Photo credit: Alessandra Tarantino/AP
Just so you know, this is not an attempt to lure readers simply by mentioning the lead characters in three of the most-read news stories of the past 12 months. (But it worked, right?)
Last week, I received an email from Hotels.com spokeswoman Lauren Wasley, who informed me that following the Pope’s resignation on Feb. 11, the accommodations-booking website found that searches by Canadians looking to stay in Rome increased 87 per cent when compared with Feb. 11, 2012.
"Makes sense," I thought. "After all, millions of his followers may want to:
a) Personally bid farewell to Benedict XVI (pictured above) before he enters his retirement years, which will probably differ somewhat from those of Gregory XII, the last pope to retire, in that there was a lot less shuffleboard being played in 1415, and Tim Hortons wasn't yet open for business.
b) Steal Raphael's The Transfiguration once that pesky Benedict is out of the way.
c) Visit Rome because...er...it's in the news."
In short, it seemed odd that the historic papal announcement would generate such travel interest. (Hotels.com wouldn't disclose sales figures, but it stands to reason that a big bump in searches should yield at least a small bump in bookings.)
It made me wonder if the setting of any big news story would boost searches for hotels in that place, even if the story isn't related to vacations, or even travel, in any way.
Turns out I was onto something.