Using the psychology of fear to market safe travel

Inspiring people to do better for themselves and society is not easy. We wish it was. But humans are messy and complex creatures. Unlike the computer-generated algorithms that permeate our lives, we are not made of programmable bits and bytes.

That’s why there have been so many attempts — and so many failures — to encourage people to behave well. Just take a look at recent vaccination and concealment efforts.

Some attempts use fear to inspire behaviour, but the effectiveness of this approach is questionable at best. On the other hand, positive messages have been shown to persuade people to avoid certain activities.

GeoSure chooses positivity, security, and confidence over fear and risk. This is something we’ve been imagining since the inception of GeoSure. As a data-driven startup that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning, GeoSure generates real-time security data for more than 65,000 neighborhoods around the world.

The safety results – covering eight categories including measurements for women, LGBTQ+ and nocturnal movements – can easily be marketed from a fear perspective. But from the start, we wanted to turn the model upside down.

We choose hope, not panic. We choose to empower people with accurate data that enables them and the larger community to make smarter decisions.

We market to large organizations — and federal, state, and local agencies, including tourist boards — based on the empowerment, self-affirmation, and emotional and physical well-being that our data provides. The experience is intentionally designed for the end user. This is also different.

There is strong evolutionary science behind our approach. After all, if we are well-meaning but scientifically outside the norm, we will not succeed in our mission.

GeoSure understands that humans are information-processing organisms. Humans have evolved with the ability to quickly recognize and evaluate information that determines whether they will survive or die, whether it be the sound of a woolly mammoth or the scent of killer mushrooms. We no longer live in a thriving environment or die, but our biological legacy still responds as if we do.

For these difficult reasons, not placing GeoSure in a position profoundly appropriate for our fear instincts may seem counter-intuitive. After all, there’s a reason the local news long-running mantra has been “If it bleeds, it drives.” Danger attracts attention.

But let’s go a step deeper. In treacherous situations – whether the threat in our immediate environment comes in the form of a snake or data from a digital platform – we are programmed to respond in one of three ways: fight, escape, or freeze.

But if you want to know if it’s safe to travel to a local restaurant at 9pm in a strange city, the three “Fs” won’t help you. What will help is the reassuring and reliable trust-building experience that GeoSure provides. This emotional context aligns with our evolving minds just like waving a fear flag.

In fact, we are programmed to avoid danger and seek opportunity, both of which make GeoSure possible. Opportunity is linked to the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. GeoSure can reach those who carry its message about the adventure that prompted you to take this journey. Are you making the trip to reduce the risk? Or to maximize positive experiences while feeling empowered and safe? GeoSure believes it is the last.

Furthermore, GeoSure encourages people to contribute to the safety of the community. There is a significant amount of research that shows that people derive pleasure by promoting the common good.

In short, we are replacing short-term marketing of horror with a long-term promise of luxury. Fear is toxic, and the anxiety it causes leads to psychological and physiological damage, including the release of cortisol, which causes inflammation. By contrast, the positivity associated with GeoSure will generate what is called “chronic positivity”. Aren’t employees and customers more formative, constructive, and better decision makers with a confident frame of mind than if they are restless and uncomfortable?

The arc of positivity from GeoSure extends to everyone in our network – companies that offer our platform to employees, clients in partner cities, local tour boards, and of course end users.

In some ways, this comes down to a cognitive bias known as “reveal availability”: what is familiar or readily comes to mind assumed to be common or typical. So when we are bombarded with negative information about something, we will think of that thing as something negative. If we were given positive information instead, we would think about that thing in a positive way. What would you prefer to try?

It is simple and profound.

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