On Aug. 10, 2015, Skift’s founder and CEO, Rafat Ali, published an article on the site titled, “Travel Brands, Stop Hate-Selling to Your Customers.” In the piece, Ali describes how he coined the term “hate-selling,” which he defines as … well, he doesn’t really. But based on the examples he provides, it’s seems that hate-selling refers to when a business makes a passive-aggressive attempt at shaming customers into a sale, often an upsell:
— Rafat Ali (@rafat) August 8, 2015
This “hate-selling” term I came up with has hit a nerve, describes a lot of travel “upselling” these days. Need to write this out. — Rafat Ali (@rafat) August 9, 2015
This is a collage of “buy-now-or-else” prompt on travel booking sites, people fall for this false-sense-of-urgency. pic.twitter.com/fUo7inxSh4
— Rafat Ali (@rafat) August 9, 2015
Since that first article, a search of “hate-sell” on Skift.com shows the outlet has published 11 additional articles containing the phrase—a clip of more than one article a week.
Ali’s anti-hate-selling campaign even landed him a spot on a “Today” show segment about airlines upselling travelers (he’s at the 1:20 mark):
And at 11:05 a.m. today at the Skift Global Forum (produced by Skift, it’s the self-proclaimed “first conference focused on top strategists, technologists, and marketers in travel, the people creating the future of travel in 2015 and beyond”), there’ll be this session:
Skift, however, has been hate-selling well before its founder coined the term. And, even after the outlet began publicly campaigning against these passive-aggressive upsells, it has continued to try to shame readers into buying its products.
In July 2014—13 months before Ali and Skift publicly used “hate-sell” and launched their campaign—a pop-up ad on Skift to buy its report on travel trends wouldn’t disappear unless I either purchased the document or selected a button that said I’m not interested in trends. I didn’t know it until Ali later coined the term, but I was being subject to a hate-sell! That ad led to this Twitter exchange with Skift’s co-founder and head of content Jason Clampet:
Skift’s campaign, however, doesn’t afford travel businesses the same justification.
Here are some recent examples of Skift’s effective marketing/hate-selling (I didn’t start taking screenshots until Skift began crusading against its own practice):
In the following tweet, Ali appears to be defending Skift’s hate-sells as a spoof on the travel industry:
But that exchange occurred 15 months after Clampet told me Skift hate-sells because it works. So Ali’s apparent claim that the line is a joke holds water about as well as the Costa Concordia.
Zach take: If you’re at the Skift Global Forum this morning, attend the “Hate-Selling: A Love Story” skit. It should be hilarious to watch Ali and his colleagues simultaneously talk out of both sides of their mouths. Of course, it’s likely they do in fact love hate-selling— apparently it both sells reports and gets Ali on the “Today” show.