A hotel like you’ve never seen before

“Here’s A Hotel Website Like You’ve Never Seen Before; It Offers the Homeless Experience”

I saw this headline on cbc.ca/strombo and nearly dove out of my chair toward my monitor. It was the headline, “like never before,” that grabbed my attention more than the issue itself: homelessness.

Let me explain.

A big part of my job at United Way is to shed light on the big social issues in our city. Seems straightforward right? Well, it’s not always simple. The issues right now in Calgary are complex, often interrelated and not easily understood. Pair that with misconceptions about the social sector and a rapidly changing society and you have your work cut out for you in trying to simplify topics like poverty, intergenerational trauma or high dropout rates. Because of this, along with my passion for social justice and a belief that everyone has a stake in it, I’m always trying to find new ways of explaining old problems.

The website the article focuses on aims to “makes people think and raise money at the same time.” FaktumHotels.com shows homelessness through a new lens. It takes something most of us are familiar with, booking our hotel room online, and combines it with something we are likely unfamiliar with: homelessness. Merging the two makes people insert themselves into the life of a homeless person for a moment, making you think about what it is like to live on the street. Rather than leave work thinking “What should I make for dinner tonight?” you imagine yourself as a homeless person wondering, “which bridge is better to sleep under tonight?”

See for yourself in the video below. Empathy can be powerful, but is this campaign effective in making you think and see the issue through a new lens?

— Kristen Strain is a Communications Advisor for United Way of Calgary and Area.

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