Money & Business

Tour Operators Try Levity to Help Prep Public for REAL ID Shift

By / Feb 27, 2020 Comedian Harrison Greenbaum makes the case for REAL ID. (YouTube screenshot)

The U.S. Tour Operators Association is taking steps to help the public better understand the new identification rule. It even has an in-house comedian to help lighten the mood.

Come October 1, Americans will need REAL ID-compliant documentation to board a commercial domestic flight and enter federal buildings, nuclear power plants, and military bases.

The problem, according to the U.S. Travel Association, is a majority of Americans (57 percent) simply aren’t aware of that upcoming deadline.

To stave off chaos, groups are developing campaigns to educate the public about the new rule. The latest entrant is the U.S. Tour Operators Association, which is bringing a bit of humor to a difficult situation.

Recently, USTOA brought in comedian Harrison Greenbaum to explain the law, and the need for travelers to take steps to comply, in a one-minute video. In the lively spot, he even dropped his pants—all for the cause.

Greenbaum, a Last Comic Standing alum, has been something of a face for the USTOA since last year, when he started a travel series for the association. Not only did USTOA put him in front of the cameras, it also gave him complete creative control of the final result of his filmed efforts.

(Which probably explains why he wasn’t wearing pants.)

Bringing in a comedian to explain the issue should help on the levity front, especially considering the harrowing tales of REAL ID aggravation: overcrowded DMVs, long lines, and loads of confusion.

USTOA’s efforts, which also include a detailed blog post and guide informing the public of the steps needed to update their identification, aim to ensure those taking tours are aware of what’s happening.

The move follows a similar toolkit from U.S. Travel that assists those in the travel industry with their messaging efforts. Among other items, the kit includes banner ads, radio scripts, and talking points to help its members spread the word. Individual states are also promoting their own awareness campaigns.

Compounding the awareness problem, says U.S. Travel, is that states have been slow to issue cards that meet the new standards—though the federal government helped ease concerns by allowing online document uploads. Nonetheless, U.S Travel President and CEO Roger Dow warns of an “alarming lack of awareness and preparedness” creating a drastic effect.

“This is significant not only because it will inconvenience travelers and create confusion at U.S. airports—it could do significant damage to our nation’s economy,” he said last fall.

Sara Cutcliffe

Sara Cutcliffe is a longtime editor and writer who often covers health and consumer topics. More »

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