Great marketing creative is always popular on the Econsultancy blog. Now, we want to pick some pearls from across a sector. This week, we’ve chosen travel – enjoy!

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1. Inspired by Iceland

Promote Iceland’s website, Inspired by Iceland, and its accompanying campaigns since 2010 (the year of  eruption) have been a joy to interact with.

At the time of writing, visitors to the website can explore the a-ö of journeys, tastes and living in Iceland, with rich features on the Northern Lights, ice climbing or birch syrup (for example).

Post the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull, Inspired by Iceland has come up with many great campaigns.

The greatest was perhaps the first, with ‘Iceland Hour’ seeing the country’s shops, schools and administration shut down for an address from the President, who called for stories of positivity to be submitted through the Inspired by Iceland website.

This led to a reported 22 million testimonials after 10 weeks and transformed the narrative (and the search engine results) from national crisis to upbeat energy.

2. Visit Britain’s GREAT campaign

The original GREAT campaign has to be included here for bold creative and stunning results.

The four-year, £100m campaign began in 2011 and focused on culture, heritage, sport, music, countryside, food and shopping, as well as tying in with the Bond movie, Skyfall.

A pre- and post-2012 Olympics push was also key to the ongoing campaign. The video below shows some of the many highlights.

Topline results as follows:

  • At least £2.5bn in additional visitor spend.
  • £8.9bn in advertising equivalent value.
  • £52.5m in partner funding (cash and in kind).

VisitBritain continues to build on its Olympian success, and in 2018 it launched its ‘I Travel For…’ campaign to “shine the spotlight on unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations in Britain, alongside its globally renowned and iconic landmarks and attractions.”

With Brexit looming, VisitBritain’s marketing acumen will be sorely tested.

3. Airbnb’s political statement

‘Let’s keep travelling forward’ – after Donald Trump imposed a travel ban on citizen of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen in 2018, Airbnb took a stand.

The brand highlighted its own beliefs and values, releasing the following short video in response to the US Supreme court upholding the ban in June 2018.

Airbnb has always marketed its service as a way of experiencing other cultures and meeting other people, so this message reinforced its own progressive brand image, whilst doing the right thing.

4. HostelWorld’s Alan Partridge tribute

Next I’m choosing an Anglocentric campaign from 2015.

For anyone who has never watched Alan Partridge, there was a particularly famous scene where Steve Coogan’s character was pitching ideas for new TV shows.

Of all the ideas (Monkey Tennis, Cooking in Prison etc.), Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank was one of the most absurd.

For years, Chris Eubank didn’t really understand why the public kept asking him about this. The boxer often sounded bemused on Twitter.

But then, 18 years later, HostelWorld decided to create this show as a marketing exercise.

Fans of Partridge were delighted and the campaign generated lots of PR and, presumably, links.

5. The Swedish Number

An iconic marketing campaign from 2016.

The ‘Swedish Number’ was a national phone number that anyone could call up and talk to a random Swede who had agreed to man the phones (with no training) and talk about anything that came up.

The simplicity and absurdity of the campaign ensure lots of international media coverage, reportedly worth the equivalent of $147 million.


6. Virgin America’s playful website

Okay, again this isn’t really a campaign, but Virgin America’s website was so universally well-received when it launched in 2014 that it felt like a campaign.

We wrote a long blog post about how much fun it is to use. Go check it out. There are still UX features here that feel completely fresh and innovative.

virgin america website

7. The Airbnb Guidebooks

Airbnb launched guidebooks on its website and app in 2016, as part of its ‘Live there’ campaign.

This was the start of Airbnb growing the value and authenticity of its network by adding an element of user-generated content, competing with longer-established websites such as TripAdvisor.

What’s great about them is that every host can create one, meaning there are thousands of personal tour guides across Airbnb’s network, and anyone who has signed up can access each of these guides.

So, guests can easily view a host’s local highlights, with a very handy map and some summary cards.

kiki's guidebook

Airbnb has also produced some city guidebooks, which are aggregated highlights from hosts’ personal guides.

We found these to be a more interesting mix than the standard TimeOut or TripAdvisor top ten listings. However, we were amused to see how certain boroughs are over-represented.

Take London for example. A lot of Airbnb hosts reside in East London (where a lot of young creatives live).

That means that Hackney is fairly prominent in the London recommendations.

Six of the 10 things to do are in Hackney, including two of the top four (Columbia Road Flower Market and Broadway Market).

This is a minor gripe. The bottom line is these guidebooks are authentic, easy-to-use, and a wonderful way to increase customer satisfaction and engagement.

city guidebook from airbnb

8. ‘The Best Job in the World’

Maybe the best bit of ‘SEO PR’ as it used to be called (link building) ever created.

In 2009, Tourism Queensland offered ‘The Best Job in the World’ – the chance to become caretake of Hamilton Island in Queensland.

There were 34,000 applicants and the whole thing got lots of press coverage and social media engagement (even in 2009).

Here’s a lovely news report from the time:

9. This Southwest Airlines flight attendant

Okay, this isn’t a campaign, but this humorous but zero budget video from 2014 does have 25 million views at time of writing and must have done a fair bit for the perception of enthusiastic and unique service from Southwest.

The airline regularly ranks highly (as far as airlines go) in brand reputation rankings and sees a high level of customer loyalty.

10. HomeAway’s anti-Airbnb TV spot

Airbnb is the elephant in the room when it comes to marketing most hoteliers and competing services.

It certainly is (intentionally so) for HomeAway in the 2016 TV spot below. HomeAway is similar to Airbnb, except guests always rent entire homes (without a host in sight).

The company wanted to make a virtue of this difference, and it does so in a humorous way (far from the piety of the Airbnb message of joining communities).

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