Great marketing creative is always popular on the Econsultancy blog.

Thus far, I’ve enjoyed rounding up some campaigns from big brands (e.g. Ikea and Lowe’s).

Now, I want to pick some pearls from across a sector. This week, I’ve chosen travel – enjoy!

1. The Airbnb Guidebooks

Let’s start with something new. Airbnb launched guidebooks on its website and app this week, as part of its ‘Live there’ campaign.

This fresh content shows Airbnb is keen to expand the knowledge and advice available through its network, 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.

I found these to be a more interesting mix than the standard TimeOut or TripAdvisor top ten listings. However, I was 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 the top three (Columbia Road Flower Market, Broadway Market, London Fields Lido).

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

2. HostelWorld’s Alan Partridge tribute

Next I’m choosing an Anglocentric campaign.

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.

3. This Southwest Airlines flight attendant

Okay, she’s not a campaign, but this video does have 22m 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.

4. SNCF Europe – it’s just next door

Some solid experiential marketing next.

In 2013, SNCF wanted to promote its rail services between European countries, highlighting the proximity of many destinations on the mainland.

It did this with doorways that revealed LED screens broadcasting another major European city, allowing people to envisage stepping into another country.

5. LateRooms Magic Makers

LateRooms shows how easy it is with a modest budget to bribe/delight customers enough that they make a lot of noise on social media.

The campaign was very simple. Choose some customers and surprise them with a tailored gift, either after their trip or when they reach their destination.

KLM did something similar way back in 2010, finding customers on FourSquare, doing some detective work and then delivering them a personalised gift at the airport gate.

The beauty of LateRooms’ approach in 2015 is that the blogging community is so vast, the company could bank on more than just a Facebook post or Tweet (and duly got it).

Here’s an example of love that came the brand’s way.

What makes a travel website usable on mobile?

6. 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 TV spot below. HomeAway is similar to Airbnb, except guests 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).

7. Virgin America’s playful website

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

I wrote a long blog post about how much fun it is to use. Go check it out.

virgin america website

8. Visit Britain’s GREAT campaign

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

The four-year, £100m campaign has 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).

9. Airbnb’s Hollywood Vine

Yet more Airbnb and another blast from the past. The tech/travel giant jumped aboard Vine pretty quickly, using it to engage and incentivise, creating user-generated content in the process.

A competition offered a trip to the Sundance Film Festival for lucky Viners who sent in something creative about their trip.

Airbnb then created a feature length Vine with many of the entries. The joy of Vine in 2013 was its low-fi, DIY nature, and the feature captures this well.

All in all, it was this kind of activity that set Airbnb apart as an engaged, thoughtful brand, not just a great platform.

10. Thomas Cook uses virtual reality

It’s not just Thomas Cook, but British airways, too, that have trialled virtual reality to give prospective customers a taste of a destination.

Of course, it’s not the 1930s any more, we see exotic locations and aeroplanes on the television all the time, but using VR to engage and upsell could be a powerful tool.

At the moment, of course, PR is the name of the game. Surely, the brand has reaped the reward already.

Next step is the development of 12 360-degree films showcasing various cities by Visualise, to expand the experience and offer customers a taste of a range of destinations.

thomas cook vr

10 examples of great Airbnb marketing creative