Delivering and amplifying the marketing of Britain
In 2017/18 we shone a spotlight on the unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations across the UK in our new global campaign, “I Travel For…”.
Our marketing activity drives aspirations to explore the nations and regions of Britain and this year we built on our consumer marketing strategy to ensure that the right content is delivered to the right person, at the right time, encouraging more visitors to explore Britain.
Telling the GREAT Britain story through “I Travel For…”
In February 2018 we launched our new global campaign, "I Travel For…", which aligns the passions that motivate people to travel with experiences that can only be had in Britain, inspiring overseas visitors to book a trip right now.
These were brought to life through eight short films and storytelling highlighting unexpected experiences and less explored destinations in Britain as well as our globally renowned and iconic landmarks and attractions.
Launched in partnership with National Geographic on Facebook and Instagram, to reach “millennials” and “buzzseekers” customer segments, our videos were also used across our channels and in commercial partnerships to encourage visitors to experience a different side of our country. Not only have the films received more than 58 million viewings, the campaign has also created over 200 press articles on reasons to explore Britain.
Collaborating with global brands to share the Britain message far and wide
We work in partnership with a range of organisations across the public and private sectors to maximise government investment and provide strong returns for our partners.
Working with brands beyond tourism, our partnership with 20th Century Fox on the release of the film ‘Kingsman 2’ in the USA gave us an opportunity to promote the locations behind the film. We brought our partner Expedia into the mix and presented the slick, secretive, exciting side of Britain – engaging with more than 22,000 people and enticing them to visit our country as they never had before.
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of our partnership with the Premier League, in the US we worked with UNILAD Adventure to create video content that showcased popular football cities such as Manchester. While in China we ran a social media campaign with official Premier League broadcaster Super Sport during the countdown to Christmas and the New Year – resulting in over 800 million impressions.
The benefits of holidaying at home
Meanwhile to encourage Brits to holiday at home, VisitEngland, in partnership with the national tourist boards for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland launched our “Join The World” campaign. It targeted the ‘lost generation’ of young people from the UK to address statistics which show that 16-to-34 year olds took almost 1.4 million fewer holidays at home in 2016 compared to a decade earlier.
From moonlight kayaking in Northern Ireland and mountain biking down Elan Valley in Wales to a night-out in the vibrant Ashton Lane in Glasgow and craft-beer experiences in Yorkshire, we worked with social media influencers and visitors from overseas to highlight the amazing moments and experiences that can only be had on a holiday in the UK. To drive traffic to a bespoke online hub featuring blogs and user-generated content, we used digital and social media channels as well as digital billboards.
Harnessing the power of social media, we collaborated with influencers to engage with visitors both at home and abroad. Our award-winning 24 hours in the UK campaign, saw VisitEngland partner with the national tourist boards for London, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to encourage Brits to take a holiday at home.
Highlighting the best experiences across a 24-hour day, the campaign reached 2.8 million users and generated over 500,000 engagements with the content.
24 Hours in the UK won 'Europe’s Leading Marketing Campaign' at the World Travel Awards 2018.
Vision 2020: the leading digital tourism agency
In 2017/18 we worked towards our ambition to be the leading digital tourism agency by 2020. Our digital marketing strategy is built on a ‘test and learn’ philosophy across all content that enabled us to generate valuable insights quickly to inform our decisions.
We delivered the most relevant and inspirational content using an “always-on” model, reaching the right audiences at the right time by using the right channels, and this approach has seen us share tailored content for diverse audiences, to showcase Britain’s and England’s tourism offer at home and abroad.
Our consumer website – visitbritain.com – plays a key role in our global marketing strategy and has helped global visitors plan their trips to the UK. It shared inspirational content of the breadth of things there are to do across Britain and provided practical information.
Across social media, we’ve experienced significant growth in the last 12 months on our channels:
- Facebook – VisitBritain audience grown by 100%
- Twitter – VisitBritain engagement increased by 369%
- Instagram – VisitBritain engagement increased by 252%
- Twitter – VisitEngland engagement increased by 220%
- Instagram – VisitEngland posts impressions increased by 249%
Our “always-on” marketing strategy has also allowed us to maximise opportunities to promote Britain as a holiday destination, for example:
- The Great British Summer Heatwave, which engaged with over 23,000 people
- Our “how to explore Royal Britain” guide reached over 700,000 people, created 37 million impressions and the ‘Royal Knees Up’ campaign won Platinum at the Dot.com awards
- “The Spirit of Wimbledon” ran throughout our social media platforms with high engagement results – 375,000 across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
And our efforts are showing results. Social Media agency WeLikeTravel reviewed our strategy in France and how we performed across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to place us third out of 72 tourism boards in 2018.
The power of PR
Our PR activity has helped us to reach new audiences and secure coverage to inform and inspire readers to consider a trip to Britain. Our series of global GREAT trips gave international media the opportunity to experience Britain first hand and write inspirational content to encourage visitors to explore Britain.
Our targeted approach to media generated over 2.3 billion opportunities for global customers to see inspiring content on channels they trust.
Meantime, in-market experts continued to target individual publications through a tailored programme of trips, deskside briefings, events and mailings to ensure further inspirational coverage which delivered consistent messages and integrated across our channels, telling a clear story about Britain to our customers.
In September 2018, Belfast was in the global spotlight as 40 of the world’s top travel bloggers ventured to Britain for the Social Travel Summit. Travelling from Britain’s key inbound markets, we sponsored the event and hosted bloggers on educational trips across the UK to see first-hand the tourism experiences on offer.
Our I Travel For… campaign received over 58 million video views
700,000 people were reached through our “how to explore Royal Britain” guide, with 37 million additional impressions being created through the “Royal Knees Up” campaign – winning Platinum at the Dot.com awards
Highlights of our international activity
- I Travel For.. brand campaign launched in Australia in February 2018 at an event joined by 100 VIP, trade and media representatives. Results include 1.5 million impressions, 1.25 million video views, 25,000 landing page impressions and almost 500k reached on social.
- To promote the historic first single flight between Australia and Britain by Qantas, we undertook joint advertising with the Department for International Trade and Heathrow Airport to welcome travellers. The British High Commissioner for Australia saw the flight depart while we welcomed the flight at Heathrow.
- Another successful year of partnership with Etihad Airways saw us reach 106 million people throughout our January-March 2018 campaign, resulting in 7,900 bookings.
- Our editorial campaign showed the diversity of our tourism offering – resulting in more than 150 million impressions
- Partnered with the country’s leading travel magazine, Viaje Mais, to create a UK focused edition
- Developed a hero travel package in partnership with DMC JacTravel and partner Tour Operator Abreu Brasil to encourage football lovers to visit the UK.
- We partnered with Air Canada Vacations to inspire the segment of Canadian "Explorers" to fulfil their travel passion in Britain – promoting London, Edinburgh and Glasgow as gateways
- A joint digital campaign with China’s No.1 Online Travel Agent achieved over 74 million online impressions
- Launch of I Travel For… campaign during the PM’s visit to China followed by online promotion achieved over 141 million impression in total
- Commercial partnership with British Airways China to boost conversion within the China e-commerce Carnival; with Hainan Airlines to promote its direct flight from Beijing to Manchester
- Brand partnership with SuperSports China to promote Premier League football in China
- 2nd year Partnership with DEFRA and DIT China to promote Food is GREAT featuring four food hubs of London, Scotland, Yorkshire and Devon and Cornwall
- I Travel For... phase two launch with comprehensive cooperation with big media partners, content platforms, influencers and promotion on both online and offline channels
- Upcoming 2nd year partnership with Ctrip and British Airways to kick off in late October and November.
- I Travel For... campaign across print, cinema, billboard and digital channels. Reached over 24 million contacts ,between February-March 2018
- Tactical partnership campaigns with Expedia, Easyjet and Brittany Ferries spread from November to June
- Work with top magazines GEO and Figaro Mag resulted in a 35-page cover story on Scotland for the former, and a 26-page cover story on London for the latter
- Worked with Embassy, Virgin Radio and Telerama cultural magazine on a media partnership promoting British cultural events in France, and reasons to travel to Britain for culture, music, festivals. Reached over 8 million.
- The I Travel for… digital campaign launch in market, with (22 million impressions; 2.5 million video views; 9.5 million total unique reach)
- A “Ramadan Iftar” event in UAE with 50 attendees, and in KSA with 40 attendees
- Marketing campaigns with Etihad Airways campaign, with (70 million impressions – 28 million reach); Wego (95 million impressions – 700,000 engagement); and Tajawal (15.6 million impressions – 9.5 million reach)
- Our Dnata campaign lead to 5% increase in bookings to Britain
- Launched “Sports of Kings” in the market, in an event attended by partners and media outlets, generated media coverage with (1.8 million unique views).
- We partnered with FCO in Berlin to showcase advertorial content on London, Edinburgh and Glasgow which was distributed through 60,000 copies of Siegessäule and 15,000 copies of L.MAG. This was then distributed through LGBTI website and social media channels, with 10 million impressions.
- I Travel For... launch in Mumbai in February 2018) with CEO, Sally Balcombe with the Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion Baroness Rona Fairhead, as part of the India-UK Createch Summit in Mumbai. More than 200 delegates from the travel trade industry across India attended, along with 50 UK businesses representing transport, technology, healthcare, film and music and a further 150 Indian businesses from a variety of industry sectors.
- In May 2018 we hosted a high profile networking dinner reception in Mumbai for the Rt.Hon. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in partnership with The England and Wales Cricket Board. The objective was to use ICC’s Cricket World Cup 2019 tournament to be held in England & Wales as an opportunity to bring the two countries together to celebrate the sport and passion of cricket. Attended by the top travel and trade fraternity including media, the evening had the Secretary of State interact with over 100 delegates.
- Cox and Kings India & MakeMyTrip collaborations with us (February-March 2018): Commercial partnerships with a long term strategic aim to position Britain as a `must visit now’ destination by developing and increasing the distribution, sales and advocacy of compelling and competitive UK product to existing and new audiences.
- Jet Airways-Marketing Manchester new route launch (September 2018): Support Marketing Manchester with a B2C campaign in partnership with Jet Airways for the new Mumbai-Manchester direct flight launch from Nov’18. Also partner with them in delivering a 3 city B2B roadshow showcasing Manchester as the Gateway to North England to over 300 buyers.
- To coincide with the UK-Russia year of Science and Education and the 20th Anniversary of the first Harry Potter book’s publication we worked jointly with PDP partners (British Council and FCO) and organised a media trip for “Traveller’s Notes’, a programme aired on Russia’s flagship Channel One. The trip resulted in two programmes on London museums and Oxford as a Harry Potter location. Broadcast reached 50 million viewers
- Content partnership with Land Rover and the top Russian publishing house Discovery resulted in a 60-sec video promoting the south east of England across social media channels; over 15 pages of print coverage; online coverage, 25 episodes on Radio Mayak explaining about travelling around the English countryside by car; 25 TV ads on Moya Planeta promoting the project; 8 news stories on TV channel 8 showcasing travelling in England by car. The project reached 10 million people
- Facilitated a trip for Oliver Vegas, one of the largest travel influencers in Spain, to feature and film Liverpool, Manchester, the Lake District and York. Traveler.es shared the film with their audience of 2.1 million
- We partnered with FCO in Stockholm to champion diversity and love in Europe with Love is GREAT and to showcase the UK as an open and welcoming destination. In Sweden, the Love is GREAT media campaign reached more than 200,000 LGBTI consumers online, of which more than 40,000 read our articles. Additionally, our Love is GREAT ad appeared in 33,000 copies of QX magazine.
- A B2C digital campaign was designed in partnership with Expedia to target “Buzzseekers” and “Sightseers” to drive conversion rates
- “It all starts in Manchester” was launched in partnership with Virgin Atlantic and Manchester Gateway Campaign to capture the spirit of the city and Northern England
- Partnering with DEFRA and DIT we ran a US consumer-facing campaign promoting four key food and drink hubs – London, Scotland, Yorkshire, Cornwall and Devon