Do you feel it? Like a toddler taking his or her first tentative steps, slowly but surely, traveler confidence is returning – and it’s ramping up as more and more people receive their COVID vaccinations. IATA’s latest traveler poll backs this notion, even noting that 68 percent of those surveyed say their quality of life has suffered from the lack of travel. They’re rearing to get back out there and make up for lost time.
So for DMOs (destination marking organization), tourism agencies, travel brands, and even hotels, after a year of pivoting, reimagining, and relaunching your campaigns, it’s time to start thinking about your content plans and messaging – yet again. Which is why we’ve compiled this list of the latest and greatest travel marketing campaigns that our destination marketers have recently taken note of, plus some key takeaways from each to inform and inspire your own upcoming strategies.
While this annual campaign was actually first spearheaded back in 2011, it’s reinterpreted each year in a new and colorful way. Created by the travel authority for the Saskatchewan Canadian Province in collaboration with the region’s Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Agriculture, and Ministry of Parks, Culture, and Sport, the campaign awards one lucky content creator the title of “The Saskatchewander,” in which he or she is tasked with exploring the beautiful prairie province over the course of one full year. While the “job” includes a small salary and all expenses covered, in exchange, each Saskachewander is required to blog about their experience, promote the destination, and capture a wide variety of content (which actually fulfills certain content needs for all four of the partnering organizations). The campaign’s hub lives on a separate micro-site, with that year’s featured Saskachewander’s content living on the main homepage, followed by separate pages that catalog all previous content from previous ambassadors. The content is also pushed out by The Saskatchewander’s social accounts, which currently boast a collective amount of 130,000 followers across its primary channels of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Key Takeaway: Working with a tight budget? The beauty of an ambassador campaign like this is it allows you to harness the power of high-quality user-generated content to help tell the story of your destination or hotel. The fact that it’s supported by multiple organizations makes it all the more achievable to do, as well.
Launched in January of 2021 by Portugal’s tourism board, the series of 1-minute-30-second videos targets the country’s core visitor markets of the UK, France, Spain, Germany, and Spain to promote not just a return to the destination through breathtaking scenery, culture, and experiences in stunning videography, but responsible, sustainable tourism. Each video is narrated by the voice of a child, speaking in that country’s native tongue, while talking about Portugal’s natural wealth. The voice says it “comes from the future” and wants nature to be cared for, so that we can all continue to travel and discover new destinations.
- Key Takeaway: The series serves as a rallying cry for unity, which is something particularly powerful right now, given how much the pandemic, among other things, has drastically separated the world. Rising together, working together, and coming together (safely, of course) is a powerful campaign theme that is ripe for destinations to play up.
Since 2013, Visit California has centered its inspirational travel messaging to California as a place where everyone can “Dream Big.” To reignite lust for travel and get people thinking about coming to the Golden State, this latest campaign poses a series of questions that center around “What If?” For example: What if money was no object and you could splurge your way across the state? Or what if you could travel back in time to explore California’s fascinating history? What if you could experience total isolation or nonstop adventure? Informative travel-related content aimed at answering these questions live within each pillar on the campaign’s dedicated “What If” page.
- Key Takeaway: People are eagerly daydreaming about the next getaway, so the more you can feed into their aspirations and promote the power of possibility through your destination, the more likely you are to hook them.
Launched sometime in late 2020 by the marketing company that is owned by the City of Helsinki, this mini-documentary series is aimed at those considering making a permanent move to Finland’s capital by celebrating what life really is like here. Their unique approach to doing so? Enlisting a selection of five hand-picked creators – all transplants to the city actually – to explore the concept of what Helsinki freedom means to them. The episodes each tackle specific pillars about what makes the city unique, like the freedom to have access to nature, the freedom to have a high-quality education, and the freedom to love whoever you want. The result is a powerful and comprehensive form of storytelling that is 10 times more effective than a basic list of reasons about why you should live here.
- Key Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to leverage your local ambassadors in your marketing. They are the ones who know your destination intimately and have the best stories to share that will motivate and inspire your audiences.