Travel promotions. Are you onboard?

Uk tourism is booming. we're more active than ever. so how can brand use tourism to drive consumer engagement?

The time when marketers could throw together a promotional campaign with the lure of palm trees on a desert island and a bit of sticky backed plastic have long gone...

There’s a lot going on in the world. Take Monarch Airlines.

Monarch Airlines is the latest casualty in an already battered industry that’s borne the brunt of the effects of hurricanes, terrorist attacks and umpteen different airline failures. And that was just the summer of 2017.

It’s no surprise then, that the UK tourism market is booming. According to data analysis of searches and bookings made between October 2016 to January 2017, for the following summer (June to August 2017), there was a 23.8% rise in British holidaymakers planning to holiday in the UK. It’s no wonder that camping and caravanning companies across the land are gratefully reaping the rewards.   

Travel marketing group Sojern revealed that over half of these staycationers were planning a break of three days or less – up 8.8% from 2016. Fact is, the Great British holiday is going local and being cut short. The overseas travel bubble seems to have burst.

So, should marketers steer clear of foreign shores when devising their next big prize incentive?

Is travel promotion a good idea?

Travelodge’s annual holiday index tells us that a quarter of Britons simply refuse to cut back on their annual holiday.

It’s ultimately what we’re all still living and breathing for…

Our holidays permeate every waking moment, from the water cooler office chat that starts and ends with vacation plans for the year ahead to the love of sharing images with friends and compiling online photo albums for presents when we run out of ideas at Christmas.

We love to make memories, have fresh experiences and then log on to Instagram or Facebook to share them all with the world.  

Just imagine then, if you won one...

Just imagine if you won a travel promotion

we do like to be beside the seA

As Travelodge discovered in their research, a trek to the seaside remains a key favourite for Britons everywhere, with 53% of adults making their way to British coasts for their annual break last year.

The beach is still where it’s at, just with a few more inflatable unicorns thrown in.

Yes, there may be places we’d rather not have a first-class return ticket for – a quick scan of the Foreign Office’s watch list can help with that.

But the reality is, us Brits still love to run to the sun.

Travel market analysts GfK reported a record number of British tourists had visited Spain in 2016, rising by 12% to 17.8 million people, with that figure set to increase.

The Spanish may or may not be happy about that, but we think it’s a good reason to smile. Brits want to go places. They just might not have the coinage or the imagination to jet off some place new.

That’s where a travel promotion specialist like Sodexo can add value to your next campaign.

We do love a bit of sun, don't we? Well, that's another reason to place travel at the centre of your promotion

more mileage for brands

The ‘Savvy Cynics 2: Consumer Promotions - What Shoppers Think in 2017’ report by Sodexo reveals that consumers are now social savvy cynics, increasingly using social media to engage with brands in promotions and competitions.

In a word, brands who want to attract customers with a promotional mix of prizes can gain mega mileage from a strong social media strategy. Draw in your target audience by way of an exotic beach image and it’s an attractive proposition for us weather obsessed Brits.

Sodexo’s report says that in 2016, 26.9% of respondents said they used Facebook to enter competitions promoted by a brand either ‘very often’ or ‘sometimes’.

This year the figure had risen to over 37%, a rise of over 10%.

This shift is down to the fact that people are getting used to entering competitions on Facebook – last year 20.05% claimed that they found them ‘annoying and intrusive’, but this dropped to 16.89% this year.

What’s more, this year over 20% of people claimed to enter competitions via Twitter, up from less than 15% last year. Instagram also saw a jump, with over 14% of people claiming to use this platform to enter competitions – that growth of nearly 5%.

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The millennial dream

Any marketer worth their salt will have read their weight in millennial chasing articles.

For example, we know this target audience loves experiences over stuff, the digital native generation who are used to downloading music and books, sharing photographs in an instant and placing less emphasis on things.

We’re often reminded that soaring student debt has put paid to those ideas about ever owning bricks.

Joined the dots yet?

Yes, the millennial target audience wants to be sent somewhere exciting and new. Sodexo’s report into consumer promotions reveals an interesting show stopping fact:

Millennials would love a dream holiday or luxury trip (17.25%) above other promotional ideas.

More specifically, when asked what type of travel prize they would prefer, it’s not a cultural city break to explore the Eiffel Tower or the Dutch Masters. Oh no. That’s last year’s news where 21.41% of millennials said they’d like a European city break.

This year, they’ve upped the ante.

Millennials have their sights on an exotic all expenses paid beach holiday (21.05%).

And who could blame them? Not many in your Instagram feed are going to have that bikini shot on Hawaii’s big island (insert applicable envy-inducing location) are they?

When putting your next promotion together, wherever you decide to send them, the more luxurious the better.

easyjet leads the way

With all this in mind, it’s unsurprising to find that certain brands are already tapping into travel promotions by way of experiential led marketing.

Easyjet has been busy mastering the art of creating travel-inspired experiences to tap into the millennial mindset: focusing on people who are curious, open to new experiences and more likely to take a spontaneous trip abroad. And they’ve done a good job. 

Like the Sprinkles popup café in London, aimed at promoting Amsterdam as a great mini break destination. Or their recent Instagram competition with the hash tag #hiddenhotspots. It boosted engagement with the brand whilst enabling them to harvest some seriously sexy holiday photos for endless additional social content.

We know, we know. An airline has a responsibility to inspire us, surely?!

If they can’t do it, no one can. But as we’ve seen with Ryanair’s low popularity and British Airways’ PR problems this year, it’s not always that easy.

Think visually

Some brands may have a natural advantage when it comes to offering inspiring promotions and ideas to attract consumers to share these campaigns online.

But there’s no doubt that by creating photographic opportunities, brands can gain traction socially. You don’t have to look at Reece Witherspoon’s timeline to know that.

For ‘compers’, Instagram proved most popular among 25-34 year olds (3.33%) last year, while this year it was the 35-44 year olds who said they used the platform to tell friends and family about competitions and online promotions.

As the non-digital natives wake up and smell the Instagram appeal, it’s a platform destined to dominate the marketing landscape.

This year over 20% of people claimed to enter competitions via Twitter, up from less than 15% last year. Instagram also saw a jump, with over 14% of people claiming to use this platform to enter – that’s a growth of nearly 5%.

The key finding here is that marketers need to think visually when exploring promotional activities.

That’s where travel promotions can be your passport to creating eye-catching creative communications.

After all, what could be more engaging than a bright blue sunny sky on a dull winter morning?

instagram's where it's at

Instagram offers a brilliant way for consumers to connect with brands and drive engagement through meaningful and memorable interaction.

It’s low maintenance for the competition entrant and makes for the perfect sharing mechanism. Your promotion can go viral within nano seconds.

Most Instagram posts are often shared on Twitter and Facebook, and we’re expecting to see more and more users getting on board as it moves beyond niche and becomes increasingly mainstream.

We’re also finding that when competitions are only available to enter on Instagram, consumers are setting up Instagram accounts faster than you can say ‘let’s do a selfie’.

We know we’re right.

Sodexo’s research shows that interest in Instagram competitions is growing beyond the capital.

While it might have been Londoners who were greediest to share competitions on the platform last year (15.21%), this year Yorkshire and Humberside took the competition crown for most competitions shared on Instagram (19.81%).

The pictorial platform is literally going places.

why haven't you entered yet?


While competitions are becoming more commonplace on social media, you almost have to ask, if you haven’t run one yet, why not?

It’s kind of expected. The ‘shareability’ factor is huge for brands and can offer real value for social marketers.

By offering a big-ticket prize like a luxury holiday, you can enhance the opportunity for fresh audiences to engage with your brand, attracting new customers whilst collecting data, promoting the ‘share’ factor and boosting brand engagement generally.

Look at options to increase people engagement by rewarding customers for sharing the competition, offering them multiple entries if they enter using different social media platforms. By mobilising one entrant, you can attract even more to engage with your business.  

Yes, there are rules you need to follow, but with the right expertise, a well-planned travel promotion can be the trip of a lifetime for your business and for your competition winner. Either way, your brand certainly stands to take off.

It’s time to reach for the skies…

Reach for the skies indeed. And how can you increase that reach and increase the odds of getting it right first time?

Well, click that little graphic below and you'll unlock a whole world of consumer insights ready for you to use...

Free ebook: Savvy Cynics  They're smart, cynical, and thirsty for a bargain! Find out what today's  shoppers are thinking in our 2017-18 consumer insights report. Click to grab yours today!