Travel & tourism marketing: How Virgin Air keeps brand buzz high when marketing dollars are low

September 11, 2012

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson is a master of media buzz.

Virgin Air founder Richard Branson recently shared his secrets on creating marketing buzz with a shoestring budget.

As you know, Sir Richard Branson is a serial entrepreneur, having founded or acquired 400 companies that bear the Virgin name.

He’s also helped breathe new life into the travel and tourism industry with his novel efforts at branding and promotions.

Business Day recently published a column by Branson that highlighted some of those novel marketing efforts:

  • When they launched Virgin Atlantic, Branson created free publicity for the airlines by taking part in a series of extreme challenges like a speed boat crossing of the Atlantic and several around the world balloon trips.
  • When Virgin Atlantic did buy advertising for the airlines, they made sure their ads were cheeky, topical and newsworthy. Which often got them press in addition to the media space they paid for.
  • Expanding air service to other countries helped transport the Virgin brand name to countries which did not have their record stores.
  • This created awareness and trust for the broader Virgin brand name and allowed Branson to export Virgin mobile phone service, financial services and health clubs to those countries.
  • When they launched Virgin Air in emerging countries in Latin America and Asia,  there was virtually no recognition of the Virgin brand name.
  • So Branson’s team used a three-pronged approach featuring adventure, film and social media. This strategy has attracted a younger, more media-savvy audience to the brand in those countries.
  • Virgin’s space program, Virgin Galactic has given them lots of free worldwide media coverage. And reinforced that the brand is associated with groundbreaking adventure.
  • Virgin’s film production company Virgin Produced has successfully introduced several popular movies, including Limitless and Immortals.
  •  This has helped reinforce that the Virgin brand name is associated with cutting edge ideas and the best of pop culture.
  • Above all, Virgin uses Twitter, Facebook, the company’s blogs and Google+ to build a stronger following for the Virgin brand, especially in markets where they do not have a physical presence.
  • They do this by broadcasting Virgin news, opinions, image and causes to millions of people across the world.

How are you using your brand’s strategy, products, or your destination’s leading personality to bring media attention to your travel and tourism brand? Share your ideas with our readers.

Here’s a video of Virgin Galactic’s launch of their new “spaceport.”


20 ways to make sure your travel and leisure campaign goes viral.

July 18, 2012

There are lots of reasons people decide to spread your idea.  Internet marketing guru Seth Godin recently shared 20 of them.

How can you ensure the online videos you create for your YouTube channel go viral?

As travel and leisure marketing specialists, my ad agency uses a number of successful strategies to help our ideas go viral.  But I recommend testing every strategy against the teachings of uberblogger and internet marketing guru Seth Godin.

Seth Godin believes there are twenty reasons people choose to spread your ideas.

I spread your idea…

  1. …because it makes me feel generous.
  2. …because I feel smart alerting others to what I discovered.
  3. …because I care about the outcome and want you (the creator of the idea) to succeed.
  4. …because I have no choice. Every time I use your product, I spread the idea (Hotmail, iPad, a tattoo).
  5. …because there’s a financial benefit directly to me (Amazon affiliates, mlm).
  6. …because it’s funny and laughing alone is no fun.
  7. …because I’m lonely and sharing an idea solves that problem, at least for a while.
  8. …because I’m angry and I want to enlist others in my outrage (or in shutting you down).
  9. …because both my friend and I will benefit if I share the idea (Groupon).
  10. …because you asked me to, and it’s hard to say no to you.
  11. …because I can use the idea to introduce people to one another, and making a match is both fun in the short run and community-building.
  12. …because your service works better if all my friends use it (email, Facebook).
  13. …because if everyone knew this idea, I’d be happier.
  14. …because your idea says something that I have trouble saying directly (AA, a blog post, a book).
  15. …because I care about someone and this idea will make them happier or healthier.
  16. …because it’s fun to make another teen snicker about prurient stuff we’re not supposed to see.
  17. …because the tribe needs to know about this if we’re going to avoid an external threat.
  18. …because the tribe needs to know about this if we’re going to maintain internal order.
  19. …because it’s my job.
  20. I spread your idea because I’m in awe of your art and the only way I can repay you is to share that art with others.

Savvy travel and leisure marketing experts could take any one of these ideas and build a viral marketing strategy around it.

If Seth’s ideas make sense to you, check out his book on word of mouth and viral marketing, Unleashing the Idea Virus.

Your thoughts?


Travel and tourism marketing: And the award for world’s best viral marketing campaign goes to…

September 19, 2011

The best job in the world contest garnered tens of millions in free media worldwide.

Two years later, Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the World” campaign is still the gold standard of viral marketing campaigns.

It started with a simple recruitment ad, and ended as a global phenomenon.

The “Best Job in the World” campaign was designed to raise global awareness of the islands on a budget of $1.2 million, paltry compared to most global campaigns.

The campaign launched with this recruitment ad, placed in the employment sections of major newspapers in 15 countries.

Visitors to this special website were invited to post a 1-minute video.

They were asked to explain why they should become the next caretaker of Hamilton Island on the  Great Barrier Reef.

Their reward:  a $100,000 salary.

They were also given 6 months free rent in a fabulous Island home, and the job of documenting their travels from island to island with a video cam and daily blog posts.

In addition, a Facebook page and Twitter feed were set up to monitor sentiment and engage with applicants and observers.

Campaign Results:

  • The story generated an estimated $150 million in media coverage, and was picked up by news organizations around the world, including CNN, BBC and Time.
  • Islandreefjob.com received 34,684 video applicants from 197 countries.
  • Almost 8.5 million people visited the website and tallied a total of 55 million page views.
  • The island’s Facebook page referred 378,000 visitors to the campaign website.
  • Web searches for Queensland rose 40% to 95,500 click-throughs.

But the best part is the campaign drove actual visits to the islands:

  • A total of 9,000 passengers booked trips to the Island from the actual online campaign just from the U.K. Ireland and the Nordic countries.
  • In all, visits to the islands were up 20% at a time when all of Australia saw a decline in travel. And in the first year after the contest, 50% of all trips to Australia included a visit to Queensland.
If you’d like to see more of the campaign, here’s a great video case study:

That’s my favorite viral marketing effort for a travel and tourism brand. What’s yours?

Leisure marketing: The power of positive buzz.

December 8, 2010

New research confirms that positive buzz has a powerful affect on sales of your leisure brand.

A new study of hundreds of thousands of online conversations by the Keller Fay Group confirms that many more word of mouth brand references are positive than negative.

And positive word of mouth greatly increases people’s intent to purchase your leisure brand.

The study reported four major findings:

  1. Two thirds of respondents said positive word of mouth was credible, while only one half believed negative buzz.
  2. Respondents were 15% more likely to pass along positive buzz than negative.
  3. People said they were twice as likely to look for more information on a brand if they heard positive buzz.
  4. People are four times as likely to purchase a brand if they hear positive buzz than if they hear negative buzz.

Respondents were four times as likely to purchase a product if they heard positive buzz.

The study also found that:

  • Overall, more positive buzz gets passed by word of mouth than negative.
  • Some industries are more likely to get positive mentions more than others.
  • In all, 7 of the top 10 most mentioned brand categories were composed of leisure brands.
  • Top leisure brand categories mentioned include food and dining, beauty products, beverages, media and entertainment, retail and apparel, and travel services.

Leisure brands dominated 7 of the top 10 most talked about categories.

If you’re a leisure marketing specialist, this study offers valuable support for creating Word of Mouth Marketing strategies to get people talking about your brand.

How do you get people talking about your brand?  Here are a couple of recent posts in the 5 to 9 Branding blog on the subject:

20 ways to make sure your leisure campaign goes viral.

3 out of 4 conversations about brands still happen face to face.

What kinds of techniques are you using to encourage more buzz about your brand? Have you seen more sales as a result of your efforts?

If you want to learn more about Word of Mouth Marketing, visit Gas Pedal, a terrific blog with lots of free resources on the subject.

Thanks to the folks at eMarketer, who first reported on this new study earlier this month.


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