Recently, Luxury Travel Magazine published a list of the top destinations for 2012. You’d expect Paris, Monte Carlo, and Dubai to top the list, but you’d be wrong. Instead, exotic destinations like Tasmania, Jordan and the Congo dominated. With so much competition from the likes of Vegas and other more obvious destinations, how did these spots become top-of-mind for affluent travelers?
For starters, all have organized tourist boards that partner with airlines, tour operators and travel industry organizations to raise awareness within the industry and among the traveling public. Another common point: All three market online creatively and aggressively. Let’s look at the top three destinations and their approaches to reach affluent audiences:
Tasmania: To look at photos for Tasmania, I wonder why more people don’t visit -- it’s spectacular. It’s also on the other side of the planet, and focuses most of its marketing efforts on “mainlanders.” So how are international luxury travelers learning about this desirable spot? Tourism Tasmania markets actively to affluent travelers, who are drawn to its natural features and “outdoor adventures,” as well as its fine food and wine culture. Tasmania has invested in cinema advertising, social networking and online advertising to target this desirable audience.
A recent campaign featuring stunning photos of the Tasmanian landscape launched with 23% of the media budget allocated to online, plus substantial cooperative placements. The campaign included banner ads, “takeovers” and 15-second online TV spots.
Thailand: “Amazing Thailand” has been an effective campaign for years, despite awkward slogans like “Amazing Thailand - Always Amazes You.” After suffering a series of tragic natural disasters, Thailand relies heavily on tourism revenue. In fact, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (“TAT”) hopes to attract 19.5 million international travelers at the end of 2012 – a growth of almost 20% over 2010.
How to reach those lofty goals? TAT launches several larger-than-life campaigns, like this year’s “Miracle Year” which kicked off with an extravagant gala in March. Thailand maintains a strong brand identity that melds its ancient culture, opportunities for adventure and commitment to hospitality effectively. TAT also explores marketing profitable niches including eco-tourism, golfers and even medical tourism, where travelers can leverage the strong U.S. dollar to pay for high quality procedures in Thailand, and then convalesce at a luxurious Oceanside resort.
Campaigns are promoted with TV commercials, print, out-of-home media, and digital, including the Amazing Thailand channel on YouTube and an active Facebook presence (nearly a quarter of a million fans). They’ve even launched an iThai iphone application to deliver Thai tourism info and alerts.
Ireland is another destination with a strong brand presence. The mention of the Emerald Isle evokes images of fresh faces, fisherman sweaters, rolling green hills and cozy pubs. This, smartly, is the focus of Ireland Tourism’s current “Jump Into Ireland” campaign, now playing in cinema advertising near you (and featuring a soundtrack by Snow Patrol to add cool factor).
Ireland maintains a strong online presence, allocating nearly 25% of its budget to the channel. Jump into Ireland’s media buy crossed a broad range of properties including affluent lifestyle sites, travel sites, and news sites.
Ireland also targets its expats stateside, cleverly buying geo-targeting ads in Boston, Philadelphia, and other areas with high Irish populations. Finally, attracting golfers to the Irish Open has also been a focus this year, and a series of emails are planned for 1 million GolfChannel.com subscribers.
Of course, the popularity of these three top destinations owes a lot to their crafty marketing teams. But to have such magnificent products to work with probably makes their job a lot easier, wouldn’t you think?