Commentary

Travel Over Time

Virtuoso, the network of luxury travel agencies, recently announced a new product for its members called Orchestrator. Much like a financial plan, Virtuoso Orchestrator is a proprietary consulting platform that turns clients' preliminary thoughts on dream destinations into well-organized travel plans. The process is led by certified travel advisors. As an added perk, clients receive their own Netflix-style travel account that builds anticipation. 

As the Virtuoso folks point out: What’s more exciting than looking forward to a trip? Looking forward to a lifetime of trips. 

A lot of marketing travel revolves around selling “a trip.” Of course, the thought is that if customers are happy with that trip, they will come back for more. But marketing should revolve more around travel over time — whether that planning multiple trips at once for certain customers — or getting customers to look past their current trips to places and events they might want to visit in the future.

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Here’s an example of the latter. Every 10 years, the Passion Play is performed in the tiny village of Oberammergau in Germany. The promotion for the event started in earnest earlier this year with a media lunch sponsored by the German National Tourist Office, which brought in the director of the play, as well as the actor who played Jesus in 2010 to New York (the former Jesus now does public relations for the play.) Since this is an event that takes place in a theater seating 4,500 and there are over 100 performances and the town is not that easy to get to, it only makes sense to get going early.

The promotion is a lot more detailed than that, of course, and starts earlier with marketing to the tour operators and travel agents who will actually be selling the tickets as part of packages that include hotel accommodations.

The Passion Play is unique in being a periodic event in a specific place, but there are events like the Olympics that are held in different places around the world. The 2020 Summer Olympics will be in Tokyo and the Japanese National Tourism Organization (JNTO), anticipating increased interest as the Games approach, launched a massive “Enjoy My Japan” marketing campaign recently. The message is that Japan has so much more to offer than the traditional and stereotypical like Mt. Fuji and sushi.

The country will be building lots of hotel rooms and other infrastructure for the Olympics. The goal is to fill those rooms and make all the spending worthwhile by putting Japan, especially off-the-beaten-track places, on the tourism map even more than it is. 

The JNTO also recently relaunched its meeting website (japanmeetings.org) with a new tagline (New Ideas Start Here) and a new logo. Again, the meetings industry is anticipating the Olympic-level focus on Japan, with all the attendant development to come. That includes, aside from hotels, new rail links and roads.

Marketers should think, as does Virtuoso, about travelers who are thinking ahead to their travel plans for the next few years: the typical summer vacation with the kids, the winter warm weather holiday — and then special events like Oberammergau or the Olympics. In other words: think about the customer over time rather than simply this one time. 

The bucket list has become one of the great travel clichés for a reason. Those with a passion for travel don’t just think about their next trip — they think about their next five or ten or more trips. If marketers can get in on some or all of that action, it makes that multi-trip customer that much more valuable.

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