Unveiling Successful Global Tourism Campaigns: Key Learnings for Travel Brands

A strong, solid marketing strategy is important for any brand – and it’s no different for the travel industry, one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. These days, the power and magnitude of the internet are undeniable, meaning the world is becoming way more visible than ever before. While this means that there are plenty more opportunities for travel brands, it also demonstrates the increasing competition in the industry. In a nutshell, when consumers are searching for constant inspo in regards to their travel habits (whether it’s where they should go on their next holiday or what the best available deals are right now) why should they turn to your brand?

Right now, in terms of travel brands, killer marketing campaigns are a non-negotiable if you want to stand out from the crowd and encourage people to head to your checkout. 

Bottom line: Are you aware of the ever-changing marketing trends and do you cater your campaigns towards them? And if not, why not?

In this blog post, we’ll aim to educate readers – particularly marketing managers in the travel industry – with insights from successful global tourism campaigns. All in a bid to help you elevate your brand and ensure that you’ve got the right resources and ideas in place to effectively execute relevant, creative, and on-brand offerings to current and prospective customers. 


The Importance of Effective Marketing in the Travel Industry

After a horridous (a mix between horrific and horrendous – there’s no better portmanteau for it) few years for the industry, it seems to finally be on its feet again. No thanks to Covid, which completely wreaked havoc on tourism industries all over the world, and plunged businesses into chaos. For example, in 2020, the UK received 11.1 billion inbound visitors and spent a total of £6.2 billion. This was a decline of 73% for the former and 78% for the latter compared to 2019, which saw the UK economy experience a £22.2 billion loss. And that was just in the travel industry.

In Spain in 2020, the arrival of tourists visiting the country dropped by a dramatic 77% compared to the previous year. It was also noted that certain parts of the Mediterranean country were hit harder than others, with Andalusia, the Community of Madrid, and Catalonia experiencing the most significant drops in tourism. The Balearic Islands archipelago (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) were one of the most affected regions –  their loss of inbound tourism compared to 2019 was over 87%.

Because of this, tourism brands needed to take a hard look at their marketing efforts to find ways to overcome such a (as much as we hate to say Boris’ fave word), “unprecedented event”. This ranged from bringing health and wellness to the forefront of their strategies to convincing customers their brand was a safe bet through things like flexible booking policies.

But now that’s all over, let’s dive deeper into the world of travel marketing and look at four of the most successful campaigns from travel brands. Hopefully, you’ll be able to incorporate some of the most creative and innovative tactics into your own travel marketing strategies…


Case Studies of Successful Tourism Campaigns


Not to blow our own trumpet (but we’re about to anyway), why not kick things off with one of our own effective marketing campaigns in the travel industry?

We’ve actually worked with iVisa for a couple of campaigns – all of which were very successful – but for the sake of timings, let’s walk you through one of our more recent campaigns with the global online visa service company.

Titled the ‘World’s Happiest Cities,’ firstly the name of the campaign gets a green tick. Especially after the last couple of years with Covid, of course, tourists were going to want to visit parts of the world renowned for their high spirits. 

As per our case study, the research ranked each destination using five different indicators of happiness (the cost of living, the amount of sunshine, weekly working hours, average life expectancy and the friendliest locals) which proved Lisbon, Portugal was the overall happiest in the world. All content was then translated and outreached to both English and Spanish-speaking media outlets. 

The campaign went viral and was organically picked up and translated into eight additional languages with links in top UK national news sites. Including Metro and the Daily Express, it was also featured on the US site, TimeOut, where it (at the time of writing) had an estimated 18.4 million visits to its site each month.


Visit Omaha

Omg, we’re obsessed with Bob the Bridge. For those unfamiliar, it’s the bridge that connects two states: Iowa and Omaha, in Nebraska. Apparently, when it was first built, locals weren’t best pleased with the architecture (for some context, it’s a 3,000-foot curved suspension bridge). Many thought it unnecessary and pointless and declared that it “leads to nowhere.”

However, some clever travel marketing strategies changed public opinion entirely, and now it’s a major attraction for both residents and visitors worldwide. Why? Because Visit Omaha decided to literally give the bridge its own voice. And name. And personality. Enter: Bob the Bridge.

They gave him his own social media accounts and started a video blog whereby he could share his dry, humorous thoughts with the world. Plus, encourage people to take pictures at the unique viewing spot – now known universally as ‘Bobbing,’ with the viral hashtag #ItHappensOnBob.  

Ultimately, this tongue-in-cheek and playful marketing hack helped Visit Iowa succeed in its mission to convince travellers to visit the hotspot. In doing so, it also gave free advertising to Omaha – not bad, ey?

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Tourism Ireland

In 2018, Tourism Ireland launched one of the most innovative, creative, and downright inventive campaigns ever. Named Fill Your Heart With Ireland, the marketing strategy saw a married couple from Sweden (who had never been to Ireland) wearing custom-made tech to track their physiological responses while travelling around the country. 

Both had heart monitors linked to their headcams, and the data from these was used to determine which bits of footage would feature in the final advertising. Basically, they took the best first-hand experiences from a real-life, travelling couple and portrayed their feelings and emotions into an advertisement in a bid to encourage others to visit the country. There’s something so wholesome about this tourism marketing campaign it makes us emosh, too.

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2017 was another year for great ideas in the tourism marketing world. Especially for Finnish airport operator, Finavia, who launched their multi-award-winning #LifeInHel campaign. The idea was to show prospective customers/travellers the best of the airport in order to boost its profile (and revenue) for people travelling between Europe and Asia.

The airline enlisted the help of Chinese influencer, Ryan Zhu to achieve the ultimate campaign. The premise was that he would live at Helsinki Airport for 30 days and whilst there, would upload content to different channels on a daily basis showing what he got up to during his stay. The end of the ad read: “Is Helsinki Airport the best airport in the world?”

Thanks to its creativity and (quite frankly) OTT approach, the campaign completely popped off, exceeding total media coverage of 2.2 billion the year it ran.

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So, what can travel brands take away from these killer campaigns?

As proven, the above efforts are clear case studies of successful global tourism campaigns. A diverse mix of social media and data-backed studies, each campaign had its own unique angle that allowed them to soar to greatness. Meaning travel brands that can incorporate these strategies into their own campaigns are onto a winner…

For example, iVisa’s campaign was based on interesting data in a bid to influence the travel habits of people (and basically get them travelling again). It relied on factual research to give it breadth – once travellers had decided which of the happiest cities they were going to visit, it was easy for iVisa to encourage them to use their services. Plus, data-driven campaigns are essential for gaining a razor-sharp understanding of a brand’s target audience.

Finavia’s offering was also genius because it combined social media and influencer marketing, something that’s on-trend right now both for localised and global campaigns. Getting an influencer on board enables brands to reach potential customers at every stage of the decision-making process, and utilising social media is advantageous for solidifying brand recognition, audience engagement, and increased web traffic. Whatever the scale of your business, both types of marketing can be incredibly beneficial in terms of elevating a campaign. 

And as for Tourism Ireland – they just thought outside the box and came up with a unique angle that hooked audiences immediately. 


Tourism marketing? Completed it babes

OK, we’ve established that the stronger your travel marketing strategies are, the more likely your brand will be able to stand out amongst the sea of other travel brands in the market. 

Whether you’re a local business looking for some inspo or you’re a global brand and have your sights set on further success, incorporating these strategies into your own campaigns can take them from an ‘Okay’ to an ‘Oh hey.’

If you have any thoughts (or questions) on what you’ve just read, we’d love to hear your feedback. Or, if you’ve tried some of these strategies in previous campaigns and they’ve worked a treat, it’d be great to hear from you, too. 

Oh, and if you’re looking for a deeper discussion on tailoring these learnings to your brand, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’re a super-friendly team of marketing experts who also share a lust for travel!

Ellie Mckenna

Content Executive

MSc Digital Marketing & Communications. All things pattern and design. Find me eating pizza in a floral print 🌸🍕
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