This nominee had a business problem – they needed to create an engaging, clever, and successful marketing campaign going into the most challenging travel booking season of the year and during an unpredictable Delta variant. It was a tall order and should not have worked. But it did. And it broke records.
In late 2021, Arrivia’s Marketing Team faced several challenges negatively impacting bookings. With back-to-school season and holidays ramping up, a seasonal -25% decline in travel calls & bookings was expected. This year was more complex, as the Delta variant gained momentum and new travel restrictions were announced weekly. News sources released travel advisories and consumer receptivity to travel was waning, as families already secured holiday plans and attention shifted to the holiday retail frenzy. The team got to work.
To offset these expected performance dips, the Marketing Team created a multi-media marketing campaign called “The World’s Largest Cruise & Travel Sale” unifying the organization, engaging consumers, and stabilizing year-end bookings. The initial plan was simply sustaining booking trends – what they did not anticipate was the success of this marketing campaign driving a month-over-month increase of +25% website visits, +20% travel bookings, and an incremental +$436,500 in net revenue! The campaign had three unique components that influenced its success – a consumer, supplier, and partner component.
The first component, the consumer component, required the Team to create a suite of collateral to brand the sale. The campaign needed to encapsulate a sense of urgency & scarcity, capitalizing on the holiday retail environment, and encouraging consumers to ‘book now’. To bring the campaign to life, the Team concepted a multi-media effort, comprised of over 50+ unique internal & external assets.
The Team created the following assets:
• Customized sale logo, color pallet & branding guidelines
• Multi-language content in English & Spanish
• Content-rich emails with GIF & animation
• Dedicated microsite, with over 40 offer tiles
• Full-page magazine advertisements
• Website merchandising and in-path booking prompts
• Specialized talk tracks and agent tools to maximize telecalls
• Live video recordings on travel recommendations
• Internal employee engagement spirit days
• Digital paid advertising & retargeting
• Salesfloor performance countdown contests & prizes
• Social media releases & vacation giveaways
Combined, these multimedia efforts spanned 22,000,000 touchpoints, in English & Spanish, shaping a brand identity for this special sale. Employees became acutely aware of the sale and rallied behind the power of the campaign on each call. Consumers visually recognized the campaign and all key engagement metrics increased. The phones were buzzing.
The second component, the supplier component, required the Marketing Team to outreach the biggest names in the Cruise & Travel industry to secure special offers, incentives, and perks to support the sale. Offers had to outshine any retail deal in the marketplace. Perhaps most importantly, it had to feel like The World’s Largest Cruise & Travel Sale. The suppliers did not disappoint and large brands in the industry joined in – from cruise lines like Royal Caribbean®, Norwegian Cruise Line®, and Celebrity Cruises® – to resorts including Vidanta, El Cid, and Westgate Resorts – each providing an exclusive offer.
The Team secured offers, including:
• Free onboard credits & shore excursions
• Specialty dining
• BOGO travel deals & bonus gifts
• Upgrades & reduced deposits
• Complimentary parking & resort credits
• Up to 30% off 4- & 5-night hotels
• Arrivia-funded exclusives not available to the public
The third component, the partner component, required the Marketing Team to advocate the importance of this sale to its partners, to unlock additional marketing touchpoints. To do this, the Marketing Team created a Partner Toolkit including customized marketing assets, press releases, FAQs, and valuable information encouraging partners to promote the sale within their marketing channels. The Team also hosted 1:1 partner sessions, to explain the sale details, align on the best media opportunities, and modify any collateral needs. The time spent was well worth it, and over 5,000,000 external touchpoints were secured to broadcast the sale.
The importance of this sale was deeper than the Marketing Team realized. It paved the path for future “mega sales” in 2022. It also provided key data insights on what worked and didn’t – illuminating offers with the highest appeal and points of friction for future optimization. Against all odds, the sale wrapped up with +5,000 incremental sales calls, +1,680 additional bookings, and +$436,500 in net revenue. The numbers were unheard of, and on multiple occasions, the Marketing Team would get asked: “how?!”. But that’s the power of a creative and smart marketing campaign.
While thousands of companies continue working to overcome the complexities of seasonal travel trends and evolving variants, this Marketing Team also faced a ‘sink or swim’ environment going into a tough holiday season with declining booking performance. They took on the responsibility to lead their company with a fresh and clever campaign, transforming a special sale into…well…The World’s Largest Cruise & Travel Sale.