Our favourite travel marketing campaigns of 2016

Posted By Emma Dodd on 20th April 2016

As a travel writer at a top content marketing firm, I’m always interested to see what travel brands are doing to make their name stand out in a highly competitive world. We’ve only just entered the second quarter of 2016, but already there are a few that have caught my attention.

Here are my top three:

Hipster Air – Cheapflights

I was introduced to Cheapflights’ April Fool’s Day campaign in the best possible way – it was emailed to me by a colleague. What this meant was that I side-stepped any context that might tell me the origins of this magnificent prank. And that was the beauty of Hipster Air, its link to Cheapflights was so subtle that had I not been ultra-aware that it was April 1st I could easily have been taken in.

Having pitched an April Fool’s Day article to one of my clients and had it declined, I understand that this kind of marketing can seem risky, but when it works it is really worth the pay-off. The Hipster Air campaign not only displayed a huge amount of creativity and dedication, but it showed that the brand can really laugh at itself.

The page created for Hipster Air was slick and professional, complete with tabs to sections such as Routes, Check-in and Baggage. The first one referenced some of the most happening locations all over the world – Williamsburg, New York and Sodermalm, Stockholm – the kinds of places hipsters like to travel.

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To check-in, the following passenger information was given:

“Upon arrival at the Hackney Hanger, passengers check-in via the emoji-driven Hipster Air app and collect their boarding passes by the row of typewriters located next to the Tao Lin bookstore.”

And when it comes to luggage, we’re talking Fjallraven Kanken rucksacks and retro beauty cases.

It is only when you scroll right to the bottom of the page that you see the affiliation: “Hipster Air has been brought to you in partnership with Cheapflights”. It’s so clever and I totally admire the dedication of the team who brought this campaign together and really went with it. Fantastic tongue-in-cheek content marketing – I salute you.

Happy Coosday – VisitScotland

While the beauty of the Hipster Air campaign lay in the fact that it was tied in to one specific day of the year, my second choice is much more of a slow burner. Most people in the travel industry who have any knowledge of social media will be familiar with the #TravelTuesday hashtag. Well, VisitScotland has created one of its own and it’s oh-so-clever – it’s #Coosday.

Every week on a Tuesday, my social media feed brightens up with a picture of a Highland coo, complete with greetings from VisitScotland wishing me a Happy Coosday. Well, having spent many a childhood holiday north of the border, these lovable animals instantly provide me with a sense of nostalgia, but they also make me smile.

It’s always a different picture of a coo, but they all seem to have that somewhat comic hairstyle with fringe flopped in front of their faces. It is such an inspired campaign, mainly down to its simplicity, but also the ability for people to join in and submit their own coo pics. After all, you spot these ubiquitous creatures all over Scotland and it’s almost impossible not to capture their comic expressions on your phone or camera. Who wouldn’t want to share?!

Doppelganger Tourists – VisitMexico

Have you heard of FOMO or fear of missing out? Well it’s a really powerful force on social media and one that many of us get just from looking at Facebook posts of events we couldn’t make or trips we didn’t go on. VisitMexico decided to address the elephant in the room and bring FOMO right to the centre of one of their marketing campaigns.

The tourism organisation produced a video, which started off with self-confessed workaholics admitting they hadn’t been on holiday for years. Then it introduced them to their doppelgangers… who showed them the vacations in Mexico they had taken since the subjects of the film had turned down their annual leave.

They saw themselves relaxing in crystal clear waters, climbing a pre-Columbian Mayan pyramid, swimming with turtles and riding horses across the beach. One of the participants even said: “It gives me a lump in my stomach seeing you go on vacation, not me.” At the end of the video, the workaholics are given tickets to Mexico to experience all the things they saw themselves doing on film. The message: “Take your vacation or your doppelganger will”.