Comment: Two heads are better than one

Jayne Brooke, travel marketing director at Rooster, says partnerships can offer brands and agents a fresh connection point to audiences

The tide may be slowly turning when it comes to the economic pressures facing Brits, but the impact of the cost of living still looms large over the UK travelling public. Last year, YouGov data found that over a third (37%) had reduced the number of holidays they were taking due to the economic squeeze, while 26% agreed they would rather spend their money on other priorities than holidays. Things may be easing somewhat but nearly one in ten (8%) were still shrinking their travel budgets for 2024.

Likewise, many brands find the belts on their budgets to be cinched pretty tightly at the moment. Travel marketers are still finding themselves having to do more to convince holidaymakers, but with less in the war chest to make things happen. Time to think creatively about how to maximise audience attention, while also making the budgets go further.

One approach is to look at partnership marketing – the marketing mashup. These fusions are proving popular in arenas well beyond travel – in consumer goods, its almost impossible to shop now without meeting an Absolut/ Heinz pasta sauce or KFC-themed Croc. When it comes to marketing budgets however, for travel the real value lies in combining likeminded audiences and adding value to their experiences, while also helping both brand budgets to go further.

Take our client El Gouna. The destination is always on the lookout for innovative ways to raise awareness of its offering with holidaymakers, those looking for an exotic beach experience with a premium, sophisticated edge. It is located close enough to Egypt’s long-established tourist highlights while also packing bags of Riviera appeal. But faced with the conundrum of finding compelling ways to communicate this proposition, the brand needed to find just the right audience in a receptive mindset. The answer lay seated in the hair salon chair.

Everyone knows to expect the question of where you’re heading on holiday while your stylist starts shaping your new ‘do. It’s an accepted part of the experience. So we linked El Gouna up with Headmasters, one of the UK’s biggest salon groups. This unlocked access to over 40,000 customers and an email database of 140,000 – just the right audience for a premium trip away to the sun. Deploying a balance of social video, email and instore digital screens, the campaign clocked up over 160 hours of playtime to introduce engaged customers to the El Gouna difference, in the time it took to refresh their roots.

This particular alignment delivered a lot more than unlocking salon customers’ awareness. We also factored in a competition for a 7-night stay, achieving well over 2,200 entries and expanding opt-ins for El Gouna’s own newsletter audience as a result. Across all channels, this opened up the wonders of the Egyptian resort for 40,000 people in store and over three times that through Headmasters own email database, with an open rate of a massive 64%. That’s double what MailChimp lists as average engagement rates for both the health & beauty, and travel & transportation categories.

Clearly, finding the right partners to link up with is key when it comes to laying the groundwork for an effective double-act campaign push. Knowing your audience profile and understanding in-depth their behaviours, preferences and priorities is paramount. The right partner brand will need to align to this prospect fingerprint to be able to boost the campaign in the right way.

Similarly, each partner will need to bring something unique to the table – in this case, El Gouna has the ideal offering and a competition to add to the stakes, while Headmasters boasts the captive and engaged audience and the channels to be able to showcase a new glamorous destination. Both brands get to win – Headmasters offer their customers a boast worthy and highly instagrammable unique break in the sun, away from the crowds flocking to more heavily travelled resorts, and El Gouna gets to access and inspire a new audience of precisely their ideal holidaymakers, seeking to soak up the sun in a destination with a difference.

While it may not be possible for travel brands to hook up and launch trainers with Tiffany’s or cheese-scented nail polish (yes, these both exist), brands seeking an edge, to reengage, or to inspire new crowds of travellers with their difference can gain a lot from exploring the right marketing mash-up.

Going well beyond maximising budgets and creative engagement, a true partnership with the right brand outside of travel can deliver much, much more than the sum of its parts.

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