Expedia creates social campaign to promote British tourism

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Travel firm Expedia partnered with 180LA and Friend Productions on their series of tongue-in-cheek infomercials for Expedia Visit Britain, to create a unique web and mobile experience. Five quirky characters invite users to explore the highlights of London, Manchester, Wales, Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands.


Expedia: Visit Britain from UNIT9 on Vimeo.


Case study summary

• Travel firm wanted to boost visits to Britain from US, Germany and France

• Five quirky characters invite users to explore the highlights of London, Manchester, Wales, Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands.

• #OMGB hashtag has been mentioned more than 44,000 times on Twitter and used over 18,000 times on Instagram.

The challenge

The US is Britain’s most valuable inbound visitor market, with Americans spending $3.6 billion last year. Visits from the US grew 10% to 3.3 million in 2015.

To tap into this, Expedia and VisitBritain, the national tourism board of England, Scotland, and Wales, recently launched a three-year marketing partnership to inspire more American, German, and French travellers to visit the UK.

The effort is an extension of VisitBritain's #OMGB Home of Amazing Moments campaign, which launched in January of this year. The hashtag #OMGB - a play on the "oh my God" acronym - stands for "oh my Great Britain."

"We're looking to show that Britain has an incredibly rich, multi-layered offering that encompasses a multitude of authentic, accessible, inspiring, and braggable experiences," explained VisitBritain EVP Paul Gauger. "To accomplish this goal, we wanted to harness the power of social media by encouraging people to share these experiences."

Recent research conducted by VisitBritain has shown that social media is one of the key platforms used when seeking inspiration about new places to travel. A key part of the strategy for the PR team is creating and curating sharable content that is based on a full-year calendar of travel experiences, as well as promoting and leveraging the #OMGB hashtag.

For six months leading up to the official campaign launch, the PR team ran a social media teaser campaign. VisitBritain worked with social influencers, including Matthew Karsten and Kate Thomas, and began media outreach efforts.

"We started to drip feed these #OMGB worthy travel stories to travel and lifestyle media across TV, online, and print outlets," added Gauger.

The campaign officially launched on October 11, with a microsite housed on the Expedia’s website.

The microsite showcases year-round experiences available to visitors across Britain’s nations and regions. The site includes four sections: #OMGB, Discover, Trip Planner, and Calendar. It is designed to inspire and encourage travelers to start planning trips to the UK.

VisitBritain also leveraed its branded social channels, which include a Facebook page with 3.2 million likes and a Twitter handle with 350,000 followers.

The second phase of the campaign began in January 2017. A TV ad ran in the US showcasing some of Britain’s standout destinations, highlighting different regions that make up the UK, which is another key objective of the integrated campaign.

The solution

The campaign team, which is comprised of VisitBritain's in-house comms team and Expedia Media Solutions, began planning for the campaign in early 2016. Expedia Media Solutions is the advertising arm of Expedia, Inc.

VisitBritain identified Expedia as a suitable partner to help extend the reach of the #OMGB messaging over the long term. With Expedia's search tools and travel planning options, as well as the brand's strong global position and social media presence, the aim is to create an inspiring campaign that would convert into bookings via the Expedia platform.

In terms of the U.S. market, the campaign targets "Look at Me Travelers" (LAMT) which the campaign team defines as trend-setting and interested in all that is new and unique. LAMT travelers value social status and are looking for photogenic travel experiences to give them social currency. Although described as having a "millennial mindset," the segment is comprised of a large cross-section of age cohorts, the average age being 43.

A major goal of the campaign is to show that the U.K. has a great deal to offer travelers outside its major destination, London.

Each film explores the merits of its location, with a carefully-written script, performed at the same tempo by our actors.

Thomas Davis, Digital Creative Lead, said: “Each script focused on colloquialisms and slang unique to the region, so each line of dialogue was a different length. Editing and syncing five different dialogues into one smooth experience was the central challenge across both film and digital teams.”

Users can navigate between the different films using a compass – building their own itinerary along the way. Gyroscope functionality on iOS devices helps users to shift location intuitively.
Based on the time viewing each film location, the experience suggests an itinerary to the user. All that’s left is for the user to book their trip.

The results

The campaign was trending on Twitter the week of its launch and has been featured on travel trade outlets, including: TravelDaily, Skift, Travel Weekly, TravelMole, and French travel website TourMaG.

In terms of results for the social media teaser campaign the PR team carried out for the six months leading up to the official campaign launch, the #OMGB hashtag has been mentioned more than 44,000 times on Twitter and used over 18,000 times on Instagram.

The partnership will run for a period of three years and is expected to generate more than $165 million in tourism revenue for the UK by 2019.

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