American Express GBT celebrates 100 years by sharing historical business travel moments

The brand created a microsite featuring 100 business travel stories between 1915 and 2014 from companies around the world.

From 1920, Qantas founders George Gorham, Paul McGinness, and Hudson Fysh at the start of their journey across the Australian Outback.
From 1920, Qantas founders George Gorham, Paul McGinness, and Hudson Fysh at the start of their journey across the Australian Outback.

Company: American Express Global Business Travel
Campaign: 100th Anniversary of American Express Global Business Travel
Agency: Kwittken
Duration: July 2015 - January 2016
Budget: N/A

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) recently celebrated its 100 year milestone by developing a campaign that commemorated business travel over the last century.

American Express Global Business Travel is a full-service corporate travel company with presence in nearly 120 countries on six continents. The brand’s agency Kwittken designed a microsite featuring 100 years of travel stories from companies around the world, which reinforced GBT’s connection to the travel industry’s evolution and helped the brand gain renewed visibility.

The anniversary campaign became an industry-wide celebration, spotlighting business travel stories that helped shape the modern world, while using online strategies to help modernize the brand. 

Strategy
It was important to American Express Global Business Travel to recognize its 100 year milestone and celebrate the company’s deep relationships with customers and suppliers that, together, helped evolve and shape business travel over the last century, explained JoAnne Kruse, the brand’s chief HR officer.

"We were [also] adamant that the campaign wasn’t a self serving pat on the back, but rather an opportunity to engage with our customers, partners, and travelers and recognize the innovation across the industry and our gratitude for the role we have played," she said.

With that mandate, Kwittken recommended turning GBT’s anniversary into an industry-wide celebration by spotlighting the unsung business travel stories that resulted in "partnerships, discoveries, epiphanies, and moments of inspiration that helped shape the modern world," said Kruse.

Prior to this campaign, American Express Global Business Travel had little-to-no digital footprint other than its branded corporate website. Because of this, digital and social strategies were brought into the brand’s anniversary campaign.

In addition, the campaign team sought to position the company as one poised to lead the next era of business travel innovation.

Tactics
To help develop and research the stories that would make up the anniversary series, GBT and Kwittken partnered with historians from History Associates, a research firm which has curated exhibits for museums across the U.S.

The team identified one business travel story for each year between 1915 and 2014 from companies around the world. They then researched and developed these 100 individual stories to be featured on a custom microsite along with an iconic photo to help represent each story.

The microsite for the century of business travel stories contained many standout chronicles. One story was about the world’s second oldest airline Qantas, which was founded after an arduous 51-day, 1,350-mile trip across the Australian Outback in a Model-T nicknamed "Molly" in 1920. Another story was that of the Sabre Corporation, which was founded after two executives from American Airlines and IBM collaborated on a flight to New York in 1953.

The content series was launched in July at the Global Business Travel Association Convention, which is the largest industry event of the year, attended by hundreds of global companies. The campaign came to life at the event through a completely re-designed booth that became a digital museum dedicated to business travel.

Kwittken developed a global launch strategy that included multi-country media outreach, vertical pitches, and the creation of an infographic version of the microsite. The campaign team also executed a social media strategy based on the anniversary celebration.

Kruse noted that although the campaign successfully attracted media attention and generated awareness for the brand, what the GBT team was most proud of was how this effort enabled them to engage with the global business travel community.

"By bringing to life the evolution and growth of the business travel industry through the historic business travel moments of other companies, we generated a great deal of excitement and helped reinforce many of our relationships with existing clients while building inroads to new ones," she said.

Results
The campaign resulted in more than 30 feature articles in publications including, Inc., USA Today, Travel Weekly, and Skift.

More than 90,000 people visited the microsite, and social media posts generated more than 3 million impressions.

"The campaign launch created immediate and much needed awareness for GBT, which for the first time became visible on social media," said Kwittken EVP Gabrielle Zucker. 

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