Campaign A Fair Tax on Flying
PR team In-house
Timescale March 2011
Since being introduced in 1994, air passenger duty in the UK has become the highest in Europe. The Government had announced its intention to increase this by £1.4bn by 2015, with the next hike planned for the March 2011 Budget. ABTA members wanted their trade association to help them raise the issue outside of the industry.
- To prevent the Government's proposed increase to UK APD, scheduled for the March 2011 Budget
- To raise public awareness of taxes on holidaymakers and business travellers
- To show ABTA's effectiveness as the voice of the UK travel and tourism industry.
STRATEGY AND PLAN
ABTA decided to position APD as an industry-wide issue. It needed to appear sensitive to climate issues and convey that the travel industry was willing to 'pay its way' in terms of tax, but also to get the message across that the current level of tax was both unjust and damaging to the UK economy.
Wanting to demonstrate the lack of transparency around the stealth tax, ABTA resolved to show customers how much of their fare was actually going to the Government. An alliance was created of more than 30 major airlines, airports, tour operators, destinations and trade associations.
To highlight the public's lack of awareness of the issue, ABTA filmed vox pops of travellers flying out of London Gatwick Airport. They were asked how much of their flight cost they thought was going on tax, before the actual amounts were revealed to them and their reactions captured on film. Photographs were taken of the shocked passengers holding signs displaying the level of their APD charge.
ABTA also wrote an open letter to the Chancellor, which was published as a full-page ad in The Daily Telegraph. With social media an integral part of ABTA's comms for the first time, people were encouraged to support the campaign by 'liking' and commenting on the Fair Tax on Flying Facebook page, where the Gatwick Airport video and photographs were posted.
Twitter was also used to disseminate det-ails of the campaign and drum up support.
MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION
The campaign generated 69 pieces of print and online coverage including a full-page article in The Sun, a Daily Telegraph comment piece from ABTA's chief executive, and articles in the Daily Express, the Financial Times, The Independent, the Daily Mail and Metro. The campaign was covered widely in the travel press. The Facebook page was viewed 1,600 times, generating 1,250 'likes' from supporters worldwide, and the #fairtaxonflying hashtag generated 411 related tweets during the three weeks after the launch.
In the March Budget, the Government announced that it was postponing its proposed increase to APD until April 2012.
SECOND OPINION - DEBBIE HINDLE, MD, FOUR BGB
The travel industry desperately needed this campaign and it was a welcome breath of fresh air.
APD has been one issue that has united the very competitive travel industry, but the message was getting confused as different organisations briefed and lobbied for different solutions.
ABTA's PR campaign ignored the industry infighting about solutions for APD and cut through with one uniting, clear message.
What really worked well was making this a consumer issue - showing the public confused and outraged about the amount they were paying in tax and setting the tax in context by showing how much less people pay in air tax in the rest of Europe.
It was good to see ABTA using Facebook for the first time, together with Twitter, and giving a voice to smaller companies and individuals.
But it was surprising that social media had not been used earlier, and more extensively. ABTA will need more time to build up its influence.
A very good campaign but one that should have happened earlier and been given more resource.