VisitBritain partners up with Expedia to attract more visitors to the U.K.

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

Company: VisitBritain and Expedia
Campaign: 365 Days of #OMGB Moments with VisitBritain and Expedia
Agency mix: VisitBritain (in-house comms team), Expedia Media Solutions
Duration: October 2016 - October 2019
Budget: Multi-million dollar campaign

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 travelers to visit the U.K.

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."

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

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.

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.

"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.

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.

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.

Hiking the Black Cuillins! #Skye. . @lovegreatbritain @wilderness_scotland #omgb

A photo posted by Matthew Karsten (@expertvagabond) on

"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 U.K.

VisitBritain is also leveraging 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 will begin in January 2017. A TV ad set to run in the U.S. will showcase some of Britain’s standout destinations, highlighting different regions that make up the U.K., which is another key objective of the integrated campaign.

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 U.K.

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