Best of Travel Branded Content Marketing?


With Summer rapidly coming to end, I put the following Slideshare presentation and notes together with help from  the international members of the #BOBCM: Best of Branded Content Marketing on Linkedin Group. We hope our crowdsourcing of great examples in the travel market, along with any predictions, and reports will inspire, entertain and inform:

New slideshare version of this post has been created, with additional examples based on feedback from the BOBCM Best of Branded Content Marketing Linkedin group.

EXAMPLES:’s Times Passion Trails
India’s largest media conglomerate The Times Group in partnership with leading online travel service provider showcases some of the India’s greatest & best Experience Architects on Times Passion Trails – offering inspiration to the experience enthusiast travel segment, and the opportunity to actualise their passions via unique travel challenge experiences:

Puerto Rico Government Tourism Company: 5-star traveler reviews on TripAdvisor
JWT’s work for the Puerto Rico Government Tourism Company was praised by FCB Spain’s CEO Pablo Muñoz, who thought they did a great job transforming real 5-star traveler reviews on TripAdvisor into beautiful movies with voiceovers from Puerto Rican stars.

EUROSTAR: Stories are waiting
Stories Are Waiting‘ is a Pinterest-style gallery that aims to inspire EUROSTAR customers to explore top destinations with film and photos from the travellers, as well as top bloggers and photographers. You can read more about the origins of the campaign from EUROSTAR’s commercial director Nick Mercer in the second edition of the Best of Branded Content Marketing ebook series I curate.


Renaisance Hotels: R Navigator
One of my favourite examples though is Renaisance Hotels’ R Navigator, where local expert guides form part of their reframing of customers as guests, and their role as hosts to the rapidly growing #bleisure traveller market.


Virgin America: Virgin America Safety Video
This Virgin Produced #VXsafetydance pop promo inspired safety video was nominated for the Webby Branded Content category this year has been seen over 9 million times on YouTube – providing a more entertaining way of grabbing people’s attention before take off when they’re not normally engaging with the important safety information.

Interrail: Global Pass
Trine’s Danish compatriot, the serial award jurist and head of the BCMA’s Scandinavian Chapter, Jan Godsk highlighted Interrail Global Pass. This ‘mobil marketing‘ as service example helps the ‘flashpacker’ generation be always on, any time, any place – keeping in touch with friends and family even when they get arrested by police.

Widerøe: A summer without rain
Jan also shone a light on the ‘a summer without rain‘ campaign by his Norwegian neighbours Widerøe. The campaign by McCann Erickson Norway helped Widerøe promote their unique summer offer of a ticket that lets you fly as much as you want across Norway, which probably has the worst, unstable and rainy summer weather in the world.

Tourism Ireland: Escape The Madness/The Gathering
Tourism Ireland’s Central Marketing Director Mark Henry thought that we might enjoy a couple of examples they’ve produced, explaining the Irish like things with a bit of humour. This included their Escape The Madness campaign in the run up to the 2012 Olympics (despite not being able to mention that word, of course!), and their promotion of The Gathering Ireland 2013.

Spies travel agency: Do It For Denmark
This racy viral for Danish travel agency Spies Rejser was favourited by EDC Poul Erik Bech’s Marketingchef Trine Møgelvang, and calls for Danes to have more sex while they’re on holiday to help save the country. It also included an integrated promotion if they then managed to conceive while on holiday. ‘Do It For Denmark’’ got international press coverage and clocked up over 7 million views on YouTube.

#1 – Renaissance of the branded travel guide and other sponsored book content
Expect to see a renaissance of the branded travel guide like R Navigator mentioned above, the long history of the format in the sector (e.g. Michelin and Cook’s Tours guides), and recent research showing that 6 out of 10 people still use a guide book on holiday. Whether brands will start to see Amazon as a customer engagement channel like Twitter and Facebook remains to be seen, but, who knows, maybe next year some travel brand will even sponsor some free summer reads for you to enjoy, perhaps crowdsourced from a travel writing competition along the lines of the BAILEYS Womens Prize for Fiction.

#2 – Crowdsourced creative challenges versus curated user-generated content
Expect to see more travel brands crowdsourcing content through creative challenge platforms like MOFILM and eYeka, e.g. travel versions of the Bombay Sapphire® Imagination Series film competition. But Th@t Lot’s Managing Director Barney Worfolk Smith highlights the challenges of ensuring brand continuity with crowdsourcing branded video content in his How to brief for killer branded video content post. Another, perhaps more additive option, is to curate user-generated content, e.g. the ‘5-star traveler reviews on TripAdvisor‘ and ‘Stories Are Waiting‘ examples mentioned above, or Tourism Australia uber-successful Facebook page that according to the Content Marketing Institute receives over 900,000 photos daily and tens of thousands of ‘likes’ on each post.

#3 – More continuous content production, and brand alliances with media owners
As mentioned in my recent a glimpse into the future of branded content marketingarticle for Contagious Mag, some industry experts like Forrester’s Ryan Skinner predict more agency-facilitated brand alliances, e.g. Unilever’s £1 million sponsorship of The Guardian’s sustainable Business section and their recently formed branded content division, or the HSBC partnership with Exame, the leading business magazine in Brazil. For other’s it will be the production of continuous content rather than ad-type campaigns based simply on ideas with legs, and by those that understand editorial and programming, such as publishers and broadcasters. See Steve Akerman from Somethin’ Else’s predictions from the Best of Branded Content Marketing book launch:

#4 – Get back to where we started with radio?
Along with the renaissance of travel guide books prediction mentioned above, some like Folded Wing’s Karen Pearson expect ‘radio’ to make a come back as a branded content marketing platform. As she points out in the recent report I put together on the future of branded content marketing, 9 out of 10 people still listen, engage and interact with it, and are doing so across an ever-growing selection of digital platforms. Others like Somethin’ Else’s Steve Akerman think that the branded innovation is this space is more likely to occur as a result of the ever-growing selection of digital audio platforms rather than radio per se.

#5 – Rise of earned media planning and responsive campaign management
We’re also likely to see a lot more travel-based examples of what MRY’s CMO David Berkowitz calls earned media planning, where brands pre-plan ‘spontaneous’ customer engagement through social media, i.e. along the calendar of the travel customer decision journey: dreaming > researching > booking > experiencing > sharing.

There’s also the growing trend of responsive campaign managementand Brandwatch recently featured an example in their 2014 Travel Report from Expedia’s creative agency Grip Limited. They helped Expedia Canada respond to negative sentiment rippling throughout social media as a result of the over aired ‘Winter Escape – Fear‘ ad featuring a ‘particularly abrasive violin’. After a joking apology was sent out to dissenters from Expedia Canada’s Twitter and Facebook accounts (together with a new ad where the violin gets thrown out the window), they ended up going round to one of the dissenters homes and gave him the opportunity to personally destroy the violin. That’s one way of showing that you’re listening to customers!

#6 – More longer form branded content and entertainment?
Perhaps we’ll also get see some longer format examples like the recent British Airways [BA] India ‘Go further to get closer’ film that Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland mentioned in my recent interview with him. As Rory pointed out, the idea was one that couldn’t be communicated with a 30 second spiel, and it was doubly effective for him because he watched it on a BA flight immediately before the film ‘The Lunchbox’.

There’s no shortage of rounds ups, reports and advice being dished out about travel branded content marketing by industry analysts and experts over the last year, including:

But in conclusion travel brands may want to also look at comparators rather than just their traditional competitors. As TUI Travel Plc’s Group CIO Mittu Sridhara pointed out earlier this year, they continue to scan the market to look at what competitors are doing, and by this he means anyone who is out there potentially servicing customers in a better way:

Your best experience is your best experience and it doesn’t matter whether that’s in travel or if it happened in a shop, or it happened on a web site.