Popular TV shows and films can inspire customers to travel, providing engaging hooks for promoting holidays, explains Abra Dunsby.
Films and TV shows are watched by almost everyone and they can be a great conversation starter – but have you considered using their popularity to promote and sell holidays?
“Films and TV shows are a great way to engage with a customer, knowing you can make an instant connection with them,” explains David Forder, head of marketing at the Advantage Travel Partnership.
What you should be promoting depends on your audience and what they are watching, but it can range from TV travel documentaries such as Our Planet with David Attenborough to blockbuster films such as recently released The Lion King.
The shows or films don’t have to be focused on a destination – they just need to showcase it well, as Game of Thrones does for Northern Ireland, for example.
“We’ve seen our Northern Ireland members promote Game of Thrones tours, capitalising on the popularity of the show and the desire people have to visit the real-life set,” adds Forder.
So how to piggyback off TV shows and films to promote effectively? Firstly, it’s about timing, says Forder.
“Knowing when a programme is going to air or when a film launches is important to engage customers when they feel emotionally connected to the travel experience captured on screen.”
Consider using social channels, as customers are likely to have their devices to hand while watching.
“Social media is easily accessible and, with many consumers dual-screening while sat in front of the TV, using this medium will increase your chances of engaging with customers as they are watching the programme or film,” explains Forder.
That said, a multi-channel marketing approach will be most effective. “The initial engagement may start on social, but the customer will likely need more than one engagement with your brand before enquiring,” says Forder, who recommends also using your website, email newsletters and print to improve the campaign’s success.
For example, you might have posted an offer for a trip to Majorca on Facebook after the Love Island final was aired, but did you also consider creating a themed shop window, or sending out a newsletter featuring the latest Love Island-inspired Majorca deals?
Award-winning social media travel agency Bordessa Holidays regularly makes use of popular TV shows and films to promote holidays.
“When The Real Housewives of Cheshire filmed in Dubai, I posted a deal on Facebook with pictures of the housewives along with a caption, and I ended up being a Pure Luxury jackpot winner for a fam trip to Atlantis The Palm, as five couples booked the deal,” says agency co-founder Mair Jones.
She also recently capitalised on the popularity of TV show Chernobyl. “I posted a deal on Facebook for a Chernobyl tour and got four bookings from it, and a lot of interest,” she says.
African safari specialist operator Somak Holidays works closely with agents to help them promote trips, often with hooks from TV and films. “We send agents our weekly e-letters with any relevant TV and film coverage, since we always see an upturn in those destinations. Agents can then tailor these to their database,” explains chief executive Ash Sofat.
Somak recently held an event to coincide its 50th anniversary with the release of The Lion King, inviting staff, trade partners and children from partner charity, Dreams Come True, to watch the film at a private screening in London. TV shows have also provided inspiration for Somak’s trips.
“A few years ago we created a cookery tour around India that was inspired by Rick Stein’s India, and it had a big take-up,” says Sofat.
TV and films often inspire people to visit a destination, he adds. “We get customers saying ‘we saw Serengeti last night with Ben Fogle and we’d like to do something similar, can you organise it?’ – and of course we can.”
He adds: “A lot of interest is generated from TV; video content is very powerful. Tying in promotions with TV and films raises awareness that we cover that part of the world. We wouldn’t be so successful if we didn’t do it.”
Creativity will ensure you reap the rewards of jumping on TV and film hype, says Forder. “For example, a Facebook Live interview with one of your best cruise customers about their views on last night’s Cruising with Jane McDonald (a la Gogglebox), interweaved with a testimonial about booking with you, could engage more customers who missed the show to book [a cruise].”
So next time you’re watching the box, make sure you’re thinking outside of it, too.
Global Travel Group’s marketing manager Sian Webster gives her tips for using TV shows and films in your marketing strategy
Do your research: Look into popular but relevant hashtags to broaden your reach.
Timing is key: Schedule your social media posts to feature either during or just after the TV show has aired for maximum exposure.
Add humour: Create your own funny memes and make them shareable.
Look ahead: Don’t be reactive, be proactive! Check TV listings to see what is airing and when.
Ditch the hard sell: Consumers are smart – nobody likes to be sold to in this way.
Build engagement: Use this as a brand-awareness exercise – these sorts of posts will build trust, then your supplementary offer posts can help close the deal.