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December 22, 2017

How to Be a Better Sustainable Travel Marketer


On December 21, 2017,  I co-presented the below with Mandala Research and Destination Better all about how hotels, attractions, destination marketing organizations, tourism industry associations and more can build stronger connections with sustainable travelers in their creative communications plans.

I tend to do a lot of talking over slides, so if you have any questions from my section please feel free to reach out. I hope you find it useful and insightful 🙂

Here’s the transcript & main takeaways from my portion:

I’ve worked in media and advertising the past decade, where creativity is a KEY enabler of business success. Creativity really helps you stand out and differentiate yourself, surprise, & delight consumers, and can lead to very positive sales results.

Im going to show you 3 examples of brands that have used creativity to drive unique, emotional, and results-driven campaigns to hopefully inspire you to think a little differently about your brand potential.

Until We All Belong, Airbnb, Australia

Here’s an example of a travel brand that was looking to connect with a cultural conscious consumer. They realized what was happening in their country, and found a need in their community to rally for an issue totally unrelated to their actual product, but very much aligned with what the essence of their brand represented, and because they chose to advocate for such a wide-reaching cultural issue with social power,  their message was received with tremendous success.

APPLICATION FOR YOU: what major issues and cultural tensions can you tap into to create relevancy for your brand and business?

This work was done by Airbnb and agency Clemenger BBDO Melbourne.

The Swedish Number, Swedish Tourist Association, Sweden 

250 years ago, in 1766, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce a constitutional law to abolish censorship. To honour this anniversary, Sweden is now the first country in the world to introduce its own phone number. Call +46 771 793 336 and get connected to a random Swede, anywhere in Sweden and talk about anything you want.

The goal for the STA was to increase both domestic and international tourism. Through research they uncovered a consumer insight that Swedes love to speak with pride about the many amazing destinations in their country to foreigners. So, what better way to leverage an asset the Swedish Tourist Association already had in their people, by enabling authentic and local connections to unfold. So here’s what happened…

Through the campaign, STA saw increased memberships in the coveted millennial demo and also generated 9+ billion media impressions.

APPLICATION FOR YOU: what insights about your local destination can you leverage to give you a sharper edge against your competitors? How can you use what you already have to your advantage? Regarding PR – The Swedish Number also used media and publications in a clever way –  by generating press in foreign papers which was in turn covered by Swedish papers.

This work was done by Visit Sweden and agency Ingo Stockholm. 

Moxy at Coachella, Marriott International 

Marriott needed to promote the opening of Moxy, a new brand in their portfolio, which was very hip and skewing on the younger side.So they looked to a pop-culture occasion whereby accommodation would be in high-demand, at one of the largest international festivals called Coachella in California. They levered their brand portfolio and assets in design to create  8 fully decked out and furnished luxury tents, also capitalizing on the glamping trend.

Then invited influencers and Marriott Rewards members to camp over in them during the festival, which enabled them to incorporate and element of CRM to appease existing customers but also leverage the power of influencers & social media to earn a significant amount of attention: earning over one billion media impressions, exposure on major media outlets, and a 63% week-on-week boost in Instagram reach. I should add – this was likely a relatively affordable execution as well.

APPLICATION FOR YOU: high-volume pop-culture events are great opportunities for activations – what local happenings in your market can you popularize, how can you marry offline activation to online content? How can you activate offline and amplify online?

This work was done by Marriott International. 


Great creative work doesn’t come out of thin air – it begins with communications planning, a distinct discipline that many (but not all) media & creative agencies employ to  service their clients. So I’m going to share with you a framework I’ve used in agencies over the years, that has enabled us to do creative and media campaigns for clients such as Carnival cruise lines, Google, Elizabeth Arden, Converse and more.

The goal of this exercise is to inspire and guide you towards the development of more creative and strategic communications planning, and help you think about how your brand should behave in media you chose to employ.

  • AMBITION: What are you trying to make happen for your product/brand? How do you see success? Airbnb case, very bold – to make humans feel like they belong in the world, Sweden – to popularize.
  • IDENTIFY THE CHANGE TASK: What is the shift you want to make in the minds of consumers and in culture? KPI’s? Marriot wanted to be cool. KPIs selfies on IG in the tent, to drive more online bookings, etc.
  • RESEARCH: Leverage data to find your consumer & business insight. Who are the people you need engage and what do they think of you today? What specific business insights can you identify? STA realized an asset in their people via consumer insight.
  • EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT: What market place forces must you address? What forces can you exploit? This is typically a blend of outcomes, where you find the synergies of the strongest insights that will help guide you to rounding out your communications plan.
    • Airbnb’s case: Brand + Culture + Media … what their brand ambition was (belong) + tied to a MAJOR cultural movement + creation of a new media channel with the ring


  • Airbnb’s Comms platform = Belong anywhere
  • Sweden’s Comms platform = Swedes know Sweden
  • Marriot’s Comms platform = Rock Coachella (and give the cool kids something to talk about)


Media Behaviors: what must media do to deliver on your idea? > Inform the curious

Moments: what contexts do you tap into to unify how/when/where you engage with your consumer?  > Create moments to remember

Aspirational adjectives: 5 word to describe the kind of experiences you want to create > Free, fun, emotional

Conventions to challenge: what rules can you “break”?  > “we don’t celebrate our heritage” – consider what happens if you flip that, just like the Swedish Tourist Association

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