What makes a great travel marketing campaign and how is that ‘greatness’ measured? Brand exposure? Definitely. Increase in bookings? Without a doubt. You don’t get there though without some degree of innovation – a fresh idea and powerful narrative that inspires and makes your brand stand apart. The five we’ve handpicked below demonstrate these elements in spades.

‘The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made’ - AirNZ

Any business that has the cahunas to label its campaign ‘The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made’ had better bring something pretty special to the table. And, boy, did Air New Zealand (aka ‘official airline of Middle-earth’) do just that. Having already built a reputation for some previous spectacular campaigns, this gem from 2014 is not so much an inflight safety demo but a mini cinematic masterpiece.

Unveiled ahead of that year’s release of the final film in The Hobbit Trilogy, the four-and-a-half-minute visual feast takes you on an adventure through Middle-earth and stars members of the cast from all three films, including Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Dean O’Gorman (Fili the Dwarf) and Sylvester McCoy (Radagast) as well as a cameo from The Hobbit Trilogy director himself, Sir Peter Jackson.

Unsurprisingly, the video went viral and has now racked up over 24 million views on YouTube – almost five times the population of New Zealand itself!

Let's Keep Travelling Forward - Airbnb

It’s a bold move for any brand to mix advertising and politics (especially highly topical and divisive politics) but that’s exactly what Airbnb did in 2018.

The brand rolled out the video in response to then-President Donald Trump’s restrictions on citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen travelling to the USA, a ban which was upheld by the US Supreme Court.

There was nothing subtle about the ad. Airbnb’s message of ‘to limit travel is to turn back progress, let’s keep travelling forward’ was a powerful statement which the brand backed up by declaring they would match donations to International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) up to $150,000 in total.

Sceptics might argue that Airbnb were quick to capitalise on such a serious event in order to promote their brand, but you could also flip that by suggesting the ad helps to reinforce the company’s progressive image, showcasing them as a force for good.

Live Hologram Bar – KLM

In terms of innovative marketing campaigns, you can’t fail to be impressed by KLM’s ‘Live Hologram Bar’. Launched in 2019, these bars harness the power of cutting-edge 3-D facial scanning and holographic technology to connect travellers around the world (or Amsterdam, Oslo and Rio de Janeiro to be precise), enabling them to ‘meet face to face’ and swap cultural insights ahead of take-off. Similar to the Air France campaign, this wasn’t so much about promoting the airline per se, but more about destination marketing, i.e. showcasing the great cities KLM flies to.

While the concept is to be applauded, you do have to wonder whether you’ll always find some knowledgeable, polite smiley person on the other side of the bar…knowing my luck, it’d probably be a drunk stag do from Croydon.

France is in the Air – Air France

The word ‘gamechanger’ is bandied around perhaps a little too freely these days, but this ad from airline Air France can certainly lay claim to being revolutionary, not least because it doesn’t actually feature an Air France plane. There are no archetypal shots of relaxed passengers staring dreamily out of the window. Nor do we see suave members of the cabin crew sweeping along the aisle serving scotch on the rocks. What we do see, however, in a symphony of red, white and blue (but mainly white), is a glorious representation of all things gallic - a celebration of what makes France so unmistakenly, well, French.

There are nods to fashion, gastronomy, romance, ballet, modern art, even the Tour de France – all set to a spine-tingling soundtrack (a remix of LA pop-synth group Glass Candy's 'Warm Winter.'). There’s also a definite air of Jean Paul Gaultier about the whole thing (without the intimidatingly beautiful, nautically-clad models). This is fresh, sophisticated and suggests that when you step aboard an Air France plane, you feel like you’re already in France itself

The Hardest Karaoke Song in the World - Inspired by Iceland

You have to feel sorry for Iceland. The 2010 eruption of volcano Eyjafjallajökul grounded flights across Europe, leaving travellers stranded and Iceland with a reputation as an ‘unsafe’ country. Any marketing campaign to entice back visitors would have to be spectacular – step forward Inspired by Iceland and their Hardest Karaoke Song in the World ad. A joint effort by the Icelandic government and over 80 other tourism-related companies, this tongue-in-cheek video from 2017 is just one of many highly entertaining ads brought to us by Inspired by Iceland, but this is the one that has garnered a staggering 15 million views to date. It’s easy to see why – incorporating humour, breath-taking scenery and a catchy-as-hell song, you can’t help but want to hop on the next plane and join in all the fun. The only downside is you’ll have that damn tune stuck in your head for weeks.

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Anna Heathcote

Content Manager

Based way up on the Northumbrian coast, Anna uses her creative copywriting expertise and SEO experience to ensure clients have fresh, relevant and optimised content on their ...