Capturing Travelers with an Emotional Magic Mix
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
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Capturing Travelers with an Emotional Magic Mix

In a campaign three years ago, Puerto Rico marketed its “Magic Mix” of culture, history, art, adventure and cuisine. Due to the campaign's success, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company wanted to take their brand one step further.

Paul Holmes

 

Puerto Rico has long been heralded for its beautiful beaches and spectacular scenery.  But while the island is recognized as a wonderful place to relax, Puerto Rico’s wide variety of other offerings had often been overlooked.  In a campaign three years ago, Puerto Rico marketed its “Magic Mix” of culture, history, art, adventure and cuisine.  Due to the campaign's success, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) wanted to take their brand one step further.  The resulting "Emotional Magic Mix" campaign has driven both awareness and conversion, positioning the island as a multi-faceted destination as well as increasing visitor arrivals by 8% and room nights by 39%.   In addition to its tangible results, the "Emotional Magic Mix" is award-worthy in that the public relations platform was adopted by the client for use as its overall marketing campaign.  The campaign is also a trend-setter among destination marketing, anticipating what is now becoming a mainstream marketing trend -- establishing unique, emotional bonds with individual travelers by appealing to intangible attributes (i.e., glamour/invigoration/tranquility/enlightenment) first, supported by physical assets, rather than the reverse.

SITUATION ANALYSIS

By refining its brand platform, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company hoped to further increase visitor arrivals as well as solidify its burgeoning relationship with consumers.  Hill and Knowlton was challenged to improve upon the "Magic Mix" without a radical departure from this campaign, which could potentially confuse consumers and threaten the brand awareness initiated the previous year.  Puerto Rico also needed an innovative marketing plan to distinguish itself from other Caribbean destinations, which had also begun to promote themselves according to their tangible assets (i.e., history, culture, adventure, cuisine).  

OBJECTIVES

  • Build upon the previous, successful "Magic Mix" branding campaign, establishing individual relationships with the consumer
  • Generate awareness of Puerto Rico as a destination with diverse offerings, suitable for all prospective travelers
  • Leverage branding campaign to increase visitor arrivals to the island

AUDIENCE

  • Consumers, ages 21 - 54, in key U.S. markets
  • Print and broadcast consumer 
  • Travel influencers, including travel trade media and travel planners (agents and corporate decision-makers)

RESEARCH

Hill and Knowlton conducted several studies analyzing travel trends and audience response and discovered that today's marketers use emotionally charged words to evoke emotional responses.  Original research was commissioned from Plog, Research.  Additional sources included the American Marketing Association; Yankelovich Partners; and Professor Jeff Godbey, a leading professor of leisure and travel trends at Penn State University.  From this research, Hill and Knowlton discovered that emotions have become the new trigger for driving consumer decisions on vacation choices.  

PLANNING 

Using this information, Hill and Knowlton established a brand platform that creates an emotional bond with consumers.  

We developed the “Emotional Magic Mix” campaign, which attracts visitors to the island by enticing them with the emotional responses that the island’s attributes evoke.  Instead of asking vacationers what they want to DO on vacation (highlighted in the previous "Magic Mix" campaign), Hill and Knowlton's new umbrella campaign for Puerto Rico strategically poses the question, “How do you want to FEEL on vacation?” In response, Puerto Rico provides a spectrum of emotions and activities suited to any vacationer’s tastes.  The island offers enlightenment (art/ history), invigoration (nature/ adventure), tranquility (spas/ beaches) and glamour (exciting nightlife/ entertainment). The PRTC was so enthused with Hill and Knowlton's brand platform that it decided to adopt the "Emotional Magic Mix" umbrella campaign for all of its marketing efforts, not just public relations -- as it had done in the previous year.  

In creating the PRTC's overall umbrella campaign, Hill and Knowlton played a unique role in the destination marketing process.  Traditionally, advertising agencies drive the branding process for clients, while public relations agencies implement the resulting platform via their media outreach.  In this case, Hill and Knowlton was the catalyst in developing this new branding strategy, while the advertising agency incorporated our strategy into their efforts. 

STRATEGIC APPROACH

To support the PRTC's brand platform, Hill and Knowlton's strategic elements included: 

  • Implementing a core program to maintain constant awareness of "Emotional Magic Mix" messages in both trade and consumer media
  • Generating national and regional broadcast coverage in order to actively engage viewers, via island visuals and key messages
  • Activating an aggressive cyber-marketing campaign to sustain this theme
  • Influencing the influencers -- travel trade media, travel agents and other travel planners

CAMPAIGN EXECUTION

The public relations tactics developed by Hill and Knowlton to implement the umbrella campaign, as well as the previous year's "Magic Mix" public relations success, convinced the PRTC to place greater importance than ever on the capacity of public relations to fulfill their marketing objectives.   As a result, the PRTC increased our budget by 25% in order to implement our proposed initiatives. 

Public relations execution by Hill and Knowlton incorporated the following:

Core Program

We designed a customized Emotional Magic Mix press kit and media messages, with releases showcasing each of the campaign's four core emotions.      

Ongoing press releases were "emotionalized," to incorporate media messaging.  Press releases began to provide a more diverse spectrum of vacation options, from the glamorous Heineken Jazz Festival or Casals Festival to the enlightening Museo de Arte or the tranquil, secluded islands of Vieques and Culebra.

Emotionally themed press familiarization trips were coordinated.  We developed itineraries appealing to a specific emotion, to demonstrate to press participants how an enlightening/invigorating/tranquil/glamorous vacation to Puerto Rico could really feel.    We followed up with a selection of information and photos available by mood.

We contracted a private study from Plog Research, leader in the development of behavioral tools for use in surveys, and specialists in the travel field, to create an "Emotional Quotient" Profile/Questionnaire.  The survey was distributed to consumers who would then discover how they wanted to feel on vacation, and what kind of Puerto Rico vacation was right for them.

Broadcast Placements

Hill and Knowlton targeted key market regional and national television shows to create an emotional ambience for the viewer.  We developed itineraries and key messages for the hosts, as well as provided them with lists of photo angles and suggestions.  The following programs were targeted:

  • Good Day New York, as a top regional morning show in the island's top market.  
  • E!'s Search Party, appealing to the young, adventurous side of Puerto Rico
  • The Travel Channel's "Exotic Islands" program, to distinguish Puerto Rico from competing Caribbean and other island destinations
  • NBC's Today Show, special value segment, to highlight the island's diversity and value to a national audience

Cyber-Marketing

A themed media press room was added to PRTC web site.  Quick facts and articles, as well as downloadable photography were organized according to each of the four emotions.  

We began an extensive outreach to on-line publications, highlighting the "Emotional Magic Mix"

We also initiated cross-promotions with target e-zines (i.e. Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel), to promote specific emotions (i.e., invigoration)

Trade Influencers

We provided travel trade media with new messages transitioning campaign from "Magic Mix" to "Emotional Magic Mix," as well as vacation options and insights to inform travel agents and other planners.

We executed a travel agent reception at the American Society of Travel Agents' annual convention, inviting agents and industry partners to experience Puerto Rico's "Emotional Magic Mix".  Provided collateral incorporating key messages. 

CHALLENGES

Industry Competition.  As the tourism industry grows, so does competition from destinations, hotel groups, cruise lines and theme parks.  More so now than ever before, Puerto Rico needed to create a distinct brand message which resonated strongly with travelers, to cut through industry clutter.  

Regional Competition.  Due to a perceived parity among Caribbean destinations – all seen to offer sun, sand and an indigenous culture – highlighting Puerto Rico’s island attributes would not be sufficient.  The new message needed to engage visitors on a deeper level.

MEASUREMENT OF SUCESS

As a result of Hill and Knowlton's successful branding enhancement, tourism in Puerto Rico has reached an all-time high, and the tourism industry is expanding in both services and infrastructure.

  • Over 331 million print impressions (July 1999 – June 2000) 
  • Over 435 million broadcast viewers (July 1999 – June 2000), with placements on all targeted broadcast segments 
  • Tourism arrivals increased 8%, 1999/2000 over 1998
  • Bookings of room nights increased 39%, 1999/2000 over 1998 (61% increase during off/shoulder seasons)
  • Increased demand will result in 40% room inventory growth by 2002
  • New air lift on TWA and Continental scheduled to begin Fall 2000
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