Holmes Report 06 May 2011 // 11:00PM GMT
LuxuryLink.com is the world’s leading online luxury travel site that offers hotel packages to the world’s most exquisite 4 and 5-star resorts and destinations, at a significant savings. In December of 2009, Luxury Link, LLC partnered with BLAZE, a leading travel/hospitality agency, to enlist their industry expertise and social media experience to further drive LuxuryLink.com brand recognition and launch their sister site FamilyGetaway.com in the first quarter of 2010. BLAZE implemented a strategic campaign to reach customers, drive sales and enlist new brand evangelists through various off and online mediums.
Although LuxuryLink.com had a proven track record of success, the company had little presence in the social and traditional media spaces. They weren’t fully highlighting the fun and interactive elements of their site and needed a splashy, but cost effective, consumer campaign to raise brand awareness. The following objectives were defined:
• Further distinguish LuxuryLink.com as the leading brand of online luxury travel provider and launch FamilyGetaway.com as the leading online travel agent focusing exclusively on family travel.
• Build interest from and credibility with influential media (hospitality, consumer, business), off and online.
• Increase awareness of benefits of booking vacations at the world’s most coveted resorts and destinations through LuxuryLink.com and FamilyGetaway.com.
• Increase monthly LuxuryLink.com website traffic by ten percent by December 2010.
• Launch FamilyGetaway.com and generate website traffic to 85,000 visitors per month by December of 2010.
• Secure 10 placements in major travel, lifestyle and trade publications by December 2010.
• Distinguish the sites through the $1 Mystery Auctions Hotel promotions.
In preparation for the launch of FamilyGetaway.com, BLAZE crafted and developed fourteen survey questions to be disseminated to LuxuryLink.com’s internal network of newsletter subscribers (approx. 200,000). The questionnaire assessed various components including demographic background, family size, family travel plans, dream vacation destinations, and the importance of various amenities when traveling with families. As an incentive to complete the survey, LuxuryLink.com offered respondents a chance to win a $500 discount on their next LuxuryLink.com vacation purchase if they provided their email address at the end of the survey. BLAZE took the findings from the 6,226 respondents and used the results to help craft the FamilyGetaway.com messaging.
Before implementing the news bureau, BLAZE built a pipeline of story angles and drafted social media editorial calendars which would result in ongoing and consistent coverage through all targeted channels. The campaign strategy utilized the launch of FamilyGetaway.com as the means to garner positive media coverage and establish immediate credibility of the new site through the connection to, and inclusion of, its well-known parent LuxuryLink.com. BLAZE focused on strategic national and major market media outreach, integrated with a vigorous social media program via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube, punctuated by key partnerships and promotions.
MESSAGE AND IMPLEMENTAION:
After establishing a proven track record of credibility and success, in March 2010 LuxuryLink.com launched FamilyGetaway.com as the destination website for families seeking the best places to stay at exceptional values. FamilyGetaway.com’s commitment is to facilitate lifelong travel memories for family travelers and offers a wide spectrum of family travel accommodations and experiences including: global hotel collections, boutique properties, villas, all-inclusives, historic properties and much more in the three-to-five-star range in popular family destinations such as California, Florida, Europe, Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. The only website to specialize in family travel deals at up to 65% off of retail value, FamilyGetaway.com features hotel packages with fun and enriching “extras” such as, complimentary breakfast, kids’ club activities, suite accommodations, cultural excursions, beachfront family picnics or kid-focused experiences that elevate the family vacation experience. Ranging from three to five-stars, the properties featured on the website can accommodate families no matter their size with packages sleeping anywhere from three to 28 people and is a one-stop resource for family travel.
BLAZE coordinated a New York media tour for LuxuryLink.com President and CEO with staff and freelancers from The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Budget Travel, DailyCandy.com, Hemispheres, FamilyTravelForum.com and Everyday with Rachael Ray, educating them on the LuxuryLink.com brand and the upcoming launch of FamilyGetaway.com. Following the media tour, BLAZE drafted and disseminated an announcement release for FamilyGetaway.com and followed that up with consistent pitches and news to the media for both LuxuryLink.com and FamilyGetaway.com.
In addition to print and broadcast media channels, BLAZE extensively used social and online media including Facebook, Twitter and Flicker and blogger relations to bring their message to the LuxuryLink.com audience.
Of particular note was the Mystery Auction trend pitch, which positioned Luxury Link sites as a place to find and bid on “blind” vacations starting at $1. BLAZE created a three-month promotion where one winner from each site would be randomly chosen and their trip – regardless of what they paid for it – would be given to them for $1. To increase Facebook and Twitter fans and followers, hints on the location and name of the “blind” auction vacation would only be given through these social media platforms. Additionally, an exclusive promotion was created with Dailycandy.com where readers had access to an exclusive auction.
Over the course of the ten month project, Blaze was able to secure extensive positive media coverage on behalf of Luxury Link, LLC and meet or exceeded its objectives. The sites were featured in consumer publications including; NY Times, LA Times, MSNBC.com, CNN.com, Sherman’s Travel and broadcast outlets including “The CBS Early Show.” The Mystery Auction promotion and resulting media coverage drove tens of thousands of visits to the LuxuryLink.com and FamilyGetaway.com sites in less than three months, and resulted in placements in HotelChatter.com, Travel & Leisure, Chicago Tribune, SmarterTravel.com and Technorati.com, among others. Travel industry experts, including Peter Greenberg and Rudy Maxa, also favorably reviewed the sites. The Dailycandy.com promotion resulted in more than 25 bids on the exclusive auction.
At the conclusion of the campaign, the results spoke for themselves with the brands being included in media outlets never before attained in the company’s history: average monthly traffic to LuxuryLink.com increased to 433,662 and average monthly traffic to the newly launched FamilyGetaway.com averaged at 97,166, far surpassing the goal. LuxuryLink.com was selected as one of the Best Travel Websites by Travel + Leisure validating its leadership status. The total media circulation for media results topped at 723,199,519 with the ad equivalency reaching an incredible $2,457,367.