Carrier to launch its first 'trade-first' peaks campaign

Luxury tour operator Carrier is creating its first ‘trade-first’ peaks campaign, arming agents with a “ready-made marketing campaign to inspire and engage affluent travellers”.

Carrier will launch its ‘The Importance of Elsewhere’ campaign between Christmas and New Year, giving agents access to a range of digital resources and collateral which can be used to suit each agency’s individual business requirements and fluctuations in an ever-changing market. 

It hopes the campaign will help agents “cut through the noise” of a market likely to be flooded with sales messages and deals. 

The campaign will feature a collection of luxury holidays, initially focusing on 10 destinations with curated ‘digital stories’ created to help agents showcase the relevant themes and USPs of each place. More destinations will be added as the campaign develops, with additional content being added throughout.

Natasha Towey, Carrier’s head of marketing, said the campaign was focussed on “storytelling” and aimed to capitalise on a growing “desire to be elsewhere”. 

“We’ve all been at home for so long now, the desire to travel and to be elsewhere has never been stronger,” she insisted. “It’s all just about reminding people how the importance of travel feels – the excitement and anticipation of discovering new cultures and new environments.”

She said the focus was on targeting those seeking expert help and guidance, greater flexibility and financial security, rather than those who are price sensitive.

“We’re equipping agents with a campaign which will help them capitalise on people’s pent-up desire to be somewhere different. It will inspire and reignite the benefits travel brings and the importance of a holiday. It will also anticipate client’s concerns and the need to be flexible.

“Often the market is flooded with campaigns that are focussed on the sale and deals and we expect a lot of tour operators to be out there with sales messages so we wanted to provide agents with an engaging campaign that really differentiated them and broke through some of the noise in the marketplace.”

 

Agent-first campaign

The operator believes it can grow sales effectively through agent channels, having seen a boost in bookings from new agents this year. Up to 50% of bookings in recent months have come from agents who haven’t worked with the brand before, with Carrier attributing the growth to positive feedback and referrals from existing partners who have praised its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Towey said it was the first time the brand had created a ‘trade-first’ campaign, admitting that the operator’s usual approach would be to create marketing collateral focused on its direct client base, before making it work for the trade. 

“Our approach this time is very different,” she said. “We’re not planning any kind of new B2C acquisition for our peaks campaign which is what normally does happen in January. We normally plan on big acquisition campaigns with lots of big outspend, but we’re not doing any of that. 

“We’ve seen that as a business, we’ve generated a lot of goodwill with the trade over the last eight months. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of new agents who want to work with us, and we really believe in the human element that travel agents and travel designers offer. We believe that will be more important than ever going into next year and we believe that our recovery, if you like, is going to come first and foremost from our trade partners - that’s why we wanted to create this as a trade-first campaign.”

 

Consumer insights

She said the operator had gained great insight into the “new luxury consumer” through its membership of Walpole and was sharing its knowledge with its top agents who attend Carrier’s Supper Club gatherings.

“We believe [these consumer] are looking for different delivery of content as well as a different delivery of marketing messages,” Towey explained. “They don’t respond to traditional marketing – the sort of sale banner ads. Our campaign is around a sort of storytelling and based on a series of short stories – it gives them what they need to know in a very different way. We want our marketing to be as engaging as possible and entertaining, so it keeps the reader engaged and interested in what’s coming next – it’s all about sparking curiosity with the messaging and the content. 

“Storytelling creates a much deeper connection and it can help to build up trust.”

 

Access to marketing

While Carrier’s 2021 peaks campaign collateral is available to all agent partners, the brand will eventually move to make marketing a benefit of VIP partners.

“This year has been hard for everyone so it’s nice to be able to support all trade going in 2021,” she said. “However, we do see some agents using our collateral and we never see any bookings coming our way and that is a frustration. We’ve long intended to make our marketing a benefit of our VIP partners so we will move to do that. 

“It will be nice to be able to share this campaign in January with everybody, to give them a taste of what we can do for them and how we can support them, but throughout next year it will become a little more exclusive moving forward.”

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