Mar 7, 2019

Can Travel Brands Leverage Brexit to Attract Overseas Tourism?

Brexit: arguably the most confusing, debate-provoking, and emotionally-driven term of the moment.

It’s been over two years since the UK, by a slim majority, decided that the country would be better off out of the European Union (EU) - and although the outcomes are still unsure, and we don’t yet know how this pivotal decision will affect our personal and professional lives - crunch time is looming, with a scheduled leave date of March 29th.

Now is the time to consider how the Brexit vote might affect the many areas of digital marketing and its various associated sectors.

One striking trend comes from the travel sector.

Strength in weakness

The Pound was weakened by the result of the Brexit vote, and this resulted in an influx of tourists from overseas in 2017 - around 39.2 million visits, to be precise.

According to VisitBritain, the UK reaped the rewards of high volumes of people travelling from China, the US, Australia, and the Gulf states, with overseas travelers bringing in a total of £24.5 billion (28.4 billion Euros).

Moreover, a flattening economy and associated friction as a result of the EU referendum, has not discouraged those in the UK from enjoying overseas trips, with visits to Spain in particular seeing an increase in British tourists in recent times.

Last year, the UK braced itself for a record number of 42 million overseas visitors with many flocking to the capital and its surrounding areas to enjoy this small yet world-renowned (or infamous, but we’ll let you be the judge of that) island - a further testament to the allure of the plunging pound.

Travel brands and Brexit-based marketing opportunities

With such an obvious influx of visitors, a clear opportunity for forward-thinking brands to leverage this effect of Brexit presents itself: creating targeted marketing campaigns to capitalize on this Brexit-driven trend.

Apparently, the ‘Great British Holiday’ does exist and if you utilize this messaging to attract particular segments of overseas travelers to your products, services or destination, you could boost your brand awareness as well as your bottom line, exponentially.

Whether you run a holiday camp or adventure trips, own a campsite or a 4-star hotel - and regardless of whether you agree with the referendum outcome - you operate in a sector that could well benefit (or at the very least, remain buoyant) in the current climate.

But, with so many people personally invested in the term ‘Brexit’, when you create a marketing campaign to attract tourists, it’s important not to offend or provoke negative, volatile reactions from consumers, both inside and outside the EU.

Promote diversity

For such a small island, Britain is a wonderful melting pot of cultures, custom, accents, dialects, and even baking shows – and this should be a USP in its own right. For travel brands looking to leverage a weakening pound and entice overseas visitors, establishing a campaign message that promotes the nation’s diversity could yield positive results. This approach, when done objectively, can be hugely inspiring, and can answer travelers' common questions. Taking the focus off Brexit and back to the ‘Great British Holiday’.

By establishing campaign messaging that promotes the nation’s diversity in an inspiring and, importantly, objective way, building value-driven content that typical consumer questions in the awareness stage of the funnel, those in the travel sector could yield positive results.

Go local

In addition to promoting the wider diversity of Britain amid (or after) fierce Brexit negotiations, honing in on the very things that make a destination unique and creating inspiring visual content based on local attractions, social customs, travel infrastructure, and so on, travel brands stand to showcase the value of visiting a particular locale to potential overseas travelers.

Moreover, by creating focused content showcasing how close certain major UK towns, villages or cities are to one another, it will be possible to capitalize further by promoting daytrips from a specific locale.

Bargain Britain

Creating targeted local content and promoting a positive campaign message will prove essential to the success of Brexit-driven marketing campaigns. But, the element that will further fortify these approaches will perhaps lie in leaning on the ‘bargain Britain’ angle.

By building a campaign based on how a tourist’s budget will stretch when they’re in a certain destination will help UK-based travel brands ride the crest of the sterling- plunging wave. Elements worth consideration are:

  • Build initiatives based on price guides and comparisons
  • Highlight best value landmarks or attractions
  • Communicate must-try packages based on customers’ personal tastes or preferences

Rather than casting a wide net, travel brands or operators looking to capitalize from the whole Brexit situation will do best to target specific traveler cohorts from particular regions or countries by conducting extensive consumer research and drilling down deep into demographic data.

While still in its infancy, VisitBritain has plans to attract droves of fresh tourists to the UK in the wake of the final Brexit outcome.

In conjunction with the government, the tourism body is set to launch a fresh four-year Event Support Programme in a bid to foster higher levels of advocacy and funding to UK cities. In turn, this initiative hopes to convince more international associations to host large-scale conventions throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The business events industry is currently worth about £19 billion to the UK economy.

Supported by a content strategy that is likely to encompass the three key elements previously discussed (promoting diversity, going local, and leaning on ‘Bargain Britain’), the program hopes to entice even more new tourists to the UK after Brexit.

A governmental buy-in to UK-based tourism campaigns like this suggests that the travel sector does stand to benefit from the whole Brexit situation - and as proceedings progress, more marketing drives from forward-thinking UK tourism brands may well follow in the near future.

To Conclude

At this point, it’s impossible to know exactly how things will pan out for the UK’s travel sector; however, it’s clear that through weakness there is opportunity.

“The exchange rate is also great for Europe and also more affordable for Brazil as well. We know that people budget for their vacations and this just means that their money will go further.” - Paul Gauger, VisitBritain’s executive vice president of the Americas

Can the travel industry really capitalize on Brexit or the weakened pound by creating targeted marketing campaigns? Is this approach feasible? Is its sustainable? We’ll just wait and see.

Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes

Dan is a content writer specializing in digital marketing, emerging tech, music and looking after a toddler. You can find out more about him and his work by visiting his Catchy Space.

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