The world of PR is full of some particularly wild and wacky marketing campaign ideas. There’s no better way to get people talking about your brand, gain unbeatable coverage and build partnerships with big names who can boost your status and expand your customer base.
Marketing for luxury travel brands is known for having a sense of refinement and class, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some great PR campaigns and innovative travel marketing stunts in the past which other companies can learn a thing or two from. We’ve rounded up five of our favourite campaigns from the luxury travel industry and shared our thoughts about what makes each of them so special.
In 2017 Canada celebrated the 150th anniversary of its confederation, and global luxury hospitality brand Fairmont Hotels & Resorts decided to honour its Canadian roots with a range of different marketing campaigns to celebrate the occasions and raise awareness of their properties across the country.
One of these PR campaigns was Après in the Air where the world's first "après ski" experience was created at 30,000 feet above ground in a private jet. Global media and luxury travel influencers were invited on a unique chartered plane journey where the aircraft had been decorated to resemble a Fairmont-style ski chalet complete with fur throws, seasonal snacks and après ski-themed goodie bags for every guest.
After the flight, the plane touched down for a round trip staying in three of the brand’s most impressive Candian properties; Fairmont Château Laurier, Fairmont Le Château Montebello and Fairmont Tremblant. The weekend experience included classic winter activities such as ice fishing, skiing, dog sledding, ice skating and luxurious spa treatments at each property. After the initial launch, the experience was made available to the public and the entire Canada 150 integrated campaign was nominated in the 10th Annual Shorty Awards.
Why it makes our list: Offering a unique, first-of-its-kind trip is a classic element of successful PR travel campaigns, and this example perfectly blends the excitement of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a truly luxurious travel experience.
In an iconic example of using a PR campaign to appeal to a new sector of your target audience, Warner Leisure Hotels created the world’s first ‘anti-ageing gin’ in a PR campaign that gained over 1000 pieces of coverage across the world. In partnership with innovative food brand Bompass & Parr, their ‘Anti aGin’ product was created with ingredients including youthful skincare hero collagen and other botanicals said to boost natural radiance and reduce wrinkles and other signs of ageing.
The motivation behind the luxury travel PR campaign was to try and widen the age bracket of the brand’s customer base and target those in the 55+ group, which they did by identifying that gin was the most-ordered drink by both men and women in that category in the hotel’s bars and restaurants across the country.
Whilst the actual anti-ageing effects of drinking the gin are (sadly) minimal, it was a light-hearted and unique campaign idea that not only increased engagement with those in the age range the hotel was trying to target, but also boosted their image by presenting Warner Leisure as a luxury brand that didn’t take itself too seriously.
The gin was not only offered in thirteen hotels across the UK, but a limited number of bottles were also advertised online and sold out in less than 24 hours.
Why it makes our list: There are so many aspects of this campaign that absolutely hit the spot when it comes to identifying what makes an unbeatable luxury travel PR stunt; a clear target audience, supported by data, a unique product and a limited edition aspect that boosted interest and engagement.
Marriott’s Autograph Collection is an international selection of independent, luxury hotels that include The Ben West Palm in Florida, home to the unique ‘Book Butler’ service. Instead of a classic room service menu, this PR campaign gives guests a list of literary classics and modern bestsellers to choose from, and all they have to do is choose an item off the menu, dial the Book Butler from their room’s phone and wait for their reading material to be hand-delivered to their door.
A ‘Book Bites’ menu is also available, offering small plate dishes inspired by each book choice.
The Crepe Gatsby anyone? One Flew Over the Couscous Nest?
This wonderfully quirky idea is a partnership between the hotel and local bookshop The Palm Beach Book Store as a way of building on the rich, literary heritage of The Ben, which already features bookish delights such as secret sliding bookcases in some of the bedrooms. Anyone ordering from the ‘Book Butler’ menu has the option to either take their complimentary paperback and custom bookmark home with them or donate the text to the West Palm Beach Library Foundation.
Why it makes our list: Not only does this tick all the boxes for a brilliant quirky PR campaign, it’s also a great example of how to build on your brand’s existing USP (a hotel with a strong literary theme) and create a new service that will appeal to exactly the right target audience segment. The link to charity is also an excellent touch - a feature that works particularly well for luxury travel brands.
In ‘Operation Out of Office’, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts offered overworked Americans the chance to not only take time off work, but also get paid for doing it. This luxury travel PR campaign used a competition format to collect nominations of hard-working people who were deemed to be particularly deserving of a two-week break, whether they were entered by friends and family or by themselves!
Not only did the winner of this competition get to enjoy a fortnight’s holiday - which could be taken either as a continuous break or as several smaller trips - but they also earned $5,000 for their time away from work. The brand included a Wyndham Rewards Diamond membership in the prize as well, allowing perks such as suite upgrades and late checkouts.
The only condition was that the lucky holidaymaker had to share their experiences on social media whilst they were away - a pretty sweet deal if you ask us.
This travel marketing campaign was not only about drawing attention to the holiday experiences offered by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, but also aimed to highlight the importance of taking a break and treating yourself at a time when so many people were feeling overworked and overwhelmed.
Why it makes our list: Competition style PR campaigns are always a good bet for a lot of engagement and coverage, particularly when the prize on offer is an experience as unique as getting paid to go on holiday. Getting the winner to share social media content of their experience is also a smart move, as it keeps the campaign going even after the competition element is over and gives the brand ‘free’ exposure.
When working from home suddenly became the norm for a lot of the population in March 2020, there was plenty of PR activity surrounding unique remote working options and experiences. The ‘work-from-rainforest’ package by Nayara Tented Camp in Costa Rica was a brilliant luxury take on this idea that offered digital nomads the chance to live and work in an exclusive holiday resort consisting of twenty-one private glamping tents right on the edge of the Arenal Volcano National Park.
The exclusive ‘workation’ package offered guests the chance to stay in luxurious tents that come with their own wifi, air-conditioning and verandas with private plunge pools overlooking the Costa Rican rainforest. The experience included daily yoga classes, massages to work out any tension from sitting at a desk all day, French press coffee to fuel creativity at all hours, and both breakfast and lunch brought to the tent each morning.
Nayara Tented Camp’s location made it ideal for a travel experience that combined work with exploration, offering all the facilities necessary for quiet focus along with chances to get out and see nearby towns, forests and national parks,
Why it makes our list: We saw a lot of PR campaigns in the travel industry responding to the mass shift to working from home. This one is a brilliant example of a luxury brand creating a package that understands the assignment whilst still maintaining an exclusive, high-end feel. The quirky glamping element and unique location made it memorable, whilst the appeal of a private resort and exclusive access to things like natural hot springs attracted the kind of luxurious travellers that Nayara Tented Camp are trying to target.
Luxury travel and tourism PR often gets the most attention because of the exclusive or unique nature of the experiences or events organised for campaigns. The above examples all showcase some of the best techniques for great PR campaigns; first-of-their-kind products, unique travel opportunities, quirky services and chances to win exclusive experiences.
People love to watch or read about outlandish and luxurious travel opportunities even if they’d never actually be able to enjoy them themselves, and luxury brands can make the most of this wanderlust with campaign ideas that tap into what their target audience daydream about when they think about going on holiday.