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5 Ways to Drive Arrivals Through Transport Partnerships

Branding a place is one thing, but showcasing how to get to your destination by marketing with transportation providers is a whole other way to generate consumer attention. Consider how the many air, road and train options that bring visitors to your destination can become moments to share marketing messages. Think creatively about how you can leverage transportation providers to create campaigns that bolster your destination’s brand. 

Not only will it attract consumer attention, but it will help get members of the travel trade and even other transportation providers themselves looking to collaborate with your destination. Especially for destinations looking to add new routes to bring in passengers, a little creativity will go a long way.

These five ideas are just sparks to get you accelerating towards more engaging and all-encompassing destination branding before and after visitors even arrive!

1. Engage Travelers as They Travel

Creative marketing inside public transit is a winning solution. The train that goes to Versailles in Paris, for example, is decked out to look like the famed Hall of Mirrors. Creating buzzworthy moments in another  city’s transit, however, is a unique way to reinforce your messaging in other markets, before visitors arrive. When the U.S. Virgin Island used wrapped Ubers in Philadelphia while sponsoring the Made in America music festival this year, it reached locals as they traveled to and from the event.

Get your campaign out there on public transit like Visit Baltimore did in New York, using Baltimore’s edgy urban image to appeal to a very edgy and urban consumer. It’s a way to reach like-minded travelers and plant a seed on fertile ground while they have nothing but time to look at the ads around them. Plus, what better time to dream of a vacation than during a New York City morning commute!

2. Take an Express Approach with Social Media Takeovers

Airline social media takeovers can highlight places your destination is connected to directly. Eurostar does this amazingly well between Paris and London, while Ryanair’s TikTok has received applause. Working with these brands is a powerful way to elevate your destination’s visibility by piggybacking on each other’s platforms.

Marketing with airlift providers means working together. And it may even spark a little competition among airlines looking to increase service or convert more bookings to your destination. It’s easier to negotiate new airlift when you can prove travelers are actively searching your destination online.

3. Immerse Travelers Before They Even Land 

Southwest recently gave free ukulele lessons to passengers on a flight to Hawaii. While that one business traveler looking to get some work done may have been miffed, for the rest of the passengers it was an engaging way to experience a bit of Hawaii while en route. It’s less of a social media takeover and more of just a takeover!

By setting the tone with specific messaging and experiences upfront, destinations can help guide and inform visitors while in transit with the messages they want to put forward.

4. Develop Deals to Reach Regional Vacationers

Times are tough and spending decisions are more scrutinized than ever by travelers, but a well-placed deal will make the difference between someone booking a trip to your destination or not. To attract visitors – especially those closer to you – marketing with transportation providers to offer timely deals will support off-season efforts.

SunRail in Florida introduced buy-one-get-one deals in the past, and the railway offered free rides to students this year during “college week.” Amtrak’s California Rail Pass offers regional travel like the Eurail passes that backpackers love. It’s just one of a host of regional promotions that Amtrak provides.

Creating these sorts of opportunities that feature your destination encourages visitors from nearby destinations to train or fly to your destination when it may not be the obvious choice. Additionally, creating those local or regional deals is a way to leverage relationships with transit providers so that they, as well as your local businesses, can keep busy during the off-season. Keep the traffic coming so that transit providers will keep – and hopefully augment – routes to your destination.

5. Transform Hubs into Branded Experiences

We’ve all seen the videos of people playing pianos in train stations, but let’s use these spaces to spread destination-specific messages more creatively. No one wants an information counter – or at least no one is going to write home about one. Instead they want an experience to share on social media or gush about later, so give them one. 

Long Beach, California, for example, keeps its quirky local messaging strong by only allowing local businesses to operate within its terminal. Meanwhile, plenty of non-travel brands are already using airports to create more brand awareness. Destinations should channel this energy into similar experiences to share their messages. Organize a pop up food stand in a train station by the tracks to your destination or work with airports to hold a cultural demonstration just before security or in a waiting area if possible. 

Transit hubs don’t just need to be the spaces between destinations. They can be effective bookends that let you set the tone for visitors’ experiences. Start spreading your destination messages before they arrive, and you’ll catch the attention of travelers who may be going elsewhere but will be thinking of you when they book their next trip.

Thinking about marketing with transportation providers in your city or region? DCI has more than 60 years of working to find creative solutions for destination clients worldwide. Get in touch with Amalia Meliti at [email protected] to learn more about what we can do for you.

Written By

Amalia Meliti

Amalia has fifteen years of destination marketing experience, having worked in both the travel trade and earned media space for destinations throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. She currently directs DCI’s travel trade marketing efforts in both the U.S. and Canada.

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