Online travel agencies (OTAs) have made a tremendous difference to travellers. From anywhere with an internet connection they can browse flights, hotels, itineraries and consumer reviews, not only ensuring a perfect (and unique) trip, but a low price too.
But with so many OTAs to choose from, almost all offering special offers and discounts, consumers can be overwhelmed. AsiaRooms.com needed a way to stand out in a crowded market, engaging with consumers in a meaningful way to establish top of mind awareness rather than simply trying to compete through never ending special offers.
The campaign was designed to create a platform for customers to engage with the brand in a novel way that would stir their curiosity around AsiaRooms.com’s offerings.
Given that Asiarooms.com is, as the name suggests, a website, its target audience was quickly identified as digitally savvy consumers – PMEBs and families who seek easy and user-friendly ways to find the ideal accommodation for their holidays.
But how best to target these people in a way that was consistent with the brand? There were three components to Mediacom’s strategy:
1) Initial research showed that 94% of online users in Singapore engage with social media, so the campaign had to have a social component. But it had to be an integrated campaign, so it needed to go where the audience was. The MRT has over 2.6 million journeys a day and, as a means of transport, ties in perfectly with a travel agency. It was the obvious place.
2) The campaign was scheduled for Q1 2013 and Mediacom soon realised that February, the month of love, was the ideal event to piggyback to reach the target audience.
3) On the same theme, everyone wants a unique wedding proposal, but Singapore is a small country and therefore offers limited opportunities to stand out from the crowd. This was identified as something the agency could leverage.
The strategy: “Romance of Travel” would spread love throughout the country.
Mediacom rebranded an MRT train as the Love Train (the first-ever in-train activation in Singapore), with each of the six carriages representing a relationship stage: puppy love, courtship, proposals, marriage, families and finally love in the golden-years. In keeping with the travel theme, carriages were decorated with images of romantic destinations around the world, while roaming Cupids interacted with thousands of commuters to ask them what love meant to them.
The conversation was continued online via Love Trails, a Facebook app, which offered prizes to thousands of commuters who shared their love stories by pinning badges, such as first kiss or first date, to an interactive map of the city. It further developed a “#Loveis” Twitter contest, engaging fans to share what love meant to them, with a chance of having their tweets published within the “Love Train”.
The main event was two live marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day in front of crowds of cheering commuters, organised in conjunction with proposal planner helpyoumarry.com. A press conference was held near the Harbourfront MRT station after which journalists and bloggers were given a tour of the Love Train (the location was chosen because the train stops for slightly longer). The entire activation was precision timed as doors only open for 30 seconds at most stations. The couples boarded at Outram Park where the boyfriends (with whom we had liaised all day) proposed to their unsuspecting girlfriends in front of commuters and journalists. Best of all, they both said yes!
Market share increased by almost 70% during the campaign period. As the first-ever in-train activation in Singapore it generated enormous PR coverage. The marriage proposals were broadcast on prime-time news across all MediaCorp TV channels on 14 February 2013, and published in top titles including The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao and Shin Min Daily News as well as a variety of blogs, generating PR coverage worth an estimated $200,000.
The media owner was so pleased with the viral effect that it extended the in-train branding for 50 days for free, providing media valued at $168,350. The campaign delivered a return on advertising investment of 3.07x, and increased site traffic by 48% compared to the same period in 2012.