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SLTA Enhances International Marketing Efforts to Boost Tourism Recovery

The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) is enhancing marketing efforts to attract travelers from its main source markets. As consumers begin to gain confidence in travel and the winter getaway season begins, SLTA marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns highlight travel trends, low Covid-19 cases and safety protocols. The campaigns are driven by new insights in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as strategies that increase paid and editorial exposure in primary travel markets.

The US and the UK combined comprised approximately 65 percent of the inbound air traffic to Saint Lucia. To date, more than 7,000 visitors have arrived since the island welcomed its first flight on July 9th, 2020. Since reopening, the UK and the US market combined represent more than 90 percent of tourism arrivals. This steady flow has allowed for the successful management of the responsible reopening process. The SLTA has actively engaged with other carriers on cooperative marketing programs to amplify efforts.

Internationally, SLTA is at the forefront of tourism marketing creating standout campaigns in these regions to speak directly to travelers and move Saint Lucia to the top of the consideration set as they begin to make their holiday considerations. Keeping with consumer sentiment, overall marketing messages are shifting to call-to-action campaigns that appeal to potential travelers who feel the need for a holiday getaway, underscored by protocols and safety. As many celebratory milestones have been missed as a result of the pandemic, various themes are being promoted internationally for travelers to revisit and recreate their weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

On a global scale, the public relations teams are actively promoting the thought leadership of Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet in market, highlighting the island’s responsible resumption of tourism and coexisting with Covid. The Prime Minister has been quoted in national print and online media, as well as interviewed on several national TV broadcasts. These include The New York Times, Cheddar News, CNBC “Power Lunch” and the Miami Herald in the US; CHCH Morning Live in Canada; and Sky News, BBC World News and The Times in the UK. In addition, Minister of Tourism Hon. Dominic Fedee conducted travel industry media interviews in all markets, promoting opening news and protocols. Several Video News Releases were distributed, with specific messaging to travel agents and consumers, educating and inviting them to Saint Lucia.

North American Market

Regular airlift from the US has resumed with American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue. Marketing efforts focus on the major gateways of South Florida / Miami, Atlanta, the New York tri-state area, as well as key feeder markets of Chicago and Dallas.

Recent surveys have shown that travelers want to get away safely, seeking open air options and water sports. (Source: Google Data Short ‘Travel in 2020 Trends.’) Following that trend, PR is actively promoting the many activities that are now available for visitors. In addition, upcoming media moments include pitching destination-wide Cyber Monday deals in November, tapping into popular culture with a campaign that has proven successful in past years. The team is also pitching holiday travel, planning early for 2021 vacations and more. Themed public relations pitches drive consumers to book with calls to action like attractive air fares, hotel deals, niche getaways (dive, wellness) and milestones (birthdays, celebrations). And this winter, the individual visiting journalist program is resuming, with travel writers on assignment beginning to visit Saint Lucia to write first-hand accounts of their experiences.

On the digital marketing side, campaigns are focusing on bookings, enticing users by highlighting competitive pricing. The supporting creative keeps within the “She is Saint Lucia” message. A new digital marketing campaign is targeted to users considering a trip to the Caribbean or Saint Lucia, reaching consumers on various channels including direct distribution channels. The SLTA has also partnered with American Airlines on a multi-faceted campaign launching September 22, featuring email marketing to more than 13 million AAdvantage members, a supporting social media campaign and incentivizing AA Booking Agents.

Also aligning with current sentiment and trends in the US market, the SLTA sales unit has remained active in the travel trade and consumer spaces. Prior investments creating digital real estate, innovating sales tools and activating effective channels such as multi-media communication, virtually has allowed for a seamless transition to customer engagement in the new virtual sales environment. And, this engages the travel trade as an extension of the sales force. Examples include weekly webinars, interactive Zoom sessions with hotel partners and creative travel advisor sessions such as crafting local cocktails while learning about the destination. The data-driven, targeted approach has translated into campaigns which marry airlift and key source markets to systematically convert prospects successfully. The overall strategy continues to leverage technology and analytics to ensure that key messages make it to the market in the shortest time possible, with feedback loops to ensure success and crisis management. The plan also includes a comprehensive roster of activities targeting the retail, wholesale and consumer segments strategically.

The SLTA has been working aggressively in the Canadian market with the airlines and tour operators. Marketing, public relations and sales efforts continue to support the Canadian market, to proactively promote travel when flights resume.

UK Market

British Airways flies directly to Saint Lucia from London Gatwick. Currently, the schedule is due to increase to welcome four flights per week by mid-October.

The Saint Lucia website has dedicated UK pages and since the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) lifted its travel restrictions and selected Saint Lucia as one of the destinations in the travel corridor, there has been a shift in messaging from awareness to a call to action. The offers page has therefore been relaunched with 20 UK tour operators participating.

A new advertising campaign themed around the message of ‘She is Waiting’ has been launched in 12 major out of home sites. This coincides with the major British Airways sale which prominently features Saint Lucia as a key Caribbean winter sun destination. September also sees two additional consumer e-newsletters to more than 35,000 people, with tour operator offers to prompt winter sun 2020 and summer/winter 2021 bookings.

And with Saint Lucia’s reputation secured as a favoured place for a romantic holiday, a promotion has just been successfully completed with leading weddings website Hitched.co.uk reaching an audience of 339,000.

To further engage with trade, the UK SLTA team is hosting regular webinars for agents and operators. To support trade communication, e-newsletters with trade offers have been sent out to the database of 11,000 partners each time. The webinars continue throughout the year to keep trade updated on protocols and to profile certified hotels plus getting back to face-to-face sales calls. World Travel Market is a virtual event for 2020 taking place in November and the SLTA will be participating.

Coming up in the UK, consumers and trade will continue to be engaged and inspired through a new TV campaign in October featuring the second ‘She is Saint Lucia’ film. This is supported by digital advertising. Autumn and winter sees editorial themes turn to long haul travel, which increases opportunities for Saint Lucia in articles and commentary. In addition to continuing to update on protocols and the phased reopening of tourism, the press office will also utilise creative themes for further coverage such as wellness, culinary and nature and wildlife. In addition, ongoing monitoring of media and competitor destinations mean that PR can be opportunistic in securing further share of voice. Carefully curated media and influencer trips have started again alongside dedicated UK social media support.

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