DestinationsMelbourne, a place that is uniquely special in its own way

Visit Victoria: Tailor-made Marketing Promotion a Success

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We spoke with Ms. Carmen Smith, the Head of International Marketing at Visit Victoria, to better understand the inception and concept of this high-profile marketing brand campaign. At the same time, she shared her views on the challenges and opportunities for destination promotion organizations in China market nowadays.

Partnering with new generation actor Li Xian as its Greater China brand ambassador, Visit Victoria’s new China campaign - “Melbourne, a place that is uniquely special in its own way,” was launched in March 2018. Since its launch the campaign has won praises from the industry and market. At time of publication, the campaign has generated more than 250 million impressions in total.

Setting itself apart from other destinations, Visit Victoria challenged the norm of conventional marketing promotion of a destination, which usually concentrates on outdoor advertising, and instead focused its initiatives in integrating traditional offline media and emerging online media which showcases Melbourne and Victoria across multiple channels. In addition, Visit Victoria created innovative, attention grabbing content through travel stories with brand ambassador Li Xian in Melbourne highlighting Victoria’s diverse and unique travel experiences. Such an approach is much more demanding and invested in terms of effort and creativity as well as team work. Nevertheless, for Visit Victoria, choosing “the hard way” has successfully produced a powerful, emotionally-driven campaign which resonates strongly with its target audience.

We spoke with Ms. Carmen Smith, the Head of International Marketing at Visit Victoria, to better understand the inception and concept of this high-profile marketing brand campaign. At the same time, she shared her views on the challenges and opportunities for destination promotion organizations in China market nowadays.

Q: Why did Visit Victoria choose Li Xian as the brand ambassador in the Greater China market? What are the personality traits of Li that attract and cover more target audiences of Visit Victoria?
A: It is not easy for us to identify an ambassador that strongly aligned with our brand positioning. We were looking for a person that most closely matched the character of Victoria and Melbourne, not only from a personal image and professionalism perspective, but also a person's character. His unique, inquisitive and energetic character matches perfectly with Victoria's diverse qualities. In other words, Li Xian is the perfect choice for us to present the state’s unique cultural vitality and stunning natural landscapes. This partnership with Li is geared to building a greater understanding of the Melbourne and Victoria for our travelers. 

In addition, Li is relatable to the target group, as he represents the persona of this group growing, learning and discovering together. With this, we think it is easier to arouse emotional resonance and connect with them.

Q: Could you please share with us the achievement and results of the China brand campaign so far?
A: The newly launched China campaign which showcases Melbourne and Victoria was seen across multiple consumer channels, including online television, digital and social media platforms. Data released in the end of May 2018 shows that the campaign has 250 million impressions in total, generated 1.8M clicks to the Visit Melbourne China website and over 1.7M clicks to the mobile and social platform, reaching 97% of the target audience in tier 1 and tier 2 cities in China. Following the campaign, Visit Victoria’s WeChat and Weibo followers increased to 800,000 on in total.

Q: What do you think is the key that makes this campaign unique and successful? 
A: 
The new China campaign targets the elite millennial generation of travelers who are independent, savvy aged between 25 to 45 years old which is a shift from our previous campaigns. They are sophisticated travellers at the leading edge of urban trends, highly engaged online and use social media to plan and share their travel experiences. With this, we hope to welcome more Chinese travelers to our unique city and state and add us as a must-visit travel destination in Australia. The campaign has been developed to focus on the feelings and psychological needs of travellers by promoting Melbourne’s distinctive and diverse offerings. After extensive research, we eventually decided that Melbourne’s story would be best told through the eyes of brand ambassador Li Xian highlighting the destination’s distinctive and aspirational characteristics. 

The campaign TVC follows the story of Li Xian arriving in Melbourne filled with anticipation and feeling somewhat at loss in exploring a destination he is unfamiliar with. Next, through his experience, he gradually becomes a more confident person through his adventures, as the TVC rolls out. This serves as an aspiration for viewers as everybody wants to be more confident and have their unique identity. This is also what we hope Melbourne will offer to visitors as a travel destination. Based on this, Visit Victoria's marketing team and associated creative agencies continued to seek innovative new concepts using the latest technology and platforms to ensure that marketing continues to be at the forefront and reaches its target audiences.

For Visit Victoria, the importance of the campaign is to entice travellers to visit and experience the destination - to come to know it, to discover it, and to open their mind to become a cool, confident, unique and better version of themselves. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to convert destination awareness and aspiration to visit into actual bookings, and deliver better experience to visitors.

Q: What else can you tell us about your target tourists? What are their characteristics and preferences? 
A: 
In general, they are looking for individuality that will give them special and meaningful travel experiences. It is also one of the key messages we built into the storyline with Li Xian in the campaign:-If you go to Melbourne, you will come back as “a better person”. 

In addition, these travelers are highly engaged on online digital platforms. They are always active on social media and they like to share travel experiences with others. Therefore, we took the advantage to leverage our presence on social media and digital platforms for this campaign. For example, we launched a H5 game on WeChat, whereby Li Xian returns from Melbourne and realises that he has lost his phone, in which users can easily participate to help Li Xian find his cellphone that got “lost” in Melbourne. Through the game, users will have a basic recognition of famous tourist attractions in Melbourne. Our data shows that the H5 game received 213,000 visits in just two weeks following the launch.

Q: FIT(Foreign Independent Tourist) is now a growing global travel trend, especially for the young generations. What adjustment of market strategy will Visit Victoria make to cope with the development of the market?
A:
To run a successful campaign, the first thing is to promote awareness of a destination. Once you catch the public’s attention, the next step is to attract them to be more interested in the destination by offering more information online via search engines in China such as Baidu. After that, people will search for more detailed travel plans and product information via booking platforms in China such as Ctrip. Overall, our goal is to convert the increased awareness and aspiration to visit into actual bookings.

Also, we must ensure that present travellers in Melbourne have a favourable and satisfactory experience during their visit. This will in turn make them more willing to recommend Melbourne to their parents and friends. Through this, there will be more interest in Melbourne and more and more people will eventually make travel plans to visit. 

Q: How can Visit Victoria further expand the influence of the promotion plan with the power of Chinese tourism partners? 
A: In this brand promotion, Visit Victoria has organised a large number of integrated marketing activities with OTAs, airlines and other trade partners. For example, recently our partner Air China, placed a flight simulator at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which people can test to experience the simulated flight and take a special photo with Captain Li Xian. In addition, Air China will place graphic and video promotional materials of Visit Victoria in its inflight entertainment system and other channels. 

The main task for Visit Victoria team is to communicate, continually influence and negotiate with partners to keep Melbourne at the top of mind. We are here to work in partnership and help them (partners) to increase sales of tourism products by taking full advantage of the existing promotion content and materials available, to enhance their awareness and influence in order to make Melbourne as the most popular tourist attraction. Visit Victoria will use various promotional methods to undertake a series of publicity campaigns, bringing Melbourne's unique and aspirational quality to more Chinese tourists. We hope that the marketing in China will be as distinct as the new brand strategy theme––“Melbourne, a place that is uniquely special in its own way”.

Q: What other promotion plans will Visit Victoria make for the Chinese market?
A:
Visit Victoria will continue to work hard to further consolidate and expand the influence of “Melbourne, a place that is uniquely special in its own way” campaign in the China market and we are currently planning activities for 2019. Our biggest challenge now is to utilise various resources at its optimum level, continuously surpass ourselves, meet the public’s expectations, and achieve greater success based on this year’s achievements. All these efforts are helpful to the development of the tourism economy of Victoria.

OFFICIAL STATISTICS
China is currently Victoria’s largest international source market for visitors, visitor nights and expenditure. According to our latest statistics, China continues to be the largest source of international visitors of Victoria, with double-digit growth of 15.5% recorded in the year ending June 2018 to reach 664,000 visitors. Chinese visitor expenditure increased by 16.7% to reach over $3.0 billion. It has more than doubled over the past four years and contributed 37.9% of total international overnight spend in Victoria. By 2020, 900,000 travelers from China are expected to visit Victoria.


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