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Tourism Northern Ireland

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“A SMALL STEP TO A GIANT ADVENTURE”

 Mammoth are specialists in destination marketing and since 2020 have worked with Tourism Northern Ireland (TNI) as their strategic media planning and buying agency to deliver campaigns across the island of Ireland. Our strategy is born from in-depth understanding of the tourism market.  

The Challenge

Put Northern Ireland in the consideration mindset of the ROI target audience when planning a holiday or short break. From the start of the journey in 2020, we were confronted with the unchartered waters of COVID.  We had to deliver destination marketing campaigns with recurring lockdowns. TNI commissioned research through ‘Spark Foundry’ highlighted lack of knowledge, COVID safety concerns and a quality tourism offering on their ‘doorstep’ were barriers to attracting ROI visitors. 

Our Insight

Turn the tables on Covid and capitalise on the uncertainty around foreign travel to encourage ROI audiences to ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’ and  take the ‘Small Step to a Giant Adventure’ reinforcing the proximity message. Factoring in the highly competitive ROI tourism market with advertising spends in excess of £30 million per annum, meant we needed to punch above our weight to put Northern Ireland in the consideration mindset. Our media budgets could not rival the bigger players in the market, so we needed to establish our key media partners to go on our journey. These partners needed to have audience, not only on traditional channels but also have cultivated a serious digital footprint across social, web, app and email databases. This was inextricably linked with our creative strategy to make Northern Ireland feel irresistibly close through A Small Step to a Giant Adventure’ campaign. The hook was proximity, but the emphasis was ‘adventure’ and that took many guises. We wanted to emotively connect, inspire and ultimately drive ‘FOMO.’  

KPIs

  • 25% increase in visitor NUMBERS from the RoI market (vs 2019) 
  • 30% 30% increase in visitor SPEND from the RoI market (vs 2019) 
  • 20% increase in the number of first time short-break visitors to NI from the Republic of Ireland market. Attracting new visitors to Northern Ireland is key. High satisfaction levels from ROI visitors to NI was leading to repeat visits and strong word-of-mouth recommendation.  

The Strategy

Tourism has changed dramatically in the last 10 years and online is the go-to information resource for travel research, planning and booking. 85%* of Ireland’s key market segments use the internet to book all or some elements of their holiday. However, it is the continued power of offline media to emotively connect, to drive the online behaviour, to create the interest and desire to act which is key. We had to shift perceptions, improve knowledge and build confidence to drive bookings.

We combined TGI media profiling to create a ‘Media Day in the Life’, with the latest TNI commissioned research from ‘Spark Foundry’ to identify the key audiences to target at the right time on their go-to channels to deliver conversion.  

We partnered with media broadcasters in Ireland to deliver a campaign which exploited everything within their armoury to capture our audiences in their ‘media moments’ across the day, pushing our audience across the consideration journey. 

The Results

Channel  Role  
TV  Mass awareness build, emotively connect, contextual positioning in travel, lifestyle and escapism content. Bespoke TV sponsorships 
BVOD Amplify and extend the coverage of  linear TV. Bespoke audience and genre targeting plus top trending programming. 
OOH Destination sell on epic 240 sheets. Digital Bridges and Golden Squares, Digital Takeovers of leading commuter hubs.  
Radio & Digital audio &social Weather and Entertainment News Sponsorships, Outside Broadcasts, Spot advertising, on air and online competitions 
Press, social & Digital display Inspirational long form 24-hour itinerary advertorials, bespoke print and digital supplements, travel takeovers , native content with support Social and contextually targeted display. We incorporated our ‘Good to Go’ safety messaging with the myriad of things to do and see in NI. 
ROI to NI Jan – Dec 2019 Jan – Dec 2022 % Change 
Trips 755,795 1,138,000 +51% 
Nights 1,858,509 2,631,000 +42% 
Spend (£) 141,736,824 233,355,133 +65% 

 

Our campaign effectiveness is measured not only in awareness and consideration, but in real numbers: the people who VISIT and how much they actually SPEND while they’re in NI. We have taken TNI on a journey to overcome legacy and contemporary challenges to increase visitor volume and value beyond expectations, creating a catalyst for long term growth. 

The figures speak for themselves, 51% growth in trips and 65% uplift in spend, far exceeding our 25% and 30% target. Most importantly, 52% of visitor from RoI in 2022 were first time Visitors. Of those RoI visitors that choose NI for the first time 60% said they intended to return in 2023. 

The latest data from the CSO Travel Survey for the period from Jan -Sep 2023 shows the continued positive momentum, with 1.1 million trips (up 62% yoy for the same period), with 2.5 million bednights (+59%) and a spend of £221 million (+69%)  

Source: CSO Household Travel Survey Data, NI & ROI, 2022 &2023