Branding & design | 18/03/2016

The places to be: 2016 European travel and marketing trends

Posted by Lawrence Greenlee

Let’s make 2016 a year of amazing travel memories by taking a look at leading travel campaigns, industry opportunities and the best trends.
As a continuously on-trend continent, with a long list of extraordinary places, our research led us quickly into the European travel markets for a very timely discussion on the best places to go and the marketing campaigns that have fueled their popularity.


In the EU, the total amount of nights spent at tourist accommodation has grown faster between 2014 and 2015 for non-residents (+3,5%) than for residents (+3,0%). In absolute terms, it is in Spain (21% of total nights spent by non-residents in the EU), Italy (15%) and France (11%) where non-residents spent the highest number of overnight stays in tourist accommodation establishments.

Growth from UK and Germany is in line with positive economic trends whereas increased demand from France and Italy is resulting from the strong appetite for traditional summer destinations. In the US, the upswing of the economy, a strong US Dollar, and an ever-growing consumer confidence all contribute to the appeal of Europe as a holiday destination.

The majority of European destinations also reported growth of up to 30% from the Chinese tourism market, which suggests that the economic slowdown in China failed to deter tourists´ enthusiasm to travel internationally.


The attractiveness of Europe is unlikely to weaken, but which countries are really going to stand out from the continental crowd?

Tried and trusted destinations look set to benefit from geopolitical uncertainty and it is likely that Spain will be 2016’s top destination: bookings are already tracking well ahead of 2015. Likewise, other European destinations like Portugal and Italy are seeing healthy numbers and are also benefiting from a strong pound bringing down the cost of day-to-day expenses for British holidaymakers. City breaks and beach holidays are set to go head-to-head once again as the top holiday choices; all-inclusive holidays are also in a strong position, with one in five British people (20%) saying they may take an all-inclusive holiday in 2016. There is good news for the cruise industry with 13% saying they are intending to take a cruise in 2016, up slightly from the 10% who actually did so in 2015. (ABTA’s report)


The unstoppable development of the collaborative economy and online travel platforms has offered us a wonderful advertising campaign show this year. Here are five of our favourites:

1) Airbnb

Travel website, Airbnb, has created many pretty impressive campaigns.
Is Mankind?

This was a campaign with the aim to explore the kindness of man. The company was expecting to reverse the perception that the world is full of evil by saying “ We hope it inspires you to look around the world and see it as a child again. To feel safe and loved like adventure is waiting around every corner.” The promoting video features a baby looking out of a window in order to underline innocence and innate kindness.

Never a Stranger

The Never a Stranger campaign was based on the idea of being a tourist without being a tourist. It was one of its largest ad campaign, using real Airbnb hosts in five cities to highlight that its customer services will make you feel local wherever you are.


In its latest campaign #LiveThere, Airbnb promoted their private islands and treehouses through a series of short video clips. They also relied on the upcoming film The Jungle Book to promote their new offer.

2) Travelodge

In order to announce its new arrival of king size beds, the company produced vine animations using the beds themselves. We can tell of a success since the vines were looped over 200,000
times within the first week of publication:


3) Accor Hotel Pacific Asia

We recognise that we’re stepping outside Europe here, but this campaign one of our favourites! Accor Hotel Pacific Asia launched in a Savour, Snap, Share social media campaign across Asia in 2015. Holidaymakers were invited to take food-selfies of themselves enjoying a meal in an Accor property all over the globe. The contest spans a number of social media platforms (Weibo, Facebook and Instagram) and ran until March 9th 2015.

Weekly prizes, including discount vouchers and two night stays, were to win. The campaign has been launched as a consequence of the hotel group’s report which had found that 77% of travellers took photos during their last trip.

4) Airfrance

The well-established travel provider has launched a lot of great marketing campaigns during the past 12 months, including France is in the air.

The campaign was a cross-channel campaign on TV, social media and at the cinema in March 2015 to brand engagement and its ability to offer a unique trip à la Française!

The company then launched its new safety demonstration video – very in tune with the France is in the air ad campaign – which provides the appropriate security measures on board with humour thrown into the mix.

5) Visit England

The England’s Hall of Fame campaign that ran in 2014 won the Public Sector Communications Award 2015 for ‘Best Digital Campaign of the Year’.

The campaign reached more than six million users, received 1000 entries and engaged with 600,000 users. The company’s social media accounts overall saw increases in visitor number of 10%, in other words they gained 20,000 fans and 10,000 followers.

Visit England then created the £1 million #LovetheNorth campaign this February with the aim of encourage British families and couples to spend their next holidays in the recently flood-hit North of England, targeting radio, digital, print and social media audiences and London.

Virgin Trains is supporting the campaign and announced an exclusive 30% off advance bookings discount for twelve weeks to areas affected by recent flooding.

Destination organisations and partners across the North are also pulling together a raft of late availability offers and deals, such as GoLakes who are offering three nights for the price of two and 10% off weekly stays. Click here to view available offers.


Today, the development of the “collaborative accommodation” is becoming an industry trend. Airbnb is flying the flag with approximately 1.4 million homes in 175 countries, followed by HouseTrip (approx. 250 000 offers in Europe), Wimdu, Ficalaemcasa and Bedanfed.

The 2016 traveller will use the cheapest services that companies in the collaborative economy can offer. Services that, up to now, are covering all the needs of the average traveller.

However, the collaborative economy may come under fire from established, traditional accommodation providers that operate under a different, and often more expensive, business model; this year we will witness a struggle between hoteliers and individuals rental housing platforms.

Nevertheless, spending less on housing allows the average traveller to spend more on leisure activities. The year 2016 should confirm this trend and give us an excellent overview of the marketing power of leading market disruptors.

The travel industry is undergoing dramatic changes, but are you prepared? Call the Cobb team on 01273 208913 to discuss how our award-winning digital marketing service channels can grow your travel brand in 2016.