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Navigating troubled waters

Discover how a Tasmanian travel operator arrested falling passenger numbers by showing more faith – not less – in its media partners by turning up the volume on its creative, as this marketing case study shows.

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Top Line

spirit-of-tasmania1Falling passenger numbers for the Spirit of Tasmania meant the operator, TT Line, needed to change its marketing approach. It turned up the volume with better creative and more frequent campaigns.

The result:

  • 8% increase in passenger traffic
  • 14% increase in forward bookings

Background

The Spirit of Tasmania ferry service between Melbourne and Devonport achieved seven years of successive operating profit, but airlines were taking market share. Passenger numbers were down 8 per cent and vehicles numbers fell 5 per cent. TT-Line ran seven ad campaigns, including “Drive straight into your next holiday”, but did not arrest the slide.

Objective

Create a more powerful marketing proposition to increase passenger bookings and maintain profitability.

Solution

The company increased its customer acquisition budget by 22%, changed the advertising program with new creative for the branding campaign, and increased the number of campaigns.

TT Line launched “Sea the Difference” in Melbourne’s Sunday papers, focusing on the advantages of taking the ferry instead of flying to Tasmania.

This was the first of 12 campaigns, with ads in newspapers reaching an estimated 73% of Victorians and 53% of Tasmanians (73% reach in Melbourne and 82% in Hobart) , as well as online and on TV, combining brand campaigns with offer-driven retail ads.

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Bottom Line

The campaign scored positively on business and marketing measures:

Business outcomes:

  • Passenger numbers increased 8 per cent year-on-year to 360,000 visits
  • Forward bookings increased 14%
  • Passengers added an estimated $280 million to the Tasmanian economy
  • The Spirit of Tasmania achieved its 8th successive year of operating profit.
  • Travel by ship was the preferred way to travel to Tasmania.

Marketing Outcomes

  • 90% of respondents recalled seeing ads for travel between Melbourne and Tasmania
  • Of these, 94% recalled Spirit of Tasmania advertising
  • In Melbourne, Spirit of Tasmania had the highest top-of-mind awareness for travel between Melbourne and Tasmania
  • Website traffic went up 22% YOY
  • Facebook “Likes” increased 87%

Takeaway

Courage is needed when faced with diminishing buyer numbers. The instinct to reduce costs will often take hold but this can be a mistake. TT-Line shows a business can use marketing to navigate out of troubled waters.

Newspapers were a critical element in this campaign, using stand-out creative and high reach to build recall and attract new customers.

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