Witchery + Excite Holidays + Santa Monica

Gate 7 facilitated a meeting of the minds in a brand partnership with Witchery aimed to attract a highly relevant target market, share key messages, and highlight the depth and diversity of Santa Monica, California. Beyond delivering a stunning photoshoot from the destination, Gate 7 also negotiated a destination guide which encouraged Witchery customers to dream of their perfect Santa Monica holiday further driving brand awareness. A number of travel trade and airline partners such as Virgin Australia and Excite Holidays were engaged by Gate 7 to close the loop by creating lucrative CTAs which drove a 95% increase in year-on-year revenue.

Background & Challenge

Famed for its beach-front beauty, arts and culinary scenes, walkability and close access to many of Southern California’s many attractions and icons, especially LAX, Santa Monica Travel and Tourism wanted to use the city’s stylish and aspirational positioning to expand awareness and desire within the Australian market and turn that awareness into bookings for the destination.

While traditional media and travel trade campaigns might achieve these goals, the tourism board wanted to make a splash by partnering with a brand that spoke to their own values, had a sizeable distribution network for newly created content, and reached a highly relevant audience for Santa Monica.

Strategy & Solution

Aligning with Santa Monica’s USP as a centre of fashion and visual art, a fashion brand was the obvious choice for a partnership. After assessing a number of large-scale brands, Gate 7 partnered with Witchery, a leading women’s clothing brand with over 180 retail stores across Australia and New Zealand and a website reaching over 23,000 unique daily viewers. Additionally, their social media and EDM database extended their reach to a further 1.5 million customers, allowing a massive exposure to a highly relevant consumer segment.

To support the new partnership, Witchery created an exclusive set of make-up products and shot all promotional imagery for their Santa Monica-inspired range at a beach house in-destination. Following this, the imagery was also used in a collection of POS, e-newsletter, social media and website content highlighting Santa Monica, as well as for a destination guide within Witchery’s online magazine, The Witchery Report. Finally, to drive email sign-ups for Santa Monica’s database, Witchery ran a consumer competition for a five-night Santa Monica itinerary.

To connect inspiration with sales conversion, Gate 7 engaged travel trade and airline partners: Virgin Australia, Excite Holidays, and Flight Centre. Virgin Australia provided bookable fare call-to-action to LAX and promoted a number of Santa Monica properties to their customers. Excite Holidays and Flight Centre used Witchery vouchers to drive competitions for travel agents and consumers respectively through the campaign period, further driving sales and destination awareness. This full integration of trade elements within the brand partnership was the critical fulcrum between a general awareness campaign and achieving sales objectives with provable ROI; a frequent challenge for DMOs.

Learnings & Results

On a total budget of $30,000, the campaign proved to be one of Santa Monica Travel and Tourism’s most successful. Australian travel to the destination increased massively, with room nights increasing over 50% for Excite Holidays bookings, and a whopping 1000% for Virgin Australia Holidays, leading to a YoY increase in revenue of 95% on the destination for Excite Holidays alone. Additionally, with over 7,500 new database sign-ups and nearly 22,000 competition entrants, the content distribution and brand awareness objectives were easily achieved. Google search trends related to the destination rose 38% YoY following the campaign period

Witchery also saw a sizeable outcome thanks to the drawcard of the destination, with over 480,000 unique browsers accessing content throughout the campaign period. Aside from returning huge revenue on investment, the campaign was also massively successful within the industry, earning the U.S. Travel Association’s “2016 Educational Seminar for Tourism Organisations Destiny Award.”