The transformation of the London Tourist Board into Visit London in 2003 resulted in a reversal of the long-term decline of London’s worldwide tourism share and delivered enormous economic benefit to London.
From 2004, Visit London ran integrated marketing campaigns maximising synergies between advertising, PR and their website, visitlondon.com, in order to increase:
- number of visitors
- resultant economic activity
- stakeholder activity
The creative strategy was to communicate that every visit to London is a different experience as there are always new things to see and do – “London. It’s a different city every day” – giving examples of its diversity and positioning London as cheeky, lively and fun while challenging negative perceptions.
From 2004, advertising in Europe rolled out across Western Europe and in eight major cities in the USA.
The media strategy had one clear objective: to talk to the audience in a non-traditional way so as to position London as a brand alongside Coke and Pepsi.
TV was rejected on budgetary and strategic grounds, but a wide range of media was used: radio, press and magazines (avoiding travel press), outdoor, ambient, press trips, press stunts and events and exhibitions.
Various PR campaigns were executed including live dance on the Underground, a Giant Jigsaw Puzzle and “Cabbies across the USA” tour in September 2004 where five cabbies took a two week, 4000 mile journey from Boston to San Francisco via thirteen cities.
There was a 67 per cent increase in average monthly impressions on visitlondon.com from Western Europe between 2004 and 2005, way above the 7 per cent increase in internet access across the EU.
Results: Perception Shifts
Shifts in perceptions of London from consumer surveys pre and post campaign:
- good value for money USA +11 per cent
- changing for the better UK +4 per cent, France +4 per cent
- many new things to see and do. France +5 per cent, Spain +5 per cent, USA +3 per cent
London’s share of global tourism increased from 1.69 per cent in 2003 to 1.76 per cent in 2004.
Results: Economic benefits
London’s visitor spending increased by 9.6 per cent in 2004 and tourism as a whole delivered an additional £770 million of economic benefit to London’s economy in 2003/04 .
For 2004/05 the official revenue Return-On-Investment for Visit London’s marketing activities for tourism specifically was 25:1. This meant £317 million of additional economic benefit to London from Visit London’s investment.
Results: Econometric Models
Visit London recognised that these measures did not fully evaluate the true return on their marketing investment and so commissioned OMD Metrics to build econometric models of visitor numbers from two key regions: Western Europe and North America.
A wide variety of data was collated for the models including travel trends, competitor marketing activity, significant events, economic factors, London visitor measures and a complete set of media data for Visit London by country.
The models were robust, explained the variation in visitor numbers over time to a high degree of accuracy and showed that an additional 360,000 visitors came to
London from Western Europe as a result of Visit London spending £2.8 million and an additional 213,000 visitors from North America as a result of a £6.3 million spend. So total revenue generated per pound can be calculated at £41.92 for visitors from Western Europe and £30.31 for visitors from North America.
These results do not allow for the cost of goods and services purchased: a very conservative 25 per cent margin on visitors’ purchases would give a true profit ROI of £7.58 per pound spent for US visitors and £10.48 per pound for visitors from Western Europe.
Visit London – a continuing success
The importance of tourism’s contribution to London’s economy is colossal and the investment by Visit London in an integrated marketing programme has been effective in reversing London’s decline as a destination and brought significant returns, with a forecast £268 million in additional economic benefit for London in 2006.
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