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Civil Aviation Authority

Empowering smarter choices amid uncertainty 

Battling the effects of a global pandemic isn’t easy for most businesses – but for the travel industry? The effects were catastrophic.

Described as the worst crisis to ever hit the aviation industry, some airlines and holiday companies even went out of business, amid thousands of cancelled flights and a global drop in demand for travel in 2020.

As things began to open up again in summer 2021, though, the team at ATOL – which gives financial protection to people who have purchased package holidays and flights through licensed operators – realised holidaymakers needed to make smart travel decisions, to protect themselves.

Here’s how they got the message out, with our help.







Laptop showing website

Reaching the right people

When the travel industry began to bounce back in 2021, ATOL and AB began to plan a campaign that would be delivered throughout the key sales period – Christmas.

Reaching millions of people, it would educate them on the importance of ATOL protection when booking a holiday, while encouraging them to start planning their adventures again, despite an ever-changing travel landscape.

After all, ATOL would give them the security they needed to book with confidence!

So, how did the team do it? By planning a robust strategy that would be key to a strong campaign. From pinning down the target audience to outlining the distribution channels, every part of the strategy needed to communicate the key message as effectively as possible.

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Outlining the strategy

Designed to capture the attention of holiday combination shoppers, this campaign covered three key areas of travel, including:

  • ATOL checkers (people actively aware of ATOL or searching to understand its meaning)
  • Package holiday bookers
  • Flight-only bookers

After this, it was about nailing the messaging and channel selection. The objectives around the messaging were fundamental to the success of the campaign: keep it simple, and generate positivity and confidence in travel.

With this in mind, our team brought the campaign to life under the simple, yet powerful, message “Find your holiday happy”.

From here, we then focused on four key digital channels, which were where shoppers were most likely to be, and whittled down from extensive audience research. They included:

  • Google Programmatic Display
  • Google Search
  • Facebook and Instagram
  • YouTube

Combined with audience targeting –the key aims being those who were most likely unaware of ATOL protection, and those likely to book with agents not covered by ATOL – we then took a deep dive into possible audiences that we could target across the UK, using CACI’s ACORN audience segmentation.

We were ready to go.

Overcoming the struggles

However, despite a robust campaign ready for launch, there was one thing we couldn’t control: Omicron.

With this new Covid-19 variant, a whole new set of challenges within the travel industry came to light – including red list countries, last-minute changes on vaccine requirements and specific countries banning tourism to try and curb the spread of Omicron.

This meant, once again, travellers were reluctant to book holidays – and our key message would no longer resonate.

The good news? Due to the strength of our audience research and the adaptability of the AB team, we were able to quickly pivot, overhauling the entire creative direction of the campaign to produce new messaging and assets with just days to spare.

With a revised creative direction, the tone of the campaign was more sensitive and sympathetic to the fast-changing conditions of the travel industry. Now, it was all about empowering consumers to make smart holiday decisions, sharing tips, encouraging them to be ‘travel savvy’ and educating them on the importance of ATOL protection and how to check for it.

Record-breaking results

While not what was originally planned, this revised campaign delivered ten-fold for the ATOL team. From this campaign, we’ve seen consumer interest in abroad holidays grow, and learned how holiday combination shoppers are taking a rising interest in extra levels of holiday protection.

And the finishing result? A record-breaking Christmas campaign that reached millions of people, educating them on the importance of ATOL protection when booking a holiday.

Other stats:

  • Shortlisted in The Drum Digital Marketing Awards 2022, in the Travel & Tourism category
  • Two published press releases, resulting in 50 pieces of media coverage
  • Search campaign targeting keywords surrounding ATOL protection generated a CTR of 25.34%
  • Average time spent on the campaign landing page rose 75% during the campaign period at 00:02:48, with over 6,000 sessions and 4,000 new users
  • A 371% uplift in page views across the website during the campaign period vs. the previous six weeks

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