Harbour Hotels Christmas Campaign 2019

It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas. That’s certainly our stance at The Escape where we’re not only an agency full of festive fanatics, but we’re also a firm believer in thinking through and planning campaigns properly - especially at Christmas, when the need to stand out becomes even stronger. 

It comes as little surprise, therefore, that back in August 2019, we sparked the Christmas conversation with our client, Harbour Hotels. As a renowned brand in the hospitality industry, it was key for them to have a plan in place for the festive season and we wanted to get that ball rolling for them in good time. 

We’d launched the new Harbour Hotels website the previous month and were aware from previous website Discovery sessions that vouchers were an effective source of income for the business – voucher and experience sales in the lead up to Christmas in 2018 had resulted in approximately £300,000 of revenue. So, based on this insight, we proactively got to work with concept development, encouraging our client team to start thinking about a Christmas campaign and how we could help them get ahead at this competitive time of year. 

The initial brainstorming phase yielded a number of approaches which we scamped up to present alongside a top line communications strategy for the duration of the festive season. We love illustration and find it a really valuable step in the concept development process – it also proves to be useful with clients, who appreciate the skill of it as well as the ability to visualise a concept in its raw form. The creative routes were well received by the client, who was immediately on board with our recommendation to put Harbour gift vouchers and experiences at the heart of the campaign – the beauty of them being that they are instant income with the possibility that they won’t be redeemed in the short term (or ever!).  

Excited by the concepts and the idea of generating additional revenue, the Harbour team commissioned us to work with them on their Christmas campaign; we were set the objective to achieve £500,000 in sales in the period from Black Friday through to Christmas Day – a £200,000 increase on sales figures from the previous year. It was going to be a challenge, but one to which we felt we could rise with a smart concept, strong creative and a joined-up promotion strategy supported by regular activity and effective messaging. 

After revisiting some of the initially proposed concepts, as well as generating some additional ideas, we presented a range of creative routes which all ranged in style, tone and message. The selected concept was ‘Think Outside the Box’ – the idea that a Harbour experience cannot fit in a standard gift box and that it’s so much more than a box under the tree. The creative look and feel was based on the gift voucher experience being represented visually, bursting out of the box with graphical devices that were in keeping with the interiors and brand styling of the Harbour hotel environments.

Campaign activity comprised content creation for strategic social media posts, pull-up banners for hotel receptions and corridors, in-room tent cards, posters for lifts and flyers for general spaces at the hotels. 

A key message definition plan played a strong role in supporting the campaign, with copy crafted specifically for different phases of the festive period in the lead up to Christmas and beyond into the ‘limbo’ period when gift purchases continue to be made. By Christmas Eve, we were £27,000 short of target. Thanks to last minute shoppers, a final push from hotel staff, and messaging aimed at reminding people that they could still buy vouchers after Christmas Day itself, we achieved the ambitious £500k milestone by midnight on 25th December – with sales continuing to come in thereafter. 

This is a project we’re really proud of – not only because the campaign activity can be tangibly linked to reaching the huge revenue target and delivering ROI, but also because we love creating concepts for clients and bringing them to life in the live environment. We all know what a competitive time of year Christmas is for brands, so getting a head start to produce some clever-thinking concepts, impactful creative and a strong strategic campaign will certainly help to reap the benefits.


So, to repeat a previous comment – it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas!

Let us know if you’d like some creative and strategic thinking for your festive campaign this year. 

Get in touch with our team!

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