Singapore is pushing towards a life with COVID-19 as an endemic, opening up vaccinated travel lanes to Germany and Brunei. Transport minister S. Iswaran also said last week that Singapore is "actively working to expand" the vaccinated travel lane, The Straits Times reported. At the same time, ST also reported that Singapore and Malaysia are in talks to reopen borders.
As borders progressively reopen and as part of its 2022 marketing plan, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will launch localised, market-specific SingapoReimagine campaigns to better cater to market nuances highlighting reimagined offerings in the areas of safety, technology, experiences and sustainability. In an interview with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Lynette Pang, STB’s assistant chief executive (marketing group) (pictured below), said that the campaigns will be done in collaboration with key in-market media and trade partners, as well as prominent and popular influencers, to drive anticipation for travel to Singapore.
Pang cited the SingapoReimagine campaign in Germany, which will kickstart with a series of media and influencers familiarisation trips, to showcase how Singapore has reimagined itself as a destination in the areas of safety, technology, experiences and sustainability. The campaign will also drive consideration and visit to Singapore through promotional initiatives with key German tour operators and online travel agents.
In addition, STB will partner with international media titles - such as the Financial Times, VICE and BuzzFeed - to roll out a series of stories and content to drive awareness of Singapore in global markets; leveraging its partners’ networks for more reach and their network of key influencers for authentic storytelling.
This is a continuation of STB’s current efforts to increase Singapore’s mindshare despite restrictions in international travel. The efforts included sharing authentic stories and reimagined experiences through specially-mounted campaigns, STB’s owned channels as well as through innovative marketing partnerships to retain destination recall and shape and influence travel to Singapore when travel resumes.
In March this year, for example, STB worked with creative agency TBWA\Chiat\Day NY to virtually open its doors for Americans to explore the country via livestream taxi tours on Twitch: Singapore by Stream. Streamers were taken on a ride across Singapore under the guide of a taxi driver to experience the country’s landmarks and hidden gems.
Others included leveraging Ultraman’s brand power in Japan, taking Indian family audiences on a virtual adventure in Singapore with animated series Chhota Bheem, and delivering the Singapore experience through the virtual Singapore Food Festival.
Impact of pandemic on STB’s marketing plans
These marketing efforts certainly did not happen overnight and like many companies, the pandemic forced STB to be resilient and agile. “Over the past 18 months, STB had to start from scratch and rethink its marketing plans, while pivoting to domestic marketing and keeping its international audiences warm. The pandemic also gave the brand no choice but to strategise and execute on the fly,” Pang explained.
Prioritising speed over accuracy, STB developed a framework that was clear enough with sufficient guardrails that allowed for flexibility and agility during the refinement process. This way, it could launch beta versions of activities or campaigns, and then refine it along the way.
More importantly, STB ensured that its efforts reflected agile, bold and creative marketing through new formats, concepts and partnerships. Pang explained that its messaging, for example, was tied to phases in Singapore and in various markets, such as lockdown, recovering or reopening. When it came to the type of content, STB knew it had to entertain while educating on hygiene and safety aspects. At the same time, it also doubled down on digital "in a big way", Pang said, as the amount of content on various social platforms produced by STB doubled. It also entered into partnerships that pushed STB to innovate and allowed it to build a solid pipeline for future demand.
Examples include a recent partnership with ClassPass, weekend virtual rave Zouk Phuturescapes, music videos done together with Bandwagon and DJ-producer MYRNE featuring drone views of Singapore, iQIYI on webtoons in South Korea, as well as Studio Dragon in South Korea for future Korean dramas to be shot in Singapore.
Meanwhile, the pivot to domestic marketing saw STB, Sentosa Development Corporation and Enterprise Singapore setting aside SG$45 million for the SingpoRediscovers campaign last year. This was the largest campaign introduced in Singapore to drive local demand, supports local lifestyle and tourism business. It also launched the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers scheme last December offering Singaporeans with SG$100 worth of tourism credits and rolled out Made With Passion, a national marketing movement that celebrates local lifestyle brands and their unique stories. More than 60 brands were recently added to the list.
More recently, the 28th edition of the Singapore Food Festival went hybrid for the first time and doubled in scale, as STB invited local and international foodies to dive into Singapore’s rich culinary landscape and rediscover the love for food. Moreover, SFF was a testament to the innovation in Singapore’s culinary scene and its reputation as a global culinary capital.
Pang added that beyond STB’s proprietary marketing campaigns, it also injected significant funds into its SG$20 million Marketing Partnership Programme (MPP) and SG Stories Content Fund to help local partners and stakeholders amplify their brands globally. The MPP was launched to support the marketing initiatives of hotels, attractions, inbound travel agents and the MICE sector in Singapore – it has supported over 300 establishments to date. Meanwhile, the SG Stories Content Fund supports content creators such as tourism enterprises, content creators and individuals in the development of stories. The first season of SG Stories Content Fund, which was launched in April 2020 with a funding pool of SG$2.5 million and the second season was launched in May this year.
Three types of travellers and how to target them
STB also recently unveiled a report titled “Understanding the new traveller” which showcased three types of traveller profiles - Wander Must, Mindful Explorer, and Slow Pacer.
1. The Wander Must: Early adopters of technology and digital experiences who are ready to rediscover the joys of travelling;
2. The Mindful Explorer: Nature and outdoor lovers who are conscious of the fragility of our systems, likely to make sustainable choices, and seek meaningful connections with the local environment and its people; and
3. The Slow Pacer: Travellers who place great importance on recharging, and seek wellness destinations to enhance their physical, emotional and mental well-being, to become better versions of themselves.
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This report was launched during the recent SingapoReimagine Global Conversations forum series, which is part of STB’s international industry engagement efforts. According to the report, businesses can incorporate immersive virtual spaces, such as the metaverse, to target the Wander Must, and experiment with new communication and commerce opportunities. To target the Mindful Explorer, Pang added that businesses can promote their locally owned status and deepen their engagements with the local community to deliver more hyper-localised experiences. Lastly, to target the Slow Pacer, businesses can offer products and services that respond to the physiological and emotional life stages of customers for a more well-rounded mindful experience sensitive to one’s well-being.
To fulfil these needs, companies would require a set of distinct messaging and experiences for each of these profiles, and would need to create innovative products and services that resonate with their customer base.
Pang also explained that to instill confidence in their customers, safety should be highlighted as a core part of a company’s value proposition - communicating hygiene and safety as part of the brand messaging, will not only reassure consumers, but also differentiate their offerings from competitors.
Moving forward, Pang is excited about trends such as NFT, hyper-personalisation, sustainability, and the creator economy. “It will be interesting to see how NFTs will pan out in the tourism space as it has already gained traction in the art and creative industries,” she said.
She added that sustainability is no longer a “value add” but a “must have” as consumers become increasingly aware of the impact of their consumption. “Meanwhile, the creator economy, has encouraged destinations to rethink their advertising models to ensure they engage with audiences in an authentic manner,” Pang added.
Photo courtesy: 123RF
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