With a history spanning more than 250 years, Cox & Kings is the world’s most enduring luxury travel brand. Born in 1758 as an India custom travel outfitter, the company today remains unwavering in its commitment to providing travelers with exquisite aspirational cultural and wildlife journeys.
With a new President for The Americas, Cox & Kings coming onboard in October 2012, the company was looking to raise its profile within the travel trade and both re-establish and forge new relationships within the industry. In the past, the company’s presence and messaging had been inconsistent, and it was important to re-establish the brand to the travel agent community. They were looking to shed the misconception of solely being an expert in India and better showcase their offerings on a global scale. The company ethos of taking an off-the-beaten-path approach, by being the first to take travelers to emerging or re-emerging destinations and to explore the untapped aspects of well- trodden traditional spots had not previously been spotlighted as a unique selling point.
The travel trade PR campaign was designed to achieve several goals.
First, the overriding purpose was to enhance recognition of the Cox & Kings brand overall within the travel agent community in an effort to gain market share from its main competitors. Another aim was to generate awareness of the expansive worldwide offerings of the company, rather than a focus on one particular area of the world, and position them as a truly “global” outfitter. To differentiate the company from its main competitors, the campaign also sought to communicate the brand’s underlying philosophy of discovery and exploration by focusing on far-flung, exotic and developing tourism areas.
The target audience for this campaign was the travel advisor community at large with a concentration on those in the industry geared toward upscale and luxury travel. The industry as a whole comprises agencies of every size, from the large consortia such as Virtuoso, to independent agents working from home.
Geographically, the target audience was national, encompassing the entire United States.
Prior to securing the account, the agency contacted major travel trade editors to conduct first-hand research on how Cox & Kings was perceived. Upon winning the account, observations were discussed with the client and carefully considered when planning the campaign.
We quickly realized there was an exceptional opportunity to re-launch the brand to the travel trade in a new light. A plan was crafted to jumpstart name recognition, turn around industry misconceptions and showcase the brand’s unique attributes in an effort to differentiate it from its competitors. A very deliberate multi-prong strategy was implemented using press releases, media alerts, one-on-one interviews with the company’s new President, targeted editorial pitches and one annual press trip to an off the beaten path locale featuring a new itinerary.
The trade campaign’s key message is that Cox & Kings is a truly global luxury travel outfitter that takes travelers to exotic locales and the exotic side of traditional destinations.
The campaign focused on the company’s philosophy and genuine passion for exploration, highlighting the luxury of being among the first to visit truly distinct destinations, enjoy immersive experiences and take an authentic approach to travel. This is strikingly different to the more conventional method of promoting the traditional concept of luxury travel, one that coddles guests with posh accommodations and amenities but keeps guests just outside a culture looking in rather than engaging in it.
With over 7,822,155 million total impressions and an advertising equivalent of $1,629,020.11 across all industry titles in both print and online, the agency’s campaign achieved a significant amount of coverage for Cox & Kings in the travel trade outlets.
There was a mix of both shorter news items as well as feature length articles with much of the coverage focusing on the unique and exotic destinations such as Columbia, Nicaragua and Ethiopia as well as new product launches such as Master Chef, US Journey’s, Australia and New Zealand, and River Cruising. Overall awareness of the brand increased as is measurable in the amount of inquiries and bookings received from Destination Managers at the US headquarters. Interest from media outlets for future coverage also expanded considerably, as Cox & Kings became a top of mind resource for travel coverage and global destinations. Editors sought out company executives and individual Destination Managers for information and quotes cited in articles, positioning them and the brand as experts. This has since created a “snowball effect” in attaining more coverage.