Finding the Fun in Travel Marketing: Aiming for the Sleigh Factor

Ho Ho Ho and Happy Holidays to all you wonderful winter people! As the weather gets colder, our DMO clients marketing starts to focus on one big winter holiday that takes over department stores, classrooms, offices, and websites. It’s festive, beautiful, and usually involves family, presents, and gratitude. That’s right, we’re talking about the big one… Boxing Day!

Kidding! Of course we’re talking about CHRISTMAS. Around mid-November, the team at Bound gets to experience first hand the holiday traditions that take over cities, states, and CVBs (we even named a few of our favorites in this blog post). Marketing winter and holiday events is merry and joyful and helps us feel fully prepared for the Christmas season.

But, it also got us thinking about some other Christmas-focused destinations that may be more difficult to market because of the variety of visitors or the difficulty in reaching the location. So, as a continuation of our multi-part series of ‘personalized marketing for fictional* destinations,’ we’re adding another famous place to our list:

THE NORTH POLE 

Because while it may be easy to get humans to visit Santa’s factory, it’s going to take some very different marketing approaches to convince the Elves to visit the winter wonderland way up North. And what better way to market to different Christmas personas than with a little bit of persona based personalization!

DESTINATION BACKGROUND: 

Let’s start with a  little background information about the North Pole as a destination. As a disclaimer, based on my intensive research I do not think you can actually reach the North Pole because 1) it’s constantly moving and shifting around like a wobbly top hat on the globe, 2) it’s frozen, and 3) Santa’s put a magic spell on it making it impossible for humans to see or visit. But, according to legends, songs, and popular films, it’s a beautiful place that’s constantly doused in Christmas cheer. It’s snowy and cold but everyone seems genuinely pleased to be there. And most importantly, it’s where Santa has chosen to set up shop literally and figuratively. He has, as of a few hundred years ago, moved his workshop and home to the North Pole, making it the capital of Christmas and arguably, where all Christmas magic begins. 

There are three main groups of personas that would be highly interested in learning what is going on and what makes the North Pole an exciting destination, but all three would want to explore for very different reasons. First, I’ll describe each of these personas, then I’ll provide the DOs and DONTs for targeting them so that we can understand how in the jingle bells the North Pole could become the most visited Christmas destination, with the right personalization strategy.

PERSONA SEGMENT: SANTA
(AKA Business Travellers)

For the sake of your childhood wonder, I hope that you have a vague idea of the man that is Santa Claus. But if not, I’ll give you a few bullet points about the legendary Kris Kringle. He’s a jolly older gentleman who exclusively wears a red fur suit, keeps a list of good and bad children, and delivers presents on Christmas Eve. His job entails sneaking into our houses after we’ve gone to sleep, leaving us presents, and taking whatever sweet treats we leave out for him (I think his preference is oatmeal cookies). He also runs a very busy workshop that creates toys and that workshop is headquartered in the North Pole. 

DOS:

If the North Pole set up personalization for Santa, it’s important to understand that Santa is not a businessman. He’s a business,* man. His work is very important to him and he has essentially created a Christmas empire. So, thinking business first, he wants what is best for him, his company, and his employees. When targeting Santa, be sure to note that the North Pole is actually outside the confines of any one country. That’s right, according to a quick google search, the North Pole is technically floating in international waters somewhere. That means no taxes which is a brilliant financing ploy to convince the big man in red!  Plus, for a workplace that emphasizes warm beverages and cozy stockings, the temperature is ideal for Santa, elves, and reindeer alike. 

If personalizing to Santa Clause, emphasize the cold weather, availability of workers, and the fact that his business gets to exist in a much more frigid version of the Wild West. No laws, no taxes, anything goes! 

*Note: Santa’s workshop may be a non-profit. I don’t really know. 

DO NOTS: 

While the North Pole is a wonderful place for business, it’s not all candy canes and mistletoe. There are things about living in the North Pole that could turn anyone into a Grinch. For instance, if targeting Santa or any business, the North Pole should absolutely NOT mention the commute to work. Santa has a limited amount of time to get to the “office” (what I’m assuming he calls our living rooms). Do not emphasize that he’ll need to travel thousands of miles to his first stop or that it will be thousands of miles to his next stop after that, or his next one, or his next one. Also, maybe don’t mention that there’s no movie theatre, no restaurants, no grocery stores, or really anything in the North Pole. We don’t need Santa trying to make any kind of big move. 

PERSONA SEGMENT: ELVES
(AKA the locals)

The next persona group is the Elves! Elves are typically thought of exclusively as ‘Santa’s Helpers’ but they are so much more than that! They’re tiny little creatures that love to sing, dance, and yes, they usually work in Santa’s workshop building toys or taking care of his reindeer. They enjoy standard winter activities like snowball fights, eating candy, and spending time with family.

DOS: 

If movies like Elf are to be believed, the Christmas elves are a tight knit community. They love Christmas but they also love spending time together. If you’re personalizing your content to Elves you’ll want to emphasize the more social aspects of the North Pole. Push events and things to do around town. Show off the Elf community, the plethora of syrup, and the availability of snowman building supplies. 

DO NOTS: 

Santa’s elves are an interesting persona group because traditional “North Pole” messaging will not work on them. Do you think the city you live in would entice other travelers to visit by posting pictures of your workspace? Definitely not! So naturally, targeting should not use pictures of Santa’s Workshop to entice Elves to come visit the North Pole. And in that line of thinking, do you think they want to see pictures of their boss everywhere? No matter how much they love the jolly guy, it’s probably tough to be bombarded with images of the person you work for. 

PERSONA SEGMENT: HUMANS
(AKA the tourists)

And lastly, let’s talk about marketing towards humans. Hopefully I don’t need to get too far into what a human persona group looks like because if you are reading this you should be quite familiar. But, generally humans enjoy the holiday season, a few Scrooge-y humans notwithstanding. We have fragile human skin which does feel cold. And for the most part, we like presents. 

DOS: 

Do I need to break down the reasons humans would go to the North Pole? It’s the same reason travelers might want to go to the Dr. Pepper facilities in Dublin, TX or the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, CA. We want to see a glimpse behind the scenes of what it takes to pull off the best holiday of the year! Is it chaotic or well organized? Is Santa kind to his elves or is his managerial style more stern? How do they train the reindeer for their big night?I want to know it all! And it is literally the only attraction that could convince me to travel to a place that requires 4-5 parkas to still feel cold. 

So, North Pole’s Marketing team, if you’re reading: lay it on thick with the Christmas content when speaking to us regular ol’ humans. We like Christmas. We like presents. We like the idea of everyone wearing a standard fur trimmed uniform to work! Show us the North Pole’s Christmas!

DO NOTS: 

Did I mention the weather in the North Pole? It’s colder than a Polar Bear’s toenails up there. Living in central Texas I sometimes forget that the thermostat drops below 30  degrees Fahrenheit in most places. If marketing to humans my advice would be to leave out the fact that it gets to be -40 degrees Fahrenheit in winter (THIS IS TRUE! I JUST LOOKED THIS UP! THAT’S VERY COLD). 

And there you have it! A perfect way to personalize North Pole messaging to the different marketing personas that would most likely visit. Did we convince you to make the North Pole next year’s winter vacation? 

Happy holidays from our happy work family to yours – see you in 2020!