Africa Travel Week
voucher system

COVID-19 case study: Tourism marketing rebounds with sell-out voucher campaign

2020 looked to be the start of a new decade where tourism would grow exponentially and the industry as a whole would have one of its best years yet, however, nature and COVID-19 had other plans.

While we could create, strategise, and put our tried-and-tested tourism marketing methods and skills to effective use and plan for the future, nothing could have prepared us for what lay ahead. Luckily, we found opportunity and a space to test new ideas and push the creative and innovation boundaries.

We took something as simple as selling vouchers and turned it into a huge post-lockdown success story for our client, Mount High Luxury Country House, which is based in Mpumulanga, South Africa.

The challenge:

A tourism marketing campaign to sell accommodation vouchers which can only be redeemed post-lockdown during COVID-19.

We knew that people needed something to look forward to and dream about during lockdown, even though they had little money to spare on luxuries. We also understood that our clients needed to generate an income during a time when they couldn’t take bookings. The answer was simple; we needed to launch a voucher campaign accessible to Mount High’s audience while also profitable to the brand.

The result: 47 vouchers sold in just 13 minutes

We utilised Mount High’s already active following, while also targeting potential new followers, selling 47 vouchers in just 8 minutes. This campaign not only helped generate income, but it also solved the problem of low mid-week occupancy at Mount High’s two lodges as the vouchers were redeemable against mid-week stays.

Below is a breakdown of the success of the campaign:
  • 47 vouchers sold.
  • Email database grew by 750 in 3 days
  • 450 New page likes on Facebook
  • 423 New followers on Instagram
  • 2, 453 Link clicks in June 2020
  • 74, 973 Post engagement

While this campaign worked for Mount High Luxury Country House, it could suit your brand’s needs with our 5-Point Plan.

Voucher Campaign 5-Point Plan

1. Value-Offering

The best voucher offerings are the ones which give consumers the most value for money – discounts. No longer are consumers wanting a free picnic basket or bottle of wine, they’re looking for an actual discount on the accommodation. This is especially true in a time where disposable income is minimal.

Mount High offered 70%, 75% and 80% discounts on a set number of nights’ accommodation at both their Nyala House and Manor House. This meant that only one night was paid for and the rest completely free.

2. Limit Vouchers Available

While the discounts were impressive, the limited aspect of them also drew consumers in and evoked a sense of urgency and exclusivity. We recommend that if you have a set number of vouchers you want to sell, you explicitly state that it in your offering to add more hype.

3. Timing

Timing ensured the success of Mount High’s voucher campaign. The COVID-19 challenge meant that we had to launch the campaign once there was more clarity on lockdown restrictions lifting so that people could look forward to a stay sooner rather than later.

Here are other timing considerations we implemented.

  • Launch on a Saturday
    Launching on a Saturday meant that consumers could be completely focused on the voucher offering and not share their attention with work commitments or other activities. We launched at 08:00 so that consumers could purchase first thing in the morning and then get on with their lives.
  • Leverage a specific day
    The Mount High voucher offer leveraged Father’s Day to build a narrative and give context as to why it was essential to purchase a voucher now. We recommend using specific days or trending topics that are celebrated by your audience to get traction in the lead to your voucher launch.
  • The week before
    We notified Mount High’s followers about the voucher offer a week in advance. This allowed them to consider the offer so that by Saturday they had already made their decision and wasted no time in purchasing a voucher.
  • Start engagement and brand awareness one month prior
    In the month leading up to the campaign, we launched a lead generation campaign to drive sign-ups to our emailers and increase Mount High’s reach with the voucher. We used the discount offer as the incentive to get people to sign up. The engagement campaign also allowed us to build up traction and get people dreaming about a stay at Mount High.
4. User-Experience
  • Optimisation
    Mount High’s website was optimised for both mobile and desktops. While most of our audience engaged with posts on their mobile devices when it came to paying, they chose to use their desktop. Be sure to check that your website is optimised for both and can handle the increased traffic.
  • Emailer & Voucher design
    We sent out a well-designed emailer via Mailchimp with all the voucher offers details and Ts & Cs which were laid out in a visually appealing way. The copy was clear and persuasive, and the images reflected the very best of what Mount High has to offer. We also created vouchers which included all information about the accommodation, and these were sent out once the payment was received. View Voucher Designs here.
  • Pay Fast
  • We had an effective payment solution set up as consumers want a simple, trusted payment option that doesn’t require them to do too much. We’d recommend using Pay Fast, however, please note that it can take between 2 to 3 weeks to set everything up.
  • Community Experience
    We used Instagram’s story features to build up the hype by including the 24-hour countdown feature and announcing when the vouchers sold out in real-time. We made guests feel heard and valued by engaging with them on Mount High’s social channels before and after the campaign ended.
5. Targeting

Mount High already had a large and active following, which meant that there was longer-term mindshare, and consumers trusted and loved the brand. If your brand does not have a large following, then we’d recommend increasing your budget so that you can grow and reach the right audience for your brand first.

Tourism bounces back

While this certainly isn’t an ideal time for tourism and travel, we’re hopeful for the future, and we’re constantly looking for ways to help the industry bounce back and overcome the effects of this pandemic. it is important to stay relevant for your market and to stay top of mind with your potential guests. Even if you implement only some of the suggested ideas presented here, it will assist you in bouncing back more effectively when the tide has turned.

Lizanne du Plessis

​Lizanne founded Eco Africa Digital so that she could live out her two passions – ecotourism and online marketing. Her team has helped numerous tourism businesses grow their online presence, increase their bookings and expand their international appeal. With an MA degree in Environmental Ethics from Stellenbosch University, a BA in Knowledge Management, Digital Marketing diploma from Red & Yellow Creative School of Business and 9 years’ experience in the tourism marketing industry, Lizanne and Eco Africa Digital is on a mission to help tourism businesses in Africa grow.