It has been 20 years since Lastminute.com launched its website at the height of the dotcom boom with the aim of bringing late holidays deals online. At the time the idea was revolutionary but in a fast moving market staying at the top of the travel industry is not easy.
Lastminute.com has managed what many of its contemporaries failed and is still going strong. But the road has not been easy, In 2014, it was sold to Bravofly Rumbo, a European online travel agent, for £76m, a fraction of the £577m US travel company Sabre paid in 2005.
It does still have strong brand awareness, with 79.5% of UK consumers aware of the brand, according to YouGov BrandIndex. That puts it sixth on a list of 35 travel brands, above rival online sites such as Booking.com but behind Expedia and Trivago.
However, it performs less well when it comes to consumer perceptions of the brand. Its Index score (which is a measure of a range of metrics including value, quality and reputation) is 8.7, which puts it eighth in the list and behind Booking.com and Expedia.
Moving to emotional marketing
In a bid to stay relevant and boost those consumer perceptions, the brand is changing its purpose from delivering cheap holidays to being the creator of “memorable experiences”. And it is launching a pan-European marketing campaign to get this message across.
Elena Galli, head of brand marketing for Lastminute.com, tells Marketing Week: “In the last two years there was a strong focus on performance marketing channels and now that the brand is much stronger and organised we are ready to take the next step with this strong brand campaign.”
The ‘Whatever makes you pink’ campaign explains that flamingos aren’t born pink but turn that colour “doing what they love most” – eating shrimp. The endline says: “What makes you feel more pink? Do more of what you love with Lastminute.com.”
The campaign is already being pushed on digital channels under the hashtag #WhateverMakesYouPink and encouraging people to reconnect with the ‘pink’ side of life. It is also making use of specially created flamingo emojis – or ‘Flamojis’ – in a campaign created by Publicis London.
A TV advert is launching in the UK, France and Italy at the beginning of March and will be supported by multichannel activations, including outdoor.
Galli says: “We have always been an iconic brand and we want to take the love for our brand to the next level with a cross-channel approach to marketing.” The importance of the campaign is also reflected in the budget which is more than it has spent on any campaign in the last few years.
Staying ahead of disruption
The travel industry is a competitive market. Alongside more traditional airlines and travel agents is a constant influx of new players from Skyscanner to Airbnb, making it difficult for established brands to remain front and centre.
Galli explains: “Holidays aren’t a fast moving good. It’s something you do once or twice a year so you need to be high in people’s mind all the time, while also keeping up with all the new people.
“We are constantly researching on our user base and on the industry as a whole. This is just part of our routine. We constantly measure our brand awareness throughout the year as well as the visitors to our website.
“There have been many changes for the business and across marketing but we don’t shy away from this and always try to change and stay on top.”