2018 Marketing Campaign To Get Underway

In 2018, we’re all going on an Isle of Wight Bear Hunt!

750,000 family households and couples across the Midlands and in the South of England will be invited to visit the Isle of Wight this year in a brand-new VisitIOW advertising campaign starting on Boxing Day.

Visit Isle of Wight has unveiled its marketing plans for 2018 following consultation with levy payers last October and a complete analysis of the 2017 season.

In a departure from previous years, 2018 campaigns will begin much earlier; on Boxing Day 2017. During the ‘Twimas’ period over three quarters of a million households on the mainland will receive a holiday postcard through their letter box, inviting them to take a holiday on the Island.

Backed up by a social media and digital advertising campaign, a further 250,000 emails will invite families to celebrate 175 years of family adventures on the Island in 2018, including the opportunity to take part in a unique ‘Isle of Wight Bear Hunt’. This is part of a new promotional tie up with Walker Books based on the based on the original children’s book ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ and as seen on Channel 4 on Boxing Day last year, and to be screened on Christmas Day on E4 this year.

David Thornton explains:

“We have been working with Walker Books and Bear Hunt products for the last six months to create a new promotion aimed at attracting families back to the Island in 2018. The movie will once again be shown on national TV over Christmas, and as families are gathered together discussing their holiday plans, we’ll be reaching them, in their own homes, to remind them just how fantastic the Isle of Wight is.”

In total Visit Isle of Wight estimate that over 6.5million people will receive a message from the Island in the first wave of advertising between Boxing Day and the 5th of January 2018.

#The Year of Family Adventures has been created to coincide with the 175th anniversary of Blackgang Chine. Owners Vectis Ventures are preparing a number of special events and celebrations to mark the occasion, which will also feature in the year long tourist board campaign.

Abi Fox (VisitIOW’s marketing manager) has played in leading role in putting the campaign together, which has received the blessing of Helen Oxenbury, the original illustrator of the Bear Hunt books. Abi said:

“We will be creating a new Bear Hunt adventure guide, highlighting similarities between the locations in the story and places on the Island. Also, official Bear Hunt adventure weekends will take place on popular sites around the Island, and we are in discussion with the Isle of Wight Literary Festival organisers in the hope that we can build on their success with a grand finale at next year’s festival in October.”

The campaign aims to rejuvenate the appeal of the Island for families of all ages, but especially mums and dads with toddlers, who don’t have to take holidays during school holiday periods.

Other campaign plans announced include activities to highlight the Island’s festival products across the year, off the back of the forthcoming anniversary of the original Isle of Wight festival, and further work to develop and market the wellness and luxury break products that the island has seen considerable growth in over the last few years.

The tourism organisation is also launching a campaign aimed at promoting attractions, accommodation and hospitality facilities to potential visitors with a range of abilities and is working with Isle Access and the national Tourism for All organisation to showcase the Island and it’s tourism providers.

Visit IOW are also gearing up to release new packages and holiday products into the overseas market, working with Visit Britain to develop new trade arrangements with travel wholesalers and agents in markets as far afield as Australia, as well as closer to home in Germany and the Netherlands.

The recent Visit Isle of Wight sponsored Guide to The Isle of Wight For Groups is now in the hands of over 3,000 UK coach operator running programmes next year, as well as 3000 hand-picked group travel organisers. Drive Less See More initiatives continue, promoting the Island as a great destination to visit for walking or cycling. Through the sustainable travel project, the campaign includes specific targeted marketing to encourage visitors to visit without their car and see the island in a greener way.

The tourist board has also confirmed support for the 2018 Exhibitions programme, which will see the Island promoted at large scale consumer and trade exhibitions on the UK mainland and featured at overseas exhibitions too.

With sponsorship recently secured for the 2018 Isle of Wight Walking Festival, £47,000 will also be committed to maximising the benefits of festivals for the island’s tourism economy.

David Thornton confirmed:

“We are focussing on festivals outside of the peak season, and working with those that have the potential to encourage festival goers to arrive a few days earlier, or stay a few days longer. We will be supporting the UK’s Pride Festival, Festival of Running, and the second Comicon festival, which was a huge success this November.”

Recent Tourism South East statistics revealed that between April and September one in five of all visitors to the Island had never been before, attracting an estimated 300,000 new visitors to the Island. Nevertheless the number of returning visitors fell during the summer school holidays.

Chairman of Visit Isle of Wight, SImon Dabell, said:

“We need to work harder to keep families coming back, and that’s one of the primary aims of these new campaigns. The upsurge in new visitors is terrific, but we also have to make sure that in a very competitive market place our messages are always on show, and that we can’t just take regular repeating visitors for granted.”

Other initiatives announced this week include familiarisation trips for The UK Guild of Travel Writers in February and plans to attract Cruise line and travel operators in May. There are also plans to turn the Newport Visitor Centre into the world’s only Bear Hunt Shop and Information Centre to coincide with the launch of the Isle of Wight Bear Hunts next March.