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Relaunching TCD after the collapse of the XL Leisure Group

by | Aug 22, 2014 | Press Releases

Project: Travel City Direct—A tour operator reborn

Client: Virgin Holidays/Travel City Direct

Date: January 2009

Task: Relaunch the Travel City Direct brand following its demise, when its parent company, XL, collapsed in September 2008, and its subsequent rebirth when purchased by Virgin Holidays only months later.  Achieve £200k in advertising value equivalent by August 2009, and regain its previous reputation for good value.

Implementation: Press releases, Question and Answer sheets, key messages and boilerplate messages prepared to explain the position of TCD.  Exclusive launch coverage secured with the UK’s most influential, mass market tabloids; The Sun and News of the World.  Interview secured between Travel Trade Gazette and Virgin Holidays’ Managing Director.  Media Mission to 15 London based travel editors and journalists with media kit and ‘sunshine box’ of gifts.  Group press trip (6 journalists) taken to Orlando to experience the ‘new’ TCD product.

Results: Jan—May 09; 65 articles, 90 million consumer impressions with an AVE of $345, 710 and a PR Value of over $1 million.  ROI of 33:1.

Travel Direct

Travel City Direct (TCD) was virtually a household name, representing value for money vacations for the mass market, when its parent company, XL Leisure Group, went into liquidation in September 2008, despite the brand having made profits in excess of $25 million the previous year.
The brand was purchased by Virgin Holidays and we were approached by their Head of PR in December 2008 to ask if we would take on the re-launch of the brand as part of the Virgin Holidays family.
Work began immediately to prepare for the launch on 5th January, with the preparation of press releases, Q&A sheets, key messages and boilerplate messages to explain TCD’s position.  Exclusive launch coverage was negotiated with the two most influential newspapers in the UK – the Sun and the News of the World – which both included photos, logos and the press release almost word for word.  Another exclusive interview was arranged between Amanda Wills of Virgin Holidays and The Travel Trade Gazette (TTG), to explain their strategy behind the brand’s acquisition and to assure the trade that Virgin Holidays was still firmly anchored as a trade brand, whilst TCD was their new direct sell brand.
Additionally a KBC team member personally visited 15 London-based editors and journalists to give them a “Sunshine Box” of gifts and present the new TCD brochure and information.  From the beginning of March we have issued weekly late availability and special offer press releases, which are regularly featured by the national press.  We have gained coverage for TCD in all the major annual USA and Florida round up features as well as the many “credit crunch” themed articles, focusing on TCD’s excellent value for money and very low price point.
In early March a group of six journalists was taken to Orlando for a week to experience the new TCD product, including a stay with Disney and at one of TCD’s luxury private houses.  Publications represented on the trip were Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Travel Mail, Reveal, Daily Express and the Wolverhampton Express & Star.
From launch to March 2009, coverage has appeared on BBC TV’s Working Lunch as well as every national newspaper in the UK, often on multiple occasions, together with many regional newspapers, magazines and online.
1300 enquiries were received by Travel City Direct on the launch day alone.  Editorial coverage regularly generates an uplift of 100 calls per mention.  Up to the end of May 2009, 65 articles had been generated, creating 90 million consumer impressions with an AVE of $345,710 and a PR Value of over $1million, a Return on Investment of 33 to 1.  The 10,000 passenger booking target was achieved in June 2009.