Direct Ferries: leading the travel news agenda during covid
Find out how Lemongrass raised awareness and landed top-tier coverage for the world’s leading ferry OTA, Direct Ferries, during the pandemic.
Direct Ferries is the world’s leading platform for ferry bookings – aggregating the best prices and most popular routes from major operators (including P&O, Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries), all on one website.
Like so many travel companies navigating the pandemic, Direct Ferries needed a way to get back out there, and lead the travel news agenda. The Lemongrass team planned and delivered a strategy that relaunched their relevance, during travel’s darkest hour.
— Coverage after initial 5 months of working together – 69 pieces, 144 brand mentions, 593.4 million reach
Getting Direct Ferries covered in broadsheets, trade press and in mainstream news drew on all of our expertise and connections, resulting in a holistic PR strategy that would make every opportunity count.
Our project goal was to raise the visibility of Direct Ferries – to establish it as the world’s largest website for ferry tickets. But we also needed to showcase its advanced booking technology, whitelabel booking engine and API – which have allowed the company to forge key global partnerships with major players like KAYAK.
The client needed relevant coverage, in target trade, national and consumer media, to drive interest and increase their web traffic.
And they needed all this to happen during the pandemic.
How we did it
Establish a UK press office and media hub
Our first step was to create a “central nervous system” of everything to do with their media output, and give press contacts a point of reference. We set up a media hub, and branded email addresses where we could collect journalists’ requests. We established a press office and media kit – to streamline the process, deliver rapid turnaround on media responses, and maximise the chances of success.
We also elected our key spokesperson at Direct Ferries, COO Niall Walsh, to become the go-to media contact and expert for ferry travel comment – more on that later.
Securing trade press coverage
Once we were set up to manage requests and contacts, we set out to hit one of our KPIs: securing coverage in travel industry media. We drafted up and announced KAYAK’s partnership with Direct Ferries to the travel trade press, landing spots in leading trade media – including Phocuswire and Travolution.
This showcased the power and desirability of their proprietary technology: Direct Ferries Connect. It’s a powerful booking platform and API that gives travel companies access to 3,800 routes and 230 ferry operators – with optimised pricing for the best returns.
Driving web traffic
At Lemongrass, we always keep an eye on Google Trends, to see what opportunities we can find to increase our clients’ visibility. A key trend emerging during the uncertainty of travel restrictions, local lockdowns, and renewed global instability was the rising demand for no-fly travel:
Interest in the concept began to rise in early 2022. As it reached a 12-month high in February, our ear to the ground in the wider news led us to believe this was just the beginning.
We still had to break into the mainstream – so we set our sights on national news outlets and broadcast media.
Sky News and radio airtime
To get national coverage and airtime for a travel brand, you’ve got to be quick; and you need an excellent spokesperson to represent the brand when the time comes. Because we’d already established key spokespeople and industry experts at Direct Ferries, we were ready to pounce when covid reared its head in the travel news once again.
Just ahead of the Christmas travel peak – the French Government announced that it was banning entry for UK travellers due to the spread of the Omicron variant. With our travel and ferry expert established – Direct Ferries COO, Niall Walsh – we issued a rapid comment in response to the breaking travel news. With one quickfire industry comment, we secured coverage in national media, and received broadcast interview requests, including a spot on Talk Radio.
Niall’s comment appeared across multiple UK and global news platforms – including Bloomberg, MSN, Sky, The Financial Times and Yahoo. When restrictions were once again lifted, we issued a further comment which appeared in The Telegraph online.
So far, our work has resulted in Direct Ferries reaching 593.4 million users, readers and listeners, through 69 pieces of online and print media coverage. We’ve tracked 144 brand mentions as a direct result of our work.
Of the total, 62 pieces and 124 brand mentions were secured during the uncertainty and evolution of covid pandemic, through the travel restrictions of late 2021.
Besides greatly increased exposure among the wider public, Direct Ferries has established itself as both an industry leader and a technological platform, through the announcement of its partnership with KAYAK – allowing the brand to flex its technological capabilities among relevant audiences in the travel press.
And by keeping a watchful eye on search engine trends, we were able to capitalise on the surge in demand for searches related to no-fly travel experiences, which has since been picked up by local news outlets in the UK and won backlinks (further aiding the website’s search engine presence).
PR for travel brands
Lemongrass Marketing specialises in PR for travel brands. We maximised every media opportunity for Direct Ferries – and we could do the same for you.