“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin
That nice man from Monty Python first went around the world in 80 days in 1989, and brought the intoxication of international travel and discovery straight to our sofas. With little need for encouragement, and as accessibility to new destinations improved, the Irish public was becoming increasingly attracted to getting on a plane in order to get away from it all. Therefore, throughout the Noughties, trips abroad were growing at a significantly faster rate than home holidays.
As the body responsible for the development of the domestic tourism industry, Fáilte Ireland needed to take action to protect this sector that was hugely important in the national economy. Tourism accounts for 4% of our GDP, the tourism/ hospitality sector accounts for more than 7% of total employment and Irish people spent over €938 billion on home holidays in 2015 alone. (Source: CSO)
Fáilte Ireland needed to find an antidote to combat the foreign travel bug and so they looked for help. After media and advertising pitches, DDFH&B and PHD were awarded the Fáilte Ireland account in December 2006, and tasked with addressing their market share decline. And so began our 9-year journey with the brand. It was a journey with different stages and twists (see figure 1). We started by asking ourselves, “How do we sell ice to Eskimos?” and by the end, those same Eskimos couldn’t get enough of sharing their myriad of ice stories with us.
Over the 9 years, the airlines shouted more loudly, reduced their prices and opened up new routes of travel to tempt holidaymakers abroad. The economic downturn decimated domestic disposable income and non-essential purchases were abandoned for a time. The weather Gods joined in on the cutbacks, with unbroken summer sunshine but a hazy memory for many. Despite all this and through all this, advertising convinced more Irish people to holiday at home, year after year after year.