KLM Partnership Key to Marketing Efforts in Netherlands
Travel Alberta’s thriving marketing partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is raising awareness of year-round Alberta experiences and driving visitation from the Netherlands.
This winter’s promotional campaign is aimed at developing opportunities provided by new non-stop flights from Amsterdam to Edmonton, which have increased seat capacity to Alberta by 37 per cent.
There are now more than eight Dutch tour operators selling Alberta winter packages and promoting shoulder/winter season experiences.
“Our partnership with KLM is critical to our efforts in this market,” says Mito Ota, Travel Alberta’s Director of Consumer Marketing International. “We can build on their globally acclaimed brand to tell the Alberta story.”
Marketing efforts to the Netherlands are supported by an active social media strategy, including a Dutch Facebook page that has 45,000 followers, Travel Alberta’s largest fan base outside of North America.
The Power of Partnership
Travel Alberta formed its marketing partnership with KLM in 2009 when the airline began flying non-stop from Amsterdam to Calgary. In May, 2015, it began a second non-stop service with flights from Amsterdam to Edmonton.
The Dutch airline now brings over 140,000 seats into Alberta, an increase of more than five per cent from 2015. In October, 2016, it introduced the luxurious Boeing 787 Dreamliner to its Calgary route.
Air Canada, Air Transat and Icelandair, which flies Reykajavik to Edmonton direct, also offer connecting and charter flights from the Netherlands.
“KLM services over 120 connections to Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia and South America at its European hub at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam,” explains Ota. “So not only do they provide Dutch travellers with the opportunity to travel direct to our province, they also provide a gateway to other international travellers.”
The longest operating airline in the world, KLM is the national carrier of the Netherlands with service to more than 90 destinations worldwide. It is known for smart partnerships, pioneering marketing and global access through its extensive network.
“Through our partnership with them, Travel Alberta is able to significantly increase our reach,” says Mito.
Spirit of Adventure
Although the Netherlands has been slow to recover from the global economic downturn, outbound travel has been showing strong growth.
Destination Canada reported an increase of 14.4 per cent in Dutch visitors from 2015 to 2016, with over 98,000 people travelling to Canada. Statistics Canada says 32,000 people from the Netherlands visited Alberta in 2014, spending $33 million.
Ota says the typical Dutch traveller likes to connect with nature and immerse themselves in Alberta culture and local experiences. “They speak English well so they are not shy about getting off the beaten path.”
In the summer, they are among the highest number of travellers who rent RVs and take long road trips.
Promoting Alberta’s Winter Wonderland
Travel Alberta continues to focus on promoting winter, ski and urban experiences around the province. A recently launched campaign with KLM is building off its new direct flight with a focus on Edmonton and Jasper as must-visit winter destinations.
The innovative digital campaign is targeting the one million Dutch ski enthusiasts who typically winter in the Alps but may be looking for a new ski destination. Using the newly launched travelalberta.com/nl site, it is showing them how easy it is to connect with Albertans and experience a winter holiday like a local.
“We’re emphasizing Alberta’s extra long ski season, our feather-light powder, our wide-open blue skies and sunny days,” says Heather Szpecht, Travel Alberta Manager, Consumer International.
Up Close and Personal
Travel Alberta’s social media strategy is focused on the Dutch traveller’s appetite to connect with residents and get the inside story.
Through Facebook and other channels, they are offered tips on where to catch fresh powder, the best places for ice-walking, the scoop on dog-sled tours, and more.
As part of on-going efforts to bring Dutch media and social influencers to the province, Travel Alberta this fall hosted a radio host and YouTube influencer from Amsterdam.
She filmed experiences at Edmonton bars, clubs and restaurants and visited bison at Elk Island National Park. She’s scheduled to return to Jasper later this winter.
Tour Operators and Conferences
On November 3-4, 2016, Travel Alberta attended the annual USA-Canada Experience The Netherlands trade show, meeting with key tour operators who sell Alberta travel packages.
Szpecht presented to 95 travel agents from across the Netherlands, helping them increase their understanding of, and familiarity with, Alberta tourism experiences.
Travel Alberta’s new Dutch Travel Planners were distributed at the show.
“Participation was up this year from last year when about 65 tour operators attended,” says Szpecht. “They are very open to our message about Alberta as a four-season destination.”
Travel Alberta’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) team
has been building contacts in the Netherlands over the last two years through European tradeshows such as IMEX and IBTM, and conducting sales missions to target strategic incentive accounts and international associations.
There is strong interest from Dutch financial institutions for incentive trips to Alberta, as well as associations such as The International Financial Cryptography Association and the International Society of City and Regional Planners.
Increased MICE interest in Alberta has resulted from the addition of more direct air service as well as from the province’s reputation as a safe, friendly and diverse meetings destination.
To learn more, visit the market profile on the Netherlands.