We are spending significantly on films and their digital distribution: Lim Shoo Ling, STB

Singapore Tourism Board's Director, Brand (Marketing Group), Lim Shoo Ling and GB Srithar, Regional Director (SAMEA), speak to exchange4media on their focus to attract more Indian tourists

STB

To attract more tourists from India, Singapore is planning to increase its focus on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities this year. “For India, there was growth from both tier one and tier two cities, due to strong travel demand and increased flight connectivity. In particular, the cruise arrivals from India spiked to 27 % as more Indian travellers took up new cruise offerings such as Genting Dream and Royal Caribbean Cruises' Voyager of the Sea,” shares Lim Shoo Ling, Director – Brand (Marketing Group), Singapore Tourism Board and GB Srithar, Regional Director (South Asia Middle East and Africa), STB in conversation with exchange4media.  

Edited excerpts :

What are the different layers of storytelling utilized for Passion Made Possible? 

Singapore – Passion Made Possible is a brand that captures the spirit of Singapore, a place shaped by its people and their passions, and driven by their passion to constantly pursue new possibilities and reinvention. It celebrates what we stand for as a country and supports the telling of many stories about this destination and its people.

With Passion Made Possible, STB presents, for the first time, a brand that tells a fuller Singapore story beyond tourism and business. We adopted an ‘inside out’ approach, i.e. it had to resonate with the people at home first. The Singapore story is shared by everyone with a stake in its success – from everyday locals and entrepreneurs to industry stakeholders and businesses and various government agencies.

To business and leisure travellers, we want to inspire them to connect with and deepen their passions through the possibilities Singapore offers. In connecting and communicating with STB’s target audience, we looked at their lifestyles, interests, and reasons for travel to form seven “Passion Tribes”. This includes Foodies, Collectors, Explorers, Action Seekers, Culture Shapers, Socialisers and Progressors. 

Since August 2017, the brand has been rolled out through a global marketing campaign across more than 17 markets through consumer launches, trade events, industry partnerships, and global marketing campaigns featuring campaign films and visuals to bring across the deeper storytelling of our Singapore locals and the authentic experiences of Singapore, beyond our iconic offerings.

As part of bringing the brand to life, STB also continues to support the creation of tourism products and experiences, enabling the passions of travellers and tourism stakeholders to be realised through various possibilities in Singapore, such as is by curating tours and experiences that exemplify the Singapore Passion Made Possible brand and spirit, many of which are already in existence.

In India, the campaign was launched in September 2017 with a multi-pronged approach. There was a media event along with media buys (print, digital, cinema, and television).  There were partnerships with key trade partners to promote Passion Tribe experiences – Thomas Cook, Make My Trip, FCM. We initiated media partnerships which enabled us to generate content catering to the specific Passion Tribes along with KOLs from India. We undertook some interesting consumer-facing collaboration such as Paytm and Ola, which gave the Indian audience a chance to experience and sample Singapore’s diverse offerings. In the music and entertainment space, we collaborated with Vh1 India for a music video titled ‘Unstoppable’ featuring International and local artists, which was very well received garnering 4.7 million views on YouTube. There were extensive trade, media, influencer, and consumer outreach so as to promote the brand. One major initiative was the collaboration with St+artIndia and Impresario Group for the Singapore Weekender.

How important is India as a market for Singapore? How has the visitorship been in 2018? 

Singapore has always been popular with Indian tourists. In fact, in the last four years, more than a million tourists from India have visited Singapore. In 2017, Singapore received 1.27 million visitors from India with the country recording the highest growth rate of 16% among all the markets. In 2018, 1.44million Indian visitors visited Singapore with an increase of 13% as compared to the previous year.  For India, there was growth from both tier one and tier two cities, due to strong travel demand and increased flight connectivity. In particular, the cruise arrivals from India spiked to 27 % as more Indian travellers took up new cruise offerings such as Genting Dream and Royal Caribbean Cruises' Voyager of the Sea.

The Indian outbound segment has been growing steadily over the years. Economic growth, higher disposable incomes, eagerness to travel frequently, attractive and affordable holiday packages and an increase in MICE activity has contributed to the growth of the Indian outbound market.

We are noticing a significant change among Indian holiday-goers. They are more evolved, aware and discerning seeking experiential holidays. Interesting trends include a noticeable shift from an annual vacation to multiple-holidays-in-a-year. Keeping these trends in mind, Singapore has always been focusing aggressively on promoting the destination in India.  This has led to the destination becoming one of the most popular among the Indian travellers, witnessing a year-on-year growth in tourist arrivals.

What are the recent and upcoming brand and marketing initiatives planned?

One of the recent initiatives was a partnership with Ola where Ola ran a campaign on its various platforms for its users to win a trip to Singapore. In addition to the campaign, the Singapore Tourism Board’s brand of Passion Made Possible was further entrenched through the showcasing of our branded content across Ola’s platforms.  With technology redefining mobility for the Indian consumers, the Singapore Tourism Board wanted to reach out to India’s digital natives on the Ola platform through this partnership.

We are also having the second edition of Singapore Weekender in Delhi, a three-day experiential festival by Singapore Tourism Board in association with St+art India Foundation and Impresario Group. This is the second time that all the three brands (Singapore Tourism Board, St+art India Foundation and Impresario Group) have collaborated for the festival (Singapore Weekender). The first edition of Singapore Weekender took place in 2017 at Sassoon Docks in Mumbai when the Singapore Tourism Board launched the new brand campaign titled ‘Passion Made Possible’ globally. 

This time, the collaboration has been done as a part of the STB’s second phase promotions of the Passion Made Possible brand with an aim to highlight the Passion Tribes of Culture Shapers, Socialisers and Action Seekers. In pursuit of their passions, artists from Singapore will be showcasing their work at the festival and in doing so, bring a slice of Singapore to inspire and provoke audiences here to discover/ deepen their passion for art and life. Another interesting initiative which is a part of the Singapore Weekender is Atypical Singapore, an art and augmented reality (AR) technology showcase, which is an interesting initiative undertaken by Singapore Tourism Board as a part of their brand campaign ‘Passion Made Possible’. As part of the showcase, Khairuddin Hori, curatorial director and partner of Chan+Hori Contemporary, has handpicked few contemporary artists with different specializations, ranging from performance art, sculptures, painting, gif animation, video art to AR effects.

Since the launch of the Passion Made Possible brand, the STB has embarked on a series of marketing campaigns and activations to showcase Singapore’s passions and talents through storytelling and to allow visitors to connect with their passions and discover a deeper side to Singapore as a destination. Singapore Weekender is one such activation aimed at the Indian market.

STB is committed to sharpening our strategy for quality tourism. We want to tell a great authentic Singapore story, target the right fans and adopt innovative marketing practices to create richer and more immersive experiences for visitors and locals. We hope to expand our regional footprint in India with great in-market trade and non-trade partnerships.

How are tourism boards today adapting unique approaches to promote their campaigns?

Indian travellers are becoming more experiential, technologically-savvy and consequently more demanding. While visiting a destination they are not just convinced by visiting the attractions but rather they would want to experience the place and check out its varied unexplored and unique offerings. This is one thing that tourism boards across are taking note of and are trying to come up with strategies and campaigns which incorporates such new and upcoming trends. Our campaign Passion Made Possible is one such campaign which has taken an inside-out approach. It is showcasing Singapore’s passion and talents through storytelling and allowing visitors to discover a deeper side to Singapore. 

We have done some interesting collaborations and undertaken some initiatives to promote the new brand such as experiential events for the consumers– we did a consumer travel fair in Bangalore last year and also collaborated with St+art India Foundation for the Singapore Weekender where Singaporean artists came to India to showcase their works, and in doing so, bring a slice of Singapore to inspire and provoke audiences here to discover/ deepen their passion for art and life. We have also done tie-ups with major consumer brands like Ola and Paytm so as to promote our offerings to their strong user base through contests, offers, etc. Last year, we also collaborated with Vh1 India for a music video which featured international artists and also Singaporean talents. The song titled “Unstoppable” was an effort to connect with the discerning young travellers from India who are seeking immersive, local experiences. The song urges listeners and viewers to evoke their experience-and-discover spirit by pursuing and living up their passions.

How have you planned your ad spends for 2019?

We are spending significantly on films and their digital distribution. That doesn’t mean we will not focus on traditional forms of media, TV, print, radio and outdoors continue to remain an important part of the consumer mix. Moving forward, we will be focusing on PR and digital mediums to reach out to our target audiences. 

What would you say has been the biggest shift in the way Singapore is marketed as a tourist destination between now and a decade ago? What are your focal areas as we go forward?

Earlier we were promoting Singapore with more emphasis on the attractions available in the destination. We were talking about the popular attractions that one could visit, what to eat there, where to shop, etc.  In the eyes of the global stage, while Singapore’s strengths of safety and cleanliness are lauded, more people wanted to know what was different about Singapore and we realized that there was a great need to let the real Singapore story emerge and anchor what Singapore stands for. 

Our current brand identity focuses on the attitude and spirit of Singapore in telling a fuller Singapore story beyond tourism. The tagline ‘Passion Made Possible’ is consumer-focused and reflective of the universal desire to pursue passions. At a tourism level, consumers want to experience what’s local and authentic and we want to inspire visitors to connect with and deepen their passions through the possibilities Singapore offers.

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