Jeff Potter, former CEO of Frontier Airlines and Exclusive Resorts as well as Los Angeles-based Surf Air, is putting on his entrepreneur hat and launching a new travel company – Manifest, an exclusive, chapter-based lifestyle and travel club that provides custom-crafted getaways to unique destinations within the U.S., paired with private plane service.
Indie creative agency Madwell helped bring the brand to life this summer amid pandemic with brand ID and website design. In this LA, SF and Denver market launch, Madwell crafted a hyperlocal targeted strategy including a social, paid search and media campaign that highlights each destination’s experience.
AdForum spoke with Jeff Potter and Steve Barry to find out how this new approach to luxury travel came to life.
What were the drivers behind the timing of the launch? Is Manifest’s positioning in fact advantageous in our new world of travel anxiety?
Steve Barry: We launched our campaign in August since we know that so many people are eager to get out and travel again, and what better way to do that than with a completely new way to vacation. Manifest is primed for the resurgence of travel in a post-quarantine world for multiple reasons - private air travel, smaller, safer, more exclusive groups, and perfectly curated experiences that can be tailored in these times. We believe a more all-inclusive approach to weekend trips can take away the anxiety of worrying what travel should involve these days.
Please tell us about your target audience, the media you deployed to launch and any other brand activations.
Steve Barry: In the early stages of this campaign launch, we're focused on social and digital media first, and we're targeting high net-worth individuals who are adventurous and seeking out new travel experiences. They may regularly invest in that first-class plane ticket, but seek out trip experiences on the weekends where they can take a break from their demanding careers to enjoy activities that recharge them. As a follow-up, we are also exploring exclusive invites and influencer plays with the luxury traveler audience to carry the campaign launch through the end of 2020.
The travel and hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit this year.
In the midst of massive disruption to the travel industry, launching Manifest is an incredibly brave move. What is Manifest all about?
Jeff Potter: Manifest's core value proposition includes city-based travel clubs, limited memberships, small group travel (average 6-8), travel via private air and private terminals and experiential travel close to home. These tenents were established well before the onset of COVID-19, but even more so now, these are elements of what the active adult traveler is seeking. There is a pentup demand due to the pandemic and providing a club that provides for that demand is arguably as timely now as it was at the beginning of the year.
In the UK, there has been a surge in vacation bookings for 2021. Do you think this trend will continue globally as we enter Q4 and head into next year?
Jeff Potter: We've already seen a surge in the U.S. for domestic, close to home, "off the beaten path" getaways. The international sector from the U.S. will be slower to recover as country restrictions are relaxed over the coming months. There has been a shift with many longer vacations, both domestic and international, rescheduled to 2021 so it is likely that bookings for next year show some strong signs.
Sustainability is the other critical topic this year, as we seek to safeguard our planet for future generations. Given that Manifest is all about travel, how is the brand aligning with environmental protection and best practice?
Jeff Potter: We are committed to a travel company that makes sustainability an important part of its foundation. Manifest has teamed up with CarbonFund.org in our efforts to become Carbon Neutral for our private flights through carbon offsets. Manifest purchases carbon offsets to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions from the use of aircraft for our Experiences. Manifest will invest in environmental projects aimed at balancing out greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to global warming and climate change.