SS Great Britain’s ‘scent-sational voyage’

If, like me, you’ve been to the SS Great Britain in Bristol, you’ll likely remember the ship’s staged living quarters with ‘real life’ smells. I’ve always found the human element of what life would have been on the ship to be the most interesting part of this tourist attraction – despite Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s obviously brilliant engineering feat in building the world’s first ocean liner.

The campaign

For a limited period during April 2022, the visitor attraction is inviting people to step aboard for a ‘scent-sational voyage’. The SS Great Britain team have delved into the ship’s archive and used passenger diaries and letters to develop more real life stories and smells. So that visitors can sample the good, the bad and the ugly odours which wafted through the ship during her time at sea.

SS Great Britain's 'scent-sational voyage'

Why this works

🚢 Immersive experience: Visitors are literally able to step into the shoes and imagine what life would have been like for people on board, through the many scents and odours – like the reek of dirty laundry or the mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked bread. SS Great Britain has created real-life stories to help visitors to understand and literally feel the atmospheres and conditions of the past.

🚢 Interactive element: Visitors are invited to rate the smells – what they like, dislike and why – and help to choose new ones, making for a fun and memorable visit.

🚢 Easter campaign: The ‘scent-sational voyage’ is only available to experience from 9-24 April 2022. This creates urgency and call to action message of ‘plan your visit now, don’t miss out….’ and will appeal to families and other visitors who are looking for something new to experience in the city.

🚢 Specific audience: In looking at the various marketing and comms, photographs of children heavily feature. The photos of children exploring the ship’s cabins, with boy holding his nose in disgust at the stinky smells are delightfully eye-catching, and will appeal to parents looking for places to take their children over the Easter holiday. 

🚢 Local advertising: I first saw the ‘scent-sational voyage’ advertised in the Kingswood Voice publication (as pictured above) – a free local news publication delivered through my door. The quirky advertising feature, whereby readers are invited to ‘sniff out some holiday fun’, is likely to attract new local residents – or ones that haven’t visited for a long time, giving a boost to visitor footfall numbers.

💕 Also love: When clicking through to purchase a ticket on SS Great Britain’s website, instead of the usual ‘adult’ or ‘child’ options, you’re presented with a ‘passenger’ or ‘child passenger’ ticket. It’s clever how the language of taking a voyage is being applied across the whole booking experience.

Learnable moment

How can you and your clients reframe or refresh an existing element of what you do to create a new campaign or experience? 

Want to hear more on visitor attractions in the West of England?

Listen to the Elves of the Visitor Economy podcast for inspirational stories from people working in the visitor economy, which I produce with fellow freelance marketer Kelly Ballard.