Digital Advertising

Willows Activity Farm

51.7233° N, 0.2797° W


Set your mind back to June. The sun was shining and we were hoping for a hot (but not too hot) summer holiday leading to a bumper year for leisure tourism. We were also delighted to begin working with the popular Willow’s Activity Farm team ahead of the summer to help support the 6 week holidays with a lot of tickets to sell.

This award-winning family attraction based in St Albans wanted a fresh approach to their digital marketing and appointed Navigate to do just that.

The brief

Willows Activity Farm has a core market that adores their offering, and it was our job to make sure Willow’s was not only seen by their existing advocates but also reach new audiences, ensuring a clear path to purchase and deliver returns on their marketing investment. With the Cost of Living challenge front of mind and customers looking for value, the Willows team planned a dynamic multi use ticket that would drive volume and footfall, which Navigate helped get to market in time.

Willows team are no stranger to digital, and their summer strategy, together with a new Navigate approach to paid media, combined with a stunning TV advert through the highly targeted ad Adsmart network, was set to showcase their offer perfectly.

Taking over paid advertising ahead of a peak period is never going to be an easy task, but Willows trusted our paid media team to not only get them set up and ready for the summer holidays but also sell a new ticket type across media channels.


From our experience and industry research, we knew that the 2023 summer holidays would be challenging across the sector. Not only did we have to contend with the classic UK unpredictable weather, but consumer booking patterns had dramatically changed in two core ways.

1. Even though all audiences had moved to book tickets online during the pandemic, 2023 has brought with it a trend of last-minute booking or, in some cases, reverting back to turning up on the day and hoping for the best.

2. People are looking for more value in their purchasing. Where can they find the best experience for the best price? Is it a full-day offering, what’s included and where can they make their money go further.

We knew we had to evolve our digital advertising and paid media approach to combat and make use of these trends.

So here's where our thinking took us:

// One

While we set up business-as-usual advertising across paid search and social, Willows advised us they were introducing a special multi-visit offering for the summer, and we developed a specific advertising campaign to support this new ticket for the summer.

This multi-visit ticket purchase seemed like it would encourage visitors to book online due to the price and offering only being available in advance digitally.

// Two

By leading with a multi-day ticket offering, we were able to showcase extremely good value for visitors looking for multiple days out in the summer. This meant those who bought the ticket option would feel on visits two or three that they’d received such value for their money; they would be open to purchasing food on the day or products from the gift shop. Increasing secondary spend.

The team at Willows were also extremely proactive and were able to adjust the pricing and number of visits included in the offer as the summer progressed. The price and visits were reduced as we moved through the summer to reflect the amount of time people had to visit.

In turn, we worked with closely with Willows to revise the advertising plans in line with each change, which positively impacted numbers and ensured multi-ticket sales continued all summer, not just when they were best value at the start.

// Three

Alongside our paid media plan, we ensured all marketing activity worked together to complement and enhance the impact of each activity, an example was repurposing Willow’s new TV advertisement and reformatted to use on YouTube, focusing on driving new traffic and inspiring visitors through brand awareness and retargeting.

// Outcome

Now, like most attractions in the UK, the weather impacted Willows. The soggy start left our hopes of a bumper summer out to dry (or did it?). Through our targeted and agile approach, we managed to ensure that summer digital campaigns weren’t a washout.

In fact, we’re pleased to say Willows were dramatically up on targets and revenue for the year.


Up on revenue targets


Up on footfall on 2022


Up on website traffic

“Navigate held our hand from the start and we quickly formed a dynamic and rewarding working relationship.

We’re delighted with the results for our summer marketing campaign, and pleased Navigate onboarded us quick enough to ensure we delivered against our targets. Their agile and innovative approach to digital advertising meant we could be braver than we were without them to invest our marketing budget with the trust that they would monitor and improve our performance throughout the summer. 

It was refreshing to have a partner who is experienced and has the insight in tourist attraction marketing and knew the challenges and how to overcome them.”

Lyssa Elste, Chief Executive Officer

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