Visit Chester and Cheshire – Virgin Trains Destination Marketing Campaign for The real Chester

The Question

Access was the agency of record for Visit Chester at the time of this campaign, delivering brand identity, brand communication, corporate and consumer literature and consumer destination marketing advertising campaigns.

Virgin Trains had identified Chester as an untapped market for their North Coast mainline service and partnered with Visit Chester to produce marketing materials to encourage route travel from London (and various points along the route) to Chester to enjoy the Chester Experience 

For Visit Chester it gave them to opportunity to showcase the range and diversity of offer in the region.

The Answer

The insight we used was to challenge perceptions about where and what was on offer in Chester and to invite Londoners to come to Chester for a short stay trip to discover the real Chester. The incentive was a fantastically low fare offer from Virgin Trains! Our research had shown us that most Londoners didn’t know where Chester was, weren’t aware of its Roman heritage and didn’t expect it to have much to offer. 

It was targeted as a short break / weekend destination for Londoners to get away from their daily lives, either as a romantic break (part of the campaign ran across Valentines weekend) or for families with young children (hence the references to Chester zoo!) as these were deemed the most lucrative segment opportunities.

We worked with a range of partners across Chester and Cheshire to create a ‘packaged’ approach to the offer, including pamper sessions, romantic meals and shopping for couples as well as visits to the Zoo, the Blue Planet Aquarium and outdoor activities for families.

The core marketing activity was supported by a ‘flash mob’ of Roman Centurions at Euston Station to give the campaign a sense of theatre – which went down well with the London Standard newspaper!

We also planned a mix of online and offline communications led by a direct marketing campaign targeting households (via mail and email) segmented by certain behavioural characteristics (i.e. young families with propensity to take short breaks in the UK within easy reach of Euston station). The year one creative is shown below.

Project timeframe
This project was delivered within six weeks of briefing and the campaign ran for eight weeks.

Results and Achievements

The campaign was regarded as a huge success, which can be said because it ran again in the subsequent two years. Unfortunately we weren’t provided access to the economic impact study results, but we were informed that the original pricing model was quickly changed in year two as tickets had sold at a much faster rate that had been expected!


“Access know our brand, they know our product and they know how to market our destination.
Together we sat down with Virgin Trains and fleshed out the broad concept and marketing plan in an afternoon. Access then went away and crafted every detail of the campaign. And I was delighted with the outcome.”

Barrie Kelly - Director of Marketing, Marketing Cheshire

Visit Chester webpage mockup
Visit Chester flyer
Visit Chester train station advertisement
Example of animated advert banners on MEN website

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