Category: Tourism Marketing

Videos are increasingly becoming important to travel marketing. Effective and catchy videos, especially those that go viral, can increase brand recognition.

An example is Turkish Airlines’ classic viral video, ‘The Selfie Shootout’ between Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi. Released in the first week of December last year, it is said to be the most viral travel campaign of 2013 after gaining over 127 million views after just two weeks.

Its astonishing success also claimed 28 per cent of all the views for branded videos in the month of December. Yup, a big deal. Check it out below:

So, How About Destination Videos?

Imagine if your own destination video received 100 million views in two weeks: That means millions of potential traveler eyeballs on your destination!

As a growing marketing channel, online videos are key to marketing destinations. This is because on the traveler’s side, online videos are essential in travel planning:

Videos not only inspire people to plan their next trip, but also prompt them to decide which destination to visit in the future.

2013 study by Google reveals that viewing an online video influences the choice of next travel destination of 63% of leisure travelers and 66% of business travelers. See the graphic below on how the travel funnel works, and the significant role videos play in the initial steps of the process.

As videos are the fastest growing marketing channel, “online videos are expected to account for up to 30% of marketers’ total digital budgets by the end of 2014,” according to another report by eMarketer.

Certainly humor, surprise, and celebrities get attention. However, there are many ways to approach a tourism destination video. They can be serene, energetic, broadly focused on a whole country or specific to one distinct cultural characteristic.

Thus, it’s important to produce and promote destination videos that will convey the atmosphere and sense of one’s place and transport the viewers to your destination. Moreover, destination marketers need to make sure that their video will stand out from the stream of videos that are released every day.

Need video inspiration? Here are some of the Solimar staff’s favorite tourism videos and why they work for us.

Greenland: Rough. Real. Remote.

Greenland – Rough. Real. Remote. from on Vimeo.

Natasha was part of a team that took an epic adventure trip around the Destination Arctic Circle in Greenland in August 2012, and firmly believes that Greenland feels like home to one with an adventurous spirit. There is no sentimentality in this video; it is Rough. Real. Remote.

Watchtower of Turkey

Watchtower of Turkey from Leonardo Dalessandri on Vimeo.

Leonardo Dalessandri tells the rich culture and history of Turkey through a film he made from his journey of over 3500 km in 20 days, “capturing landscapes from the bluish tones of Pamukkale to the warm ones of Cappadocia… and [met] the soul of Turkey, its people.”

Incredible India

It’s difficult to forget the phrase “Incredible India”, highlighting India’s diverse landscapes, cultures, and people, this video immerses you with India’s colorful and festive delights.

Shetland Ponies in Cardigans

Focusing on the unique and adorable practice of warming their ponies with sweaters, this video offers a quick and unforgettable glimpse of a special Scotland attraction.

There’s Nothing Like Australia

This video for Tourism Australia evokes “romantic” feelings by showing picturesque sceneries and relaxing activities while playing Dewayne Everettsmith’s “It’s Like Love” in the background.

Koh Yao Noi

Koh Yao Noi from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Check out this video by filmmaker Philip Bloom, taken on vacation in Thailand. The images speak for themselves, showing the “haven” that is Koh Yao Noi island through nature and people interacting with the camera.

Pride of Namibia

Thanks to the integration of conservation into its constitution and to firm practices of responsible travel, Namibia’s wildlife has flourished. This video, which tells of Namibia’s commitment to protect its wildlife, recently won the Adventure in Motion 2014 competition of the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Las Islas, Colombia

Made as part of Solimar’s Geotourism Project with National Geographic in the San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina archipelago, what makes this video special is that the locals tell the story of their islands. Local voices talk and sing what they love most about the region. Directed by Gregg Bleakney, the video combines stunning visuals, enchanting music, and overall a great authentic destination story. (To learn more about the Las Islas Geotourism Program, read this blog post.)

There are many approaches to a successful tourism destination video. Which ones (from our list or others) are your favorites?

It is no secret: Solimar International loves Namibia! And we have been fortunate enough to work with clients in the country of ‘Endless Horizons’ for the past 4 years- including several collaborations with the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB). In 2015 Solimar will launch a new, specialized trade marketing program for the NTB, with the goal of introducing North American travel trade and media to Namibia via the coordination of familiarization trips (FAMs).

Previously, we worked with the NTB on the Namibia Online Campaign (2011-2013) and North America Destination Marketing Campaign (NADM) (2010-2014). NADM’s objective was to promote Namibia to North American travelers and ultimately, increase community based tourism and household income.  Solimar’s activities specifically targeted travel trade, marketing Namibia to tour operators, travel agents and wholesalers, incentivizing them to add Namibia to their destination portfolios by providing various sales tools, campaigns, FAM trips and special events.

While still awaiting the final campaign numbers on North American tourist arrivals, the projects were successful, resulting in a significant increase in the number of committed partnerships with North American travel trade, an increase in travel trade trained on Namibia, and an important surge in the number of Namibia tours and packages added to North American tourism business’ portfolios. 

Solimar is excited to continue North American marketing for Namibia in 2015. We will collaborate with the NTB by organizing a series of FAM trips, intended to introduce members of the North American travel trade and media to Namibia.

Solimar will be involved with the FAMs from beginning to end – creating thematic itineraries that best exemplify Namibia’s cultural and natural experiences, reaching out to members of the trade and media, vetting and selecting the most qualified for participation, organizing air travel, and after the trip, working with the participants’ to help them market their new Namibia itineraries to their clients.

We are thrilled to continue working with the NTB and helping spread the word about one of favorite, and most unique destinations in the world.  

Being flexible and current are two important characteristics to a successful online marketing campaign. The social media landscape is constantly evolving—whether it is the changing of an algorithm, a new feature, new trend, or even the inception of an entirely new social media platform. To run a successful online marketing campaign you must be knowledgeable of these alterations and have the ability to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Adapting to Changing Rules

To understand what a change in “social rules” looks like and how it could be a game-changer in your online marketing campaign, take a look at this recent example. Just a week ago Facebook instituted a change which disallowed requiring someone to “like” your page before entering your contest, promotion or giveaway. This feature, coined “like-gate”, has been a significant factor in online marketing campaigns. In many cases, the main purpose of offering a contest or giveaway is to enhance a company’s social media presence.

In fact, many online marketing campaigns use “likes” as a metric for success. Does your contest now serve a purpose if it isn’t generating “likes”? If not, how can you modify your strategy to accommodate for this?

These are crucial questions in ensuring your online marketing campaign meets its objectives.

Finding Solutions

In 2013, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi partnered with National Geographic and Solimar to promote Geotourism development and contribute to the region’s competitiveness as a tourism destination. Solimar pushed forward an online marketing campaign focusing on the Geotourism MapGuide, which promoted the US Gulf Coast States (USGCS) through an online interactive map, mobile application, and print map. USGCS’s first marketing campaign was called “Hidden Treasures” and was designed to demonstrate the MapGuide’s utility as a resource for lesser-known attractions in the region. The mechanism behind this campaign was a giveaway in which participants could win a trip to one of three weekend getaways in Vicksburg, MS; Lake Charles, LA; or Miramar Beach, FL.

In early 2014, radical shifts in the brand page design and user feed algorithm on Facebook forced a shift in how the platform could be used for marketing and engagement. Facebook applications, on which the “Hidden Treasures” campaign was largely built, were sidelined. This meant that apps were no longer a central component in a page’s interaction with a user. As a result, driving traffic to the application was more difficult, entries into the contest were low, and the campaign did not achieve its intended result. This algorithmic change was largely focused to drive advertisers to pay for sponsored or boosted content. To adjust for this, Solimar rolled out a second campaign, “Summer in the South” which was adapted to better thrive in this environment by utilizing Facebook’s pay-for-play services. The adjustment proved successful, driving over 12,000 visits to the USGCS Geotourism website—nearly a third of the website’s 5 month total traffic in two weeks’ time.

Integrating New Platforms

In other instances, an entirely new social media platform may start trending. In 2012, while working on the North American Destination Marketing Campaign (NADM) for Namibia, Pinterest emerged onto the social media scene. Solimar’s online marketing team recognized the captive audience that Pinterest was garnering, joined the network, and adapted their content calendar accordingly. Solimar had to quickly learn the ways people used the platform and then generate content aligned with what was trending. Specific content focusing on recipes and weddings, for example a board for “Weddings in Namibia”, were created.  By staying current and on top of trends, a completely new audience was reached.

These are just a few examples of how Solimar keeps a close eye on changes in “social rules” and trends when running online destination and tourism marketing campaigns.  Being able to quickly shift to enhance clients’ performance is key to success. To achieve this, a campaign needs to be flexible. Flexibility may be reached through diversification, as seen in the USGCS example. If the USGCS online marketing campaign solely relied on the “Hidden Treasures” campaign, the entire project would have failed. Being current is also extremely important. The NADM’s campaign would not have been as successful had it not been adapted to the social environment and utilize Pinterest. In an environment that is constantly changing, effectively running an online marketing campaign that is both flexible and current will help ensure that your campaign reaches its objectives.

After four amazing, rewarding years, Solimar wraps up its work in Namibia.

Last week, the 4-year North American Destination Marketing (NADM) Campaign came to an end. The project was managed by Cardno and implemented with four other companies, including Solimar.

In 2010, when the campaign began, traditional source markets for Namibia, specifically European tourism, were lagging due to economic recession and market saturation. The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), with support from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), decided to aggressively pursue the North American tourism market to boost their visitor numbers, and contracted Cardno, who then put together the NADM team to create a comprehensive marketing program. Separately, Solimar was contracted to develop an integrated online marketing campaign.

Within the NADM campaign, Solimar was responsible for the online tools component. Our role was to create educational and sales tools, trade campaigns and then market these to North American travel trade. Ultimately, our goal was to help North American operators sell more Namibia. We found that agents and operators knew and loved Namibia, but were facing a challenge: their clients were not asking for it. We began to develop tools that would help them create demand among their client base: campaigns that helped them engage with their communities about Namibia, as well as incentives to encourage them to sell more of our destination.

Over the course of four years, our team developed four targeted campaigns, which had trade and consumer components. These campaigns were fueled by interactive contests, which created a buzz among the communities of our trade partners through social networks.

The success of the NADM campaign was due to its integrated nature, the team tackled different sectors of the tourism sector at the same time. For example, at the same time as Solimar was creating tools and working with agents, our colleagues from the Business Tourism Company were training local businesses and business owners in destination management and marketing to optimize the opportunities available to them. The NADM campaign made it a priority to broaden local knowledge of the complexities and opportunities available through the use of online marketing and to build a foundation of understanding of destination marketing and the North American tourism value chain and market sectors. The campaign’s focus on training and education allows for more long-term and sustainable business practices, ultimately benefitting the local communities in a significant and effective way.

Likewise, Cardno was coordinating attendance at trade shows and road shows. There were three North American Road Shows, two trade shows, and 34 other travel trade events held during the course of the campaign, which established linkages with North American operators, expanded Namibia’s presence in the market, and increased its market share in North America. The team from STI worked to strengthen Namibian festivals and events by developing a strong relationship with the city of Windhoek and supporting the relaunch of the /Ae//Gams Arts and Cultural Festival in 2014, linking market-ready festivals and events to the North American market.

Another essential component of the campaign was the Public Relations (PR) platform, which focused on raising the profile of Namibia and its products and experience offerings among North American target consumers. It involved creating a dynamic campaign and taking it to road shows, airlines, and news outlets both in Namibia and North America. The campaign earned multiple destinations in Namibia press coverage in a variety of influential North American media outlets, through newspapers, websites, and television.

An exciting highlight of the campaign was the opportunity Namibia was granted to host the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) in October 2013. As ATWS is the largest gathering of adventure travel professionals in the world, with over 700 attendees, this was a key opportunity for Namibia to assert itself as a heavyweight in the adventure travel industry. The NADM campaign decided this it was crucial to capitalize on this opportunity, allocating energy and resources to pursue Namibia’s bid to host the campaign, as well as the organizing all of the logistics once it was awarded. This was the first time ATWS was hosted on the African continent, and support from the NADM campaign was critical to the Summit’s success.

Overall, Solimar and its partners were able to significantly increase the awareness of Namibia as a tourism destination in the North American market through this campaign. These efforts have left a legacy of strong business relationships between Namibian and North American travel trade, and increased awareness for Namibia and the Namibia Tourism Board to build upon.

It is estimated that 84% of leisure travelers use the Internet for planning their trips. Knowing this, a creative and effective online tourism marketing strategy is essential for every tourism destination.

The US Gulf Coast States (USGCS), more popularly known as the “Southern Crescent,” comprising of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida has actively sought to enhance its online tourism presence and to interconnect its travel experiences across states. The results have proved promising: At the conclusion of Solimar’s year-long involvement with the USGCS Geotourism Program, the region has succeeded in creating a regional website of around 1,800 unique and authentic local sites, attractions and businesses that has attracted over 35,000 unique visitors to its pages to date. The program has also built a Facebook community of over 3,000 followers.

The Project

The USGCS Geotourism Program, in partnership with National Geographic, seeks to promote tourism that sustains and enhances the natural, cultural and historic attributes of the four Gulf States and that benefits local communities. The goal is to highlight what’s unique about a place through the voices and stories of the people that live there.

The challenge for Solimar was to facilitate collaboration among industry stakeholders including the government, local businesses, public lands and residents to develop marketing tools that promote the region as a world-class tourism destination.

Solimar’s strategy included the establishment of a Geotourism Stewardship Council composed of representatives from the four state tourism offices as well as private and public sectors stakeholders from the region. The Council’s role was to oversee and implement the Geotourism Program in the region with the vision to help promote the lesser-known jewels of the states. Upon the creation of the Stewardship Council, Solimar worked with National Geographic and local partners to promote the USGCS region.

The Geotourism team used a tested methodology to gather content and stories from local people to create an online Geotourism website, highlighting the lesser-known attractions of the region through the voices of the people that live there. The website and its accompanying mobile app and print MapGuide are high quality tools, co-branded with National Geographic, to help travelers explore the region.

Once the Geotourism website, apps and print maps were created, Solimar worked with our local partners to implement two social media campaigns to promote the Geotourism website. A Geotourism Program Facebook page and related social media channels were established and used to engage travelers with the content and stories of the region.

The Results

Through these campaigns, Solimar helped the Geotourism Program generate over 35,000 unique visitors to its website, build a community of over 3,000 Facebook followers and generate over 1.8 million media impressions using the content from the website.

Solimar is proud to have been a part of the USGCS Geotourism team. Ultimately, this campaign shed light on the importance of using smart online tourism marketing strategies. Developing useful marketing tools, targeting the right campaigns and involving locals in telling their stories are all part of what made the program a success.

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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