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.