Grassroots Destination Marketing Initiatives

Here are some fresh & interesting grassroots marketing initiatives, to give us some food for thought:

Ireland & Food Tourism Development

Fáilte Ireland has launched a search for 12 “food champions” who will build Ireland’s reputation as a food tourism destination.

The tourism body is encouraging the public to nominate people with “a resounding passion and belief in Irish food, together with a commitment and drive to actively influence and shape the future of Irish cuisine and food tourism in their region”.

Nominees could include people who own or run restaurants or other food service business, chefs and food producers.

Once selected, the 12 people will travel to Prince Edward County in Canada on a fact- finding mission. This region has become a food tourism destination because of initiatives like the Prince Edward County Taste Trail. When the group returns home, they will work with their local communities to help:

  • Build Ireland’s food tourism reputation and encourage visitors to stop, spend and stay longer
  • Develop networks & relationships within local business, organisations and regional stakeholders
  • Enhance regional knowledge base & develop engaging food experiences
  • Utilise food tourism as an economic development strategy


Canada & its Millions of Directors

The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) has launched a new initiative inviting Canadians to submit videos highlighting Canada as a tourism destination.

The 35 Million Directors project aims to collect hundreds of videos shot by amateur filmmakers that showcase the best Canadian tourism destinations, activities and events.

The entries, uploaded on a dedicated new website, will be assessed by a panel of expert judges, before being edited into a series of promotional advertisements to encourage international travel to Canada. Professional directors will craft the public’s narratives into a grassroots campaign highlighting the country and its tourism offerings.

Prizes will be awarded to winning entries, and the final film will premiere at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada Congress event in November before being broadcast on national television and the web.


Georgia Tourism & the SmackDown Challenge

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) launched a Challenge with which Georgia tourism professionals are encouraged to assemble teams to work together on a creative  proposal that will focus on Georgia residents.

The Smacktown Challenge was a statewide competition between tourism organizations, attractions, and travel partners and hosted by GDEcD. Each competitor submitted a proposal outlining a tourism marketing campaign for 2013 that will promote inner-state travel for all communities across Georgia. GDEcD will implement a version of the proposed plan in 2013.

It was recently announced that Greater Rome Convention & Visitors Bureau (GRCVB) was the team to win it. Check out their proposal in this video:

Key objectives for the proposals were to: Provide measurable economic impact to Georgia during the month(s) of the promotion in 2013 by encouraging and inspiring Georgia residents to stay in-state and spend more money during February and/or August; Generate qualified leads for Georgia Tourism Partners; Drive measurable results to include web site hits, travel guide requests, media attention, event attendance numbers, hotel stays, etc.; The campaign should contain some type of control mechanism to ensure that participants are indeed Georgia residents.


New Tourism Campaigns & Social Media for Every Season

“Love Every Second of Sydney” User Generated Content Winter Campaign

Aiming to build its winter numbers and reach 2020 overnight visitor targets, Destination NSW has just launched a new campaign telling Aussies and Kiwis they’ll ‘Love every second of Sydney’.

The campaign was designed to emit a romantic factor behind Sydney while showcasing the wide range of events running throughout the city during the colder season.

Utilising ‘first time’ initiatives, the campaign includes digital and social media promotion including a first ever eight page fold out in the New Zealand Herald as well as tram wraps in Melbourne, bus sign in Auckland and light projections in Brisbane and Auckland.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Chipchase, said the campaign theme captures what research has shown people want in short breaks and weekends away: exciting, vibrant experiences packed into every second. She said the Group was also making an increased effort in combining its events with tourism promoting relevant shows.

This campaign will be the first time consumer generated content will be uploaded onto some of the key outdoor sites in Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland. Social media will play a key role in the campaign with travellers urged to “Capture the Perfect Sydney Second” and share their favourite Sydney memories online, where their photos are displayed in a second by second timeline as well as play a type of ‘pass the parcel’ game on Facebook that will see fans win prizes every now and then.


Visit Florida New Summer Social Media Campaign

Visit Florida which recently announced an increased number of visitors and visitor spending for the first quarter of this year, launched its newest social media-based campaign to increase destination awareness as a summer vacation destination.

The campaign features “Florida’s Three for Free Giveaway” sweepstakes, where participants from the U.S can enter to win a grand prize of three personally selected Florida vacation packages. The five-week campaign, which is expected to garner more than 425 million impressions, kicks off with targeted Facebook and Twitter ad buys. Visit Florida worked closely with the two social media giants to develop a highly-defined target audience that includes families and couples throughout the North and Southeast who are interested in summer drive travel. As a way to continue the campaign’s momentum, house ads on and a dedicated email blast to e-newsletter subscribers will begin in early June.

In the summer of 2011, Visit Florida conducted a highly-successful Facebook-driven campaign that became the subject of white papers from Facebook and Wildfire – the Facebook marketing software provider that produced the applications used in the sweepstakes. A Nielsen study on the “Sunshine Moments” campaign showed a 10-point increase in intent to visit Florida and a significantly improved opinion among the state’s key demographic of 25-34 year olds.

Crowdsourcing for Destination Marketing- Make it Personal!

Tourism boards around the world, such as in Canada, Australia, Iceland amongst many others, have been embracing crowdsourcing for the last few years. Engaging the local community, giving them the power to showcase their knowledge of their own destination while at the same time enhancing the authenticity and ‘personal experience’ factor in the marketing messages is a path widely chosen in many campaigns.

Not to mention that crowdsourcing has also proved quite a popular solution for reputation management campaigns tapping the power of the people such as in the case of Iceland, Athens and many more.

We especially like it when the local community is also involved in even earlier stages, when the responsible tourism marketing organizations decide on the brand identity as the base of all future actions. Let’s see some recent examples!

New South Wales’ People Guide Bloggers

Destination NSW is sharing with the world NSW’s best sites and attractions via a new social networking campaign in which its residents can spread the word on the best kept secret in NSW.

Destination NSW  recently launched  the Global Youth Campaign, designed to get people talking online about all there is to experience in NSW. During a bloggers trip, at the beginning of March four bloggers from around the world embarked on a one-month nonstop content generating mission in NSW.

Travelling around NSW in a bus, these social media experts will be filming, posting, tweeting, blogging and experiencing NSW. The Facebook and Twitter community of NSW will determine where they go, what they do and who they meet.

Destination NSW made a great social move creating a open platform for tourism operators and NSW residents to communicate and collaborate, promoting their destination’s attractions by getting on Facebook and Twitter and sharing their secrets about where the bloggers should visit and what any visitor must do.


Louisiana Calls all Festival Fanatics

Louisiana Travel, part of the state’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, recently asked for its residents to become festival fanatics supporting their state in claiming the title of the Festival Capital of the World.

Ideal candidates for the position would include outgoing people who already love the festival life, have a strong presence in social media, are looking to earn extra money in their free time and have reliable transportation.

Festival Fanatics assignments would include using social media to talk about the festival the week leading up to it, pairing with another festival fanatic to shoot video and photos while at the festival, talking to people about why they are at the festival and blogging about the festival following the event.

By using the organic method of social media — blogging, tweeting, posting, sharing pictures and video – Louisiana Travel expects the wealth of culture Louisiana has to offer to be shared among people across the state and beyond, especially considering the effect that word of mouth plays in travel decision making.


Visit Savannah Crowdsources Tourism Video

Visit Savannah last fall used a dancing statue to promote local tourism in a YouTube video.

The sequel could feature any of the following: A bicyclist, a runner, sock puppets, a collage of local celebrities or a New York City couple there on vacation. Those were the protagonists in the five finalists in the YouTube Tourism Video Contest.

Visit Savannah launched the competition in response to the criticism directed at its “General O” video, a 3-minute, 30-second clip released last October that highlighted Savannah’s top tourism sites but was panned as a “minstrel show” by critics.

Visit Savannah challenged the public to “create a tourism video that highlights Savannah’s sassy spirit and Southern charm.” The creator of the winning entry, to be named in early April, will receive a $7,500 cash prize, and the video will be featured as part of Savannah’s summer tourism campaign.


and of course let’s not forget the great initiative …

Sweden’s Twitter to the People

In a really social move, Sweden took the whole digital world by surprise when it decided to give total control of its Twitter account to it’s citizens with its Curators of Sweden campaign.

While nowadays -almost- all destination organizations are on social media with the ultimate goal of promoting the best they have to offer, staying within the secure limits of trying to show only the beautiful side of the place, by promoting the usual elements of weather, food and landscapes, minimizes the authenticity.

As the Campaign’s website nicely states: “The idea is that the curators, through their tweets, create interest and arouse curiosity for Sweden and the wide range the country has to offer. The expectation is that the curators will paint a picture of Sweden, different to that usually obtained through traditional media.”

Letting the local people, that actually make the destination, take over the official Twitter account and speak their mind, surely promotes the uniqueness and makes the social media channel truly representative of the destination.


It’s All About Experiences & Engagement: Tourism Australia & Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day & Foursquare

Today, 02 Feb., is Groundhog Day in the US and Canada and this day every year the small city of Punxsutawney takes the national stage. Now with the advent of social media, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office is hoping to bring the city and its beloved tradition into the global spotlight.

And the tool of choice is Foursquare, the location-based, mobile platform that uses brightly colored badges as incentives for amassing check-ins at restaurants, tourist attractions, events and the like.

Foursquare users will be able to receive the Groundhog Day badge by following @VisitPA on the social network and checking in using the word “groundhog.” The badge will only be available from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Groundhog Day.

Now in its second year, the Groundhog Day badge has been record-breaking. It was unlocked by 27,846 users in 2011, more than any sponsored badge to that date

The badge is also representative of a unique partnership between the state of Pennsylvania and Foursquare. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to use Foursquare to promote more than 200 of its state tourist attractions.

Since the 2011 Groundhog Day badge, the tourism bureau has launched four badges, three of which have been retired. The remaining badge, called the Lock and Keystone badge, can be won by checking into five tagged locations across the commonwealth. Tagged locations include museums, restaurants and wine trails.

VisitPA has been a fantastic partner over the past year plus, working on not only badges, but user and merchant engagement,” according to a Foursquare Media Relations representative.

For the tourism office, the partnership with Foursquare has introduced Pennsylvania attractions to a global audience. Foursquare has 15 million users worldwide who have checked in at more than 1.5 billion locales, according to its website. Since its Foursquare launch, the tourism office’s account @visitPA has gained nearly 97,000 followers. More than 67,800 of those followers have unlocked one of its sponsored badges.

Groundhog Day badges are especially great because they’re available worldwide. Everyone in the world gets a chance to think about Pennsylvania — and visiting there — for one day, which is of even bigger importance to the Pennsylvania tourism officials  than getting people who are already in Pennsylvania to earn the badge.

Even though it’s not just about followers, it is worth mentioning that since the announcement of the 2012 Groundhog Day badge on Jan. 23, the @visitPA Foursquare account has grown by 1,200 followers.


100 Amazing Australian Experiences

A new campaign has just launched from Tourism Australia New Zealand, Fairfax media and Qantas.

We love this collaborative initiative, which manages to combine deep market intelligence, user generated content and a holistic presentation of the full package of tourism products and destinations.

The month-long digital campaign showcases 100 amazing Australian experiences, as chosen by Kiwi travel editors and experts. Launched on Australia Day with idyllic coastal experiences, the campaign also promotes Australia’s must-do journeys, nature experiences and events.

Each week, readers can vote for their favourite experience for the chance to win a $10,000 Australian holiday.  The campaign’s next phase will reveal the list ‘as voted for’ by Kiwis, along with the most travelled Kiwi of Australia.

100 Amazing Australian Experiences sits on the Australia Travel section of, alongside national news stories, lifestyle content and experience postcards. It’s supported by Tourism Australia social media and e-dm activity, as well as Qantas marketing.


Fresh Marketing Initiatives from Australia, Philippines & Bermuda

Time to Dream in Tourism Australia & Sydney

We loved the fresh New Year’s Eve initiative by Tourism Australia and Sydney, who this year went a step further

The film, titled ‘Project:12 – Time to Dream’ was created overnight and released on Tourism Australia’s YouTube channel and Facebook and Twitter pages in the early hours of New Year’s Day before many other parts of the world reached their own 2012 countdown.

Tourism Australia asked Sydney residents and visitors to record up to 6 seconds of video footage on their smart phones and upload them on the 31st of December, via the freely provided Sydney NYE App. They released this short film capturing the night as it unfolded, following the stories of a few individuals as well as the individual clips of user generated content, uploading them via the Sydney NYE iPhone app, and the official broadcast footage of the fireworks within hours of the midnight celebrations.

Australia passed the 2million mark on their Facebook page shortly before 2012 began, leading to the video being liked and shared over 14,000 times in the first few days, reaching an extended network in the tens of millions.


“Feel the Love Month” at Bermuda

The  Bermuda Department of  Tourism  is promoting the destination as the ideal romantic getaway in a new winter marketing campaign in North America.

Sponsored by the Department of Tourism, the island’s  ”Feel the Love Month”  takes place from  January 16 – March 3 offering couples the chance to enjoy the island’s cultural offerings through dedicated daily activities including cruises, champagne and strawberries museum reception, salsa dancing nights and more.

Additionally, travellers can enjoy a free night stay at participating hotels when booking a minimum three-night stay during Feel the Love Month.

Accommodations range from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to beach clubs and historic beach-front properties, and the promotion also provides access to exclusive deals and rates at more than 50 Bermuda retailers, including water sports shops, retail stores, restaurants and more with a special Traveler’s Price Card.

Bermuda’s “Feel the Love Month” events and activities include: Couples’ Golf Tournament; Champagne and Strawberries Afternoon Affair; Love Train City Tour; SalsaMania Latin Night Out Dockyard Glassworks; Shopping in the City; Visitors’ Love Cruise; Feel the Love Fridays and a Love Tales Walking Tour.


“It’s more fun in the Philippines”

The Department of Tourism (DOT) just launched a new brand campaign to attract visitors to the country with the line –  ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’.

Focusing on the country’s core strength, the campaign singles out what no other destination can offer – and that is the Filipino people. For example, the Lonely Planet guidebook calls Filipinos ‘among the most easygoing and ebullient people anywhere.’

“Our strategy is simple: while other countries invite you to observe, Filipinos can promise a more heartfelt and interesting experience. Wherever you go, whatever you do in the country, it’s the Filipinos that will complete your vacation and will make your holiday unforgettable,” says the new Tourism Secretary, Ramon Jimenez, Jr.

The Filipinos are already known around the world to be one of the happiest and warmest people on earth. The campaign hopes to enjoin the whole country in creating positive buzz of the tagline.

As the international campaign is underway, the DOT is also developing a national initiative under the line ‘#1FORFUN’ to rally the nation.“The national line is a goal, a constant reminder to ourselves why we can tell travellers it’s more fun here than anywhere else,” says the Secretary, “It needs everyone’s support for it to stay true—we need to make sure people’s experiences in our country are positive, enjoyable, and most of all, fun.”

For the past week, the DOT, through private briefings with traditional media and social media personalities, has been trying to create buzz about the unveiling of its new campaign while it also launched its new website for the campaign,

On Friday morning, the hashtag #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines became the top trending topic worldwide on Twitter. In the Philippines, the campaign also figured prominently on Twitter.