Film Tourism & Destination Marketing

Film-induced tourism is one of the fast growing sectors of the tourism industry and this is something that both the UK and New Zealand know very well.

James Bond on VisitBritain’s Service

On Global James Bond Day, marking the 50th anniversary of the 007 film franchise, VisitBritain launched its biggest ever film tourism campaign, centered around the release of “Skyfall,” the 23rd James Bond adventure.

Capturing the adventure and excitement of 007, VisitBritain’s image campaign includes its largest ever film tourism campaign, which will be shown in cinemas in key inbound markets like Australia, Brazil, Germany and the US. A number of billboards declaring “Bond is GREAT Britain” will also remind people that there is no better time for them to visit Britain and explore the home of the world’s most dashing secret agent.

VisitBritain also launched an online SKYFALL experience called ‘Agent UK’, designed to engage with the large digital and social media following that the national tourism agency already enjoys. The campaign can be shared through Twitter, Facebook & Google+.

Britain’s rich heritage and culture, along with its film expertise all combine to make the UK an ideal location for filming, something which has been drawing film-makers to Britain for years.

On average, 120 million people worldwide will see a blockbuster film in the first three weeks of it opening and research shows that film locations can be a major draw for overseas tourists. VisitBritain research shows that just under half of potential visitors to Britain want to visit places they have seen featured in films or TV.

New Zealand is 100% Middle Earth

100% Middle-earth,100% Pure New Zealand underpins Tourism New Zealand‘s (TNZ) campaign work to promote New Zealand as a visitor destination through its association with the upcoming film releases of “The Hobbit” Trilogy.

The aim is to take advantage of that global profile by showing how easily the fantasy of The Hobbit movies can become reality in the form of a New Zealand holiday. The dedicated marketing campaign aims to show potential travellers that the fantasy of Middle-earth is in fact the reality of New Zealand – and that there is a whole world of experiences to be had and people to meet within the movie-scene style landscapes.

Research conducted by Tourism NZ in May to July, 2012 found that 57% of people already considering a trip to New Zealand were aware of The Hobbit trilogy. Of those aware of the films, 87% know they were filmed in New Zealand and 58 per cent are fans of the Hobbit.

This week sees the first 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand joint venture activity launched in USA as part of an advertising campaign with Air New Zealand. Rolled out using online advertising, potential travellers will be directed to landing pages on and respectively promoting return airfares to Auckland.

Talking about marketing integration, it was recently announced that New Zealand’s capital Wellington will rename itself “The Middle of Middle-earth” when it hosts the world premiere of The Hobbit movie trilogy next month. The city will also host Hobbit artwork and an artisan festival. The city also announced that the postal service and local newspaper will be among many agencies to use the unofficial Middle Earth moniker for three weeks.

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The Destination Marketing Landscape: The Role of DMOs

2012 has been declared as the year of integrated online & offline marketing while digital technology is nowadays at the epicenter of the tourism experience.

Since the budget of a DMO and its allocation are determined in relation to the benefits which it ultimately brings to the destination and of course to its stakeholders, the fact that the majority of the marketing spent is now being allocated to the online presence and digital applications, shows among others the importance of a targeted digital marketing strategy.

According to “2012 DMO Marketing Activities Study”, a new research conducted by Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), destination management organizations (DMOs) are making “significant” investments in digital marketing, although they still spend a majority of their budgets on traditional marketing vehicles.

For the purposes of this benchmark study on DMO marketing practices, primarily in the leisure travel market, DMAI surveyed 240 DMOs from around the U.S and found that print advertising accounts for 33% of the typical DMO’s leisure marketing budget, while TV and radio advertising account for 8% and 5%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Internet marketing accounts for 30%, according to DMAI, which said DMOs have spent more than $39 million on website and mobile app development in the last three years.

According to DMAI, half of responding DMOs market internationally, and those who do invest one-third of their marketing budget outside the United States — mostly in Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, which were identified as the most popular countries where DMOs are marketing.

“In order to reach these and other global consumers, more than ever DMOs are integrating their online activities, especially social media, into their overall marketing efforts,” DMAI reported. “Banner ads and search engine marketing dominate the online spending landscape, and almost all responding DMOs said they were present on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”

Further illustrating DMOs’ increased spending on Internet marketing is the fact that more than three-quarters use a Content Management System (CMS) and almost half have at least one staff person devoted to website content management.

When it comes to mobile, meanwhile, half of DMOs have or plan to have a destination app by the end of 2012, and almost all have or plan to have a mobile version of their website.

As far as results are concerned, the study found that DMO’s new group room bookings grew 4.8% last year; a total of 35.6 million group room nights occurred as a result of DMO sales and marketing efforts; while, in the 275 markets where DMOs are active in group sales, DMOs represented 19%, or 1-in-5, of all group room demand in 2011.

Meanwhile, at the other side of the Atlantic, the European Cities Marketing (ECM) reports that 56% of DMOs have an annual budget higher than 5 mil., whereas 50% of their marketing budgets is allocated online.


New Marketing Campaigns- Listen, Engage & Inspire!

Mexico Tourism Board has just launched a new marketing initiative as part of a reputation management framework, incorporating user generated content to build trust and change perceptions in its main market. Tourism Toronto has also released a new marketing campaign this month, which manages to promote the city’s holiday season variety of events and attractions through integrated marketing activities beautifully combined with the holiday charity spirit and delivered through effective industry partnerships. And finally, Tourism Vancouver attempts through its latest marketing initiative, to position the destination as a good place to visit utilizing the opportunity of a sports event, to capture a very interested audience through an other innovative use of social media.

Mexico Tourism Board’s ‘The Taxicab Project’

The Mexico Tourism Board has launched a new advertising campaign designed to change perceptions of and drive tourism to Mexico. Simply entitled, “The Taxicab Project”, the campaign features unsuspecting tourists returning from vacation in Mexico giving unscripted and unadulterated testimonials as they are driven home from the airport.

The unscripted and unedited testimonials that form ‘The Taxicab Project’ have been designed to change the way Americans look at Mexico in the hope of driving further tourism growth from the United States.

According to Mexico Tourism Board chief marketing officer, Gerardo Llanes, the North American campaign “features the very people American consumers trust most … American consumers”.

“The people we interviewed were selected at random and provide refreshingly candid accounts of their recent trips to Mexico,” Mr Llanes said. “From the sea to their safety, these videos answer all of the questions Americans want to know.”

The campaign will commence with the distribution of promotional ‘Mexico Taxicab Project’ postcards, that when held up to a smartphone, reveal the initial ads.


Tourism Toronto’s New Holiday Season Campaign

To showcase the city’s holiday season events and happenings, Tourism Toronto has launched a marketing campaign that includes Facebook, partnerships with hotels and retailers, a charitable component and the installation of seven-foot snowmen in the city’s downtown.

Launched under the banner “Torontoland”, the campaign began earlier this month when 20 fibreglass snowmen were introduced to downtown streets. The snowmen serve as a connection to Torontoland’s online elements, including a microsite – – and a Facebook page.


Consumers planning to visit Toronto can book a hotel package on the microsite and “like” Torontoland on Facebook in order to receive a Torontoland wristband by mail. When they go to the city, these visitors can use the wristband to receive 15% discounts at more than 50 attractions, retail outlets and restaurants.

Visitors are also encouraged to share their Toronto experiences with their Facebook friends and upload photos or videos of themselves with the Torontoland snowmen to the campaign’s Facebook page. Tourism Toronto will donate $2 to Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada for each photo and video upload.

In addition to the wristband, the mail package for consumers who engage with Torontoland online also features a map and information about events such as the Scotiabank-presented Cavalcade of Lights and the Santa Claus Parade. Andrew Weir, vice-president of communications for Tourism Toronto, said the objective of the campaign is to promote the city’s holiday season roster of events and attractions.

“December is actually the least busy month for hotels, and yet, when you look at what’s happening in the city, it’s one of the best times to be here,” said Weir. “We had to find a way to communicate this idea of the magic of the holidays in the city. “This also helps turn Toronto residents and visitors into ambassadors that are sharing their stories [online].”


Vancouver Gets Social Media Fans on the Streets

Tourism Vancouver and Vancouver Coast & Mountains Tourism Region have been inspired by one of America’s biggest marketing events in giving away a prize package that includes tickets to Sunday’s Grey Cup game for fans willing to do some legwork.

The contest is running in both Vancouver and Winnipeg. It’s part of a social media campaign called the Grey Cup Chase devised by Vancouver-based Think! Social Media. The concept is a reworking of an idea first used for the Super Bowl in Dallas earlier this year.

Grey Cup Chase

Fans must track down one of two “mystery men” wandering the streets of Winnipeg and Vancouver and give them a secret phrase that can only be found by clicking “like” on Tourism Vancouver’s Facebook page. Clues to their whereabouts are fed through a Twitter account at #GreyCupChase and via selected bloggers until somebody wins.

“An event like the Grey Cup is like a small version of the Olympics,” said Rodney Payne, co-founder and executive director at Think! “You’ve got a lot of passionate fans who are willing to do quite a lot for some tickets. We want to position the destination as a great place to come and travel to afterwards.”

It’s a bit of an experiment, said Candace Gibson, manager of consumer marketing for Tourism Vancouver. “We know that people are following events like the Grey Cup online and through social media more and more all the time, so this is just another way to reach a very interested audience.”

Gibson said the target group is 25-45 with a 60/40 male split. The objective is to create buzz through new Facebook fans, “likes,” adding Twitter followers and garnering a bit of traditional media attention.


Online/Offline Marketing Integration Case Study: This is Athens

User Generated Content & Reputation Management through Integrated Online & Offline Marketing efforts

Back in 2010,, the official visitors’ website of Athens, Greece launched an online initiative titled This is Athens, a concept developed by the Athens Tourism and Economic Development Co. (ATEDCo) in partnership with abouTourism destination consultants and MindWorks/ website design & development by ATCOM . The campaign’s objective was to create the largest photostream ever made for Athens, inviting the city’s residents and visitors to upload their own photos online and show the whole world what Athens was all about.

The campaign rolled out at a time when the city’s and the entire country’s image was put to test due to intense but short lived public unrest incidents. The blow on the city’s image due to intense and one-sided media coverage was fierce and at the same time local residents needed an opportunity to revamp their pride for the city. The most effective way to achieve both and fight back was to show the world what was really happening in the city.

At a crisis time, when no tourism marketing campaign seems to be convincing enough, the challenge lies in depicting the actual and multi faced situation, leveraging the negative connotations which stay with the audience for much longer than those few days that the actual incidents lasted. This is when the actual people that form and represent the destination come into the equation and can play a crucial role.

The goal of the ThisisAthens campaign was to engage local people, showcase the everyday life in Athens, promote a flavour of true experiences and an alternative image of the city through user generated content. The campaign created the first-ever real-time photostream documenting daily life in Athens through more than 5,000 pictures. Every day, Athenian locals posted hundreds of photographs taken by them of  “their own” city.

The campaign received thousands of tweets and shares on Facebook and Twitter and contributed greatly to the image of this contemporary urban, historic and culturally-rich city we know as Athens. Furthermore there was the possibility to add tags, comments and descriptions in every uploaded picture thus making it easier to share and spread via social media channels.

In continuation of the online marketing campaign, in July 2011 the Athens Tourism and Economic Development Co. (ATEDCo) launched the This is MY Athens initiative, a visitor greeter program designed to give visitors the insider’s edge of the city through a walk with an Athens local.

According to the abouTourism perspective on strategic tourism marketing and integration, the second part of the ThisisAthens campaign was a transportation of the strategic drivers and objectives of the digital campaign initiative into an offline environment, while still utilizing online and offline media to promote it.

This is My Athens is free program available to visitors to Athens and staffed by volunteer Athenians who are excited to show visitors “their city” and all it has to offer.

Launched during a challenging period at a national and local level, during which tourism- an industry the destination is relying heavily upon- was also affected, the This is MY Athens program was greeted with unprecedented enthusiasm from Athenians. They were constantly expressing their desire to show the entire world what Athens was all about, in contrary to the city image they knew was circulating globally. Hundreds of volunteers registered their availability to meet and greet potential visitors to the city and many walks have already been organized while the list keeps growing.

Following a full destination tourism product audit, the program’s goal is to showcase the variety of the city’s tourist offerings through the program’s promotion and processes, offering visitors the opportunity to select from a variety of experiences.  In order to ensure the best possible visitor satisfaction levels, we ensured quality control standards and measurement were in place through documented visitors’ feedback and explanatory introductory sessions for all selected volunteers, informing them about the tourism product as well as the program’s ideals and objectives. The volunteering Athens Locals are then left with the freedom to create their own itineraries and the choice to show what they enjoy most about their city.

To facilitate the program’s processes, support the volunteers and achieve the best possible results in terms of service, we also incorporated the city’s Visitor Information network, by offering further information and registration possibility through the city’s Info Points positioned in high visitor flow locations. With the use of high end technology equipment (LCD screens and iPads) visitors are able to explore all the city has to offer digitally as well as register for a walk with an Athens Local.

The initiative was promoted through online and offline media and received extensive coverage mainly due to its voluntary nature and the fact that there was already a public desire building up for corrective actions. The campaign cleverly employed the public’s motivation to help promote their city and show a positive and alternative side of Athens by actually giving them the opportunity to become the city’s brand ambassadors. More than 300 Athens Locals have registered as volunteers making this one of the most successful visitor greeters programs available, while more than 100 visitor applications have already been received in less than 2 months of the program’s operation.

The two parts of the ThisisAthens campaign are an example of integrated marketing where online and offline marketing initiatives complement each other, driven by an accurate situational analysis and set marketing objectives to ensure consistency of the promoted message and efficient brand management. It is an ongoing reputation management campaign which involves the local population.

The next stages of the campaign’s development will include its expansion to the local audience, organization of street events, flash mobs, walks with celebrities and …well that’s enough for now…..Stay tuned for more!

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