Athens is Awarded for Marketing Efficiency & Ideas that Work!

The largest online & offline integrated marketing initiative ever launched for the City of Athens, has been  honoured with an international efficiency award!

2012 came to the best possible close for the City of Athens Development & Destination Management Agency (ADDMA), as it received the 2012 Silver Effie award  for the launch of the “This is MY Athens” campaign, at this year’s Effie Awards Hellas 2012.

This Is My Athens

The Effie Awards are marketing communications awards given yearly by Effie Worldwide, Inc., a non-profit organization, to honor the most effective marketing communications ideas: ideas that work.

“This is MY Athens” was honored for the effective results of the Greek capital’s promotion through the largest photostream of the city ever created and for the launch of one of the largest “tour guide” volunteer programs worldwide thanks to the participation of city residents.

The “This is Athens” photostream includes over 5,000 photographs, taken exclusively by Athens’ locals and city visitors and were gathered in less than one month. (Photos are still being uploaded. Click here to view.)

The second phase,  “This is MY Athens” campaign was launched in summer 2011 as a free tourist service aimed to enrich visitors’ experiences in Athens. The campaign includes volunteer Athenians acting as tour guides to the Greek capital’s guests, showing them the different faces of Athens and tourist attractions that are not found in travel guides.

We have another reason to be proud of the specific initiative as the EFFIE awards are considered one of the greatest recognitions in the marketing communications field, while they are universally acknowledged as the only awards upon which the effectiveness of a campaign is measured.

Both phases of the initiative were designed, developed and implemented, in partnership with ADDMA, by abouTourism (concept development, information architecture, project management) and Mindworks (concept development, website design/development).

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Greece: Online Reputation Management & Destination Marketing

For an online reputation management program to be successful at a destination level, it is clear that Tourism Boards and DMOs need to follow an organized and methodical approach. Setting clear objectives, communicating it to all stakeholders and coordinating their activity while having integrated the program with existing marketing and operational activities are the basic steps to success.

This post focuses on Greece as a tourism destination and on the most recent initiatives taken at a national, regional and local/city level towards the targeted promotion of tourism on key strategic themes and using online reputation management practices.

Meanwhile,  abouTourism is glad to have contributed to the development of three of these projects.

Online Reputation Management & Brand Monitoring Mechanism for Greece

The Greek National Tourism Organisation (G.N.T.O) has recently introduced “True Greecean Internet-based initiative which aims to further promote the positive publicity of Greece as a tourist destination online, especially utilizing social media.

True Greece is a dynamic web based platform which is fully integrated in the existing marketing plan of the organization. This tool is utilized to directly clarify through facts, any existing “inaccuracies or speculations” that concern the wider operational and service environment in the country as well as the safety and security levels at Greek tourism destinations.

The mechanism has been designed to allow the organization to track, register and manage accordingly all comments, reviews and observations that refer to Greece as a tourism destination on an ongoing basis. The Internet and social media applications are already being used very successfully by the G.N.T.O to post news and to communicate the tourism “brand added value” of Greece. “True Greece” aims to further promote the positive publicity of Greece as a tourist destination online, utilizing effectively social media platform network externalities.

The initiatives’ key priorities are a) the promotion and communication of key elements and competitive advantages of the Greek tourism product and b) the promotion and dissemination (through social media) of positive messages/opinions that visitors have about their experiences (via video spots, web testimonials, reviews, posts, tweets). Based on these priorities a content strategy was developed mapping the target media and providing the basis for customized content and activities to be constantly disseminated to  third party channels.

In line with the real time and social nature of the project, the following phase of the initiative calls for support from volunteers who tweet and share the truth about Greece by responding to inaccuracies or speculations they may come across online. «True Supporters», is a team of volunteers responsible for monitoring and responding to online comments and mentions regarding Greece as a tourist destination. The «True Supporters» idea is based on the concept that the most effective response to negative mentions and inaccuracies is provided by real people that feel passionate about the destination.

The third phase of the project saw the development of a Facebook campaign which invites users of the Visit Greece Facebook page to create their own “True Greece” photo album, by selecting their favorites from the existing picture gallery of Greek destinations and win their True Vacations in Greece. The prizes comprise of vacation packages with return air tickets and 4-day accommodation for 2 for 150 lucky winners and the deadline has already been extended to the 27th of August due to high levels of participation.

As far as cooperation and coordination goes, the initiative is already being supported by a series of government agencies including the Greek Radio Television S.A., the Athens News Agency and the Hellenic Foreign Ministry. The agencies will be assisting the effort by tracking and gathering news and other related material as well as working with local, national and international media outlets.

abouTourism is glad to have been assigned to develop the concept as well the content planning & creation strategy for this initiative in partnership with Mindworks digital marketing agency (Business Unit of ATCOM).

More info onwww.truegreece.org

New Promotional Video for Athens Business Tourism

The Athens Convention Bureau has just released its first ever promotional video for the business tourism product of the City of Athens as part of its action plan and strategic direction towards the further development and promotion of business tourism.

Through the eyes of a business traveller visiting Athens for 3 days, viewers can get a glimpse of all the city has to offer in terms of conference, accommodation, and public transport facilities, as well as cultural, gastronomic, and other leisure activities.

Through the video we are invited to follow the delegate during the conference participation, site inspection, and sightseeing in the historic and cultural center of the city, the gastronomical journey and the Athens coastline. The video features over 20 locations and facilities in the Athens center and the greater surrounding area.

The video spot showcases the business tourism product of Athens under five key strategic themes; the Olympics heritage and specialization in congress and events organization, the business product at the city center and the surrounding areas, cultural heritage, conference facilities and additional activities at the coastal zone of the city as well as regenerated industrial multi-purpose venues.

Event planners are informed of the wide selection of modern infrastructure, and can choose from 40 conference and exhibition venues, more than 379 meeting rooms as well as satisfy any accommodation requirement from 695 hotels around Athens. Furthermore, they are invited to take a tour around unique sites and museums of world cultural heritage, sample refined and modern Mediterranean cuisine and explore activities for every taste and of the highest standards.

More informationwww.athensconventionbureau.gr

This is MY Athens Program Celebrates 1 Year

This is MY Athens, the visitor greeters program for the City of Athens celebrated 1 year of successful operation in July.

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, a concept and developed by abouTourism, was greeted with unprecedented enthusiasm from Athenians and has received strong interest from the city’s prospective visitors during this time.

During this year we have organized numerous exciting events to keep the Athens Locals’ engagement and excitement high about the cause of the program. One of the activities was a special flash mob-like- event which was organized at a central city square. The event came alive with the participation of Athens Locals as well as the delegates of the EuroXpro 2012 Conference,  organized by AIESEC in Athens, who first experienced a walk with  Athens Locals.

A few days ago celebrating the program’s ‘birthday’, all Athens Locals were also invited to celebrate along with visitors, joining us all to a special birthday event which included a lot of music and special happenings!

We are glad to see that Athens Locals are as excited as ever to show even more parts of their favorite city to the world. At the same time the dedicated surveys show that Athens visitors are appreciating more than anything the opportunity to discover parts and secrets of the city that they would not have been able to discover without the help of a local.

More info: thisisathens.org

‘Incredible Crete’ Promotional Video for Reputation Management

The Region of Crete has just released a series of promotional videos showcasing that life in Crete is as beautiful as ever.

The videos attempt to directly tackle some key perceptions which have been formed and reproduced by mass media, inviting visitors to visit and “See for yourself, feel for yourself”.

The videos featuring the island have been uploaded on YouTube and Vimeo, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. They are also currently being aired on the Travel Channel, the leading international travel broadcaster, with which the GNTO (Greek National Tourism Organization) is already collaborating.

Official sitewww.incrediblecrete.gr

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Online/Offline Marketing Integration Case Study: This is Athens

Online/Offline Marketing Integration Case Study: This is Athens

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

Back in 2010, BreathtakingAthens.com, 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!

For more information visit: www.thisisathens.org