As we approach the end of 2017, and wrap up our own destination marketing campaigns, it’s fun to look back at some of the most memorable marketing moves of the past 365 days. The tourism industry – and tourism marketing – are best when they’re fun. I appreciate marketers with an open mind, a sense of humor, and a willingness to “play” with a destination. And that’s exactly what we saw from some expert tourism marketers, who took a risk and saw their ideas pay off. From taking a lighthearted approach to a negative review, to saving one couple’s overcrowded vacation – these tourism brands did it right in 2017.
1. Snowbird Ski Resort’s One Star Review
Not every traveler ends up satisfied with the trip they planned. That’s exactly what happened when Greg from Los Angeles visited Snowbird ski resort. The slopes were too much for him and he left a one star review, asking “How is anyone supposed to ride in that?” But Snowbird took that message as a compliment, featuring the review as the prominent copy in their 2017 ads. Juxtaposed with sweeping views of the mountain and skiers covered in a flurry of powder, this bad review reads like a challenge to more adventurous ski and snowboarders – beckoning them to take on Snowbird during their next trip.
2. Helsinki Airport Presents #LIFEINHEL
Helsinki Airport was voted the best airport in the world in a survey done by booking website Travellink in 2016. Other destinations might tout the accomplishment for a few months, give themselves a pat on the back, and move on. But at Helsinki, this recognition was put to the test with a disruptive content marketing campaign in the form of a reality-style TV series: #LIFEINHEL. For 30 days, Chinese actor and TV personality Ryan Zhu lived in the airport, chronicling his experiences through video and social media. The series is full of ups and downs and funny moments in Helsinki Airport. Ultimately, it was a great way to show off the assets that made Helsinki the “Best Airport in the World.”
Bonus: Last year around this time, the Helsinki airport was making news for a completely different reason. A sign above the capital’s airport welcomed travelers with the message “Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November. Except you, you badass. Welcome.” You’ve got to hand it to their tourist board for having a great sense of humor and a willingness to think outside the box.
— Elinkeinoasiat HKI (@EloHelsinki) December 7, 2016
3. Visit Oslo Rescues Couple from Doomed Vacation Experience
In August 2017, New Zealand couple Sam and Marela were just trying to get a picture of the Mona Lisa. They were met with tight crowds and dozens of selfie-takers, making their Paris vacation far less fun than they hoped for. Visit Oslo noticed Marela’s Instagram post complaining of the crowds, and reached out to the couple. The destination then whisked them off to a crowd-free, stress-free vacation in beautiful Norway. In addition to making Sam and Marela’s day (month, year?) – Olso’s offer made news. It resonated with many travelers who have found their dream vacations full of long lines in frequently-visited destinations. Visit Oslo captured the couple’s whirlwind vacation in a video that’s been viewed over 1 million times.
4. Tourism Toronto – The Views are Different Here
I have to give some love to our neighbors to the North, who released a remarkable campaign in 2017 called “The Views are Different Here.” Part promotional video, part acceptance video showing the open-minded culture of Toronto, Ontario, the message takes a dual meaning by showcasing the diversity of people, activities, and energy found within the city. Set to a remixed version of the song “I Put a Spell on You,” this tourism video almost views like a music video. It works to entice every kind of traveler to consider Toronto as their next destination.
5. Visit Sweden Lists Entire Country on Airbnb
Airbnb is one of those services that is changing travel as we know it (looking at you, Uber) – and it was certainly a game-changer for Visit Sweden in 2017. The country is known for its “freedom to roam” principle, protected by law, that allows unrestricted access to public land. Visitors and locals alike can camp, picnic, and explore nature – for free. With that type of easy-going travel in mind, the tourism bureau in Sweden had the idea to list the whole country on Airbnb – noting that its accommodations are available “365 days a year, accommodate everyone, has unlimited beds” and that check-in is available “whenever.” It was a brilliant move that gained Sweden a lot of public attention in 2017 – and I have to admit, it’s hard to beat their prices.