Tourism Boards Crowdsource Marketing Campaigns

With consumer-powered sites like TripAdvisor sapping tourism boards of much of their traditional power and control over messaging, it was only a matter of time before crowdsourcing became the latest trend in tourism marketing.

The Canadian Tourism Commission was one of the first out of the gate, going so far as to turn everything from its global TV campaign to its website over to consumer generated content. (Full disclosure: we worked on this campaign).

“Locals Know” was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the Top 10 tourism campaigns of all time and resulted in significant increases in both domestic tourism and international arrivals. The two-year effort started with a domestic campaign challenging Canadians to share their local knowledge of great Canadian travel experiences. More than 4,500 Canadians responded with text, images and video. The best content was then re-purposed, warts and all, for the CTC’s global TV campaign.

More recently, Tourism Australia borrowed a page from the CTC playbook to create their own crowdsourced campaign. More than 29,000 Australians submitted their local travel picks which now populate the website.

A few weeks ago, Australia launched its new TV campaign – an epic singalong featuring travel experiences drawn from the submissions of Australian locals. While the CTC opted to use the actual footage shot by travellers, Tourism Australia created a big production number that essentially seeks to re-create a more perfect version what was once consumer generated content.

And just this past week, the Icelandic Tourism Board jumped on the crowdsourcing trend in an effort to overcome the challenges posed by their now-infamous volcano.

“Inspired by Iceland” has so far generated some 270 travel experiences, most of which do not include having volcanic ash fall on your head. Their quirky TV campaign plays off popular internet memes from “Where the hell is Matt” to “hey, I’ve got a webcam, watch me dance”, except that it’s all professionally shot.

While tourism boards are embracing crowdsourcing and giving the locals a powerful voice in promoting their own home, the authenticity that makes the campaigns so potentially powerful seems lost when they revert to scripted hollywood numbers for the TV spots. The CTC is the one exception, staying true to the rough-around-the-edges but oh-so-compelling nature of consumer generated content.

UPDATE: New Zealand is appealing to ex-pats to help spread the word about what’s happening back home in 2011. More details on their website – click the pic:


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