Cape Town Tourism’s most recent marketing initiative used a clever combination of travel blogging, crowdsourcing and social media to draw attention to the city, ranked 23rd among the top 25 travel destinations worldwide in TripAdvisor’s 2012 list of Traveler’s Choice Destinations.
Cape Town — #1 on that list of destinations, just after hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup — has worked to sustain high visitor growth, capitalizing on the approximate US $1.8 billion the city invested to welcome over 1.5 million soccer fans back in 2010.
Cape Town Tourism worked hard to convert “Soccer Fans into Cape Town Fans”: a year after the World Cup ended, the I ♥ Cape Town Facebook page reached 100,000 fans. The page now has over a quarter of a million Facebook fans. And even before the 2010 event, Cape Town Tourism was no stranger to crowdsourcing and social media, having produced a city guide with content crowdsourced using Facebook and Twitter.
Cape Town’s most recent effort looks to deconstruct the typical traditional press trip (or “fam” trip) – often described by the press (those being “familiarized”) as being herded like cattle, at breakneck speed, from one tourist attraction to another, from one meal to the next. Locals? Local cuisine? No guarantee.
This year, as part of its larger “iAmbassador” campaign, Cape Town Tourism invited four international travel bloggers for a stay in Cape Town. The bloggers (Keith Jenkins– @velvetescape; Melvin Böcher– @traveldudes; Nellie Huang– @WildJunket; and Matt Long– @landlopers) had among them 136,000 Twitter followers and reach “millions of readers each month” through online channels. Then, Cape Town Tourism invited Capetonians to a “Welcome to the Bloggers” Twitter chat on Sunday, July 29th, asking locals to share tips for the bloggers’ itineraries using the hashtag #LoveCapeTown on Twitter (via eTurboNews).
The hour-long chat resulted in 1,500 tweets. After that, locals followed the four adventure pros via the hashtag on Twitter and their individual Facebook pages. (“Calling all Capetonians, we’re looking for tips on offbeat things to do and see in the Mother City so if you have a suggestion, be sure to tweet us … we’ll follow up on the best tips and feature them (and you),” posted @velvetescape to his blog.) Later in the week, one of those suggestions may have caused him to be in position to witness a seal stealing the catch at the waterfront:
— Keith Jenkins (@velvetescape) August 4, 2012
According to a recap report from Fazielah Williams of Cape Town Tourism, the kickoff chat and week-long use of the #LoveCapeTown hashtag produced more than 23 million tweet impressions. Williams goes on to quote Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism;
“We know that this campaign was a success from many points of view. It was instant – and yet there are still many more blogs and tweets that will follow …. The campaign was followed with interest by traditional media, but the biggest success of this campaign was the citizen engagement it led to. For us, it proves that often we should just initiate and guide the conversation, setting up platforms where it can unfold.”
Du Toit-Helmbold also quotes blogger @Traveldudes’ opinion of the new improved “fam” trip model: “The engagement of Capetonians in the #LoveCapeTown campaign was really impressive, I haven’t seen this in any other blog trip campaign so far.”
So locals become the virtual tour guides, providing a list of visit-worthy places, restaurants and experiences, while the bloggers “play a vital role, sharing their experiences via social media in real-time and providing destinations with easily-searchable online content,” according to iAmbassador Keith Jenkins. Will other cities embrace crowdsourcing as tools to promote tourism?