National tourism agencies/ boards and destination marketing organisations are looking at new ways of engaging potential holidaymakers.

Published: 05 Apr 2011

National tourism agencies/ boards and destination marketing organisations are looking at new ways of engaging potential holidaymakers.

Be it for location-based social games or proximity marketing or online competition via check-ins, there is no dearth of exciting campaigns.

Social gaming

Recently, Tourism Ireland stated that it has become the first national tourism board in the world to launch a social game, tapping into the huge popularity of games like FarmVille and CityVille. The new game, Ireland Town, will be a part of Tourism Ireland’s Facebook pages. The organisation highlighted that 24 percent of all people on the Internet in the US and Great Britain play social games at least once a week.

Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s Central Marketing Director, said: “It is a unique promotional tool and a first, as no other national tourist board had done this before. For those fans who may be planning to visit in 2011, this is certainly a different way to research their holiday.”

In Ireland Town, Facebook fans are invited to create their own idyllic town in Ireland, with the help of 'tour guide' Sally. They can then explore iconic sites and visitor attractions around the island, completing various challenges in order to progress to the next level of the game; these challenges reflect the huge variety of things to see and do on a holiday in Ireland. There are 32 destinations and nine different tasks to be completed during each challenge. Fans can progress faster through the game if they sign up their Facebook friends to also join in. For the fans who make it through all of the tasks, there is the chance to win a 'real world' prize of a holiday to Ireland.

Banking on the viral effect of social games, it is expected that up to 100,000 Facebook fans will sign up to play Ireland Town over the coming weeks.

Henry said: “Given that Tourism Ireland currently has a fanbase of a quarter of a million people around the globe, and each of the fans has in turn an average of 130 friends, Tourism Ireland can potentially engage with 32.5 million people worldwide through our new Ireland Town game.”

Recently, Virgin Atlantic chose to re-launch its social travel community site,, with a strategy focused on rewarding its frequent flyers using gaming mechanics. The airline says it plans is to take the fundamental thinking and technology behind social gaming and develop it to allow its loyal customers and Flying Club members to be rewarded for their contributions. The airline will introduce the ability to earn real currency in the form of miles in addition to the more usual virtual rewards.

Location-based initiatives

Recently, Visit Orlando teamed up with Gowalla for a new way to experience the most-visited destination in the US. This initiative marks Visit Orlando’s first foray into location-based services. Its been stated that this programme marks the first time proximity marketing has been used to encourage consumers in one city to visit another city. The plan is to offer consumers in select markets a way to experience Orlando’s vacation experiences from the comfort of their hometown. The idea: If one lives in Austin, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia or Washington D.C., her or she may engage with Orlando without leaving their hometown through custom Orlando Trips on Gowalla.

Earlier this year Britain’s national tourism agency VisitBritain created its first official online global competition with Facebook ‘Places’ offering potential visitors the chance to win a holiday in Britain worth £3,000. The contest invited fans of Love UK, VisitBritain’s Facebook page, to join forces and work as a team. To enter, the Love UK fan or any of their Facebook friends needed to “check in” using their mobile device to any two of over 300 top British tourism “Places”.


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