You can learn a lot by following sheep through Norway or applying for “the best job in the world.” Here’s how marketers from all industries can draw inspiration from innovative travel marketing to inform their own campaigns.
As avid globetrotters can attest, traveling offers the chance to go on an unforgettable adventure and experience the world from a different perspective. Travel marketers have a wealth of material to work with — stunning scenery, delicious food, vibrant cultural traditions — yet destination-specific campaigns often fail to evoke the magic of what it’s really like to dive into a new environment.
While many marketing campaigns that strive to capture this mix of curiosity and excitement fall flat, these stellar efforts have captured the imaginations of travelers around the world. From fantastical flight safety ads to a social media campaign led by intrepid sheep, here are a few travel marketing initiatives that have managed to inspire audiences and make a lasting impact felt round the world.
1. Visit Finland
The Visit Finland website is full of informative, visual content like blog posts and videos, but what really stands out are unique features like this interactive animated map. This map takes you on a whimsical tour of sites like Helsinki, the Aurora Borealis, and “Santa’s office” in the city of Rovaniemi. The Visit Finland website also offers fun, engaging activities like discovering your Finnish horoscope.
2. Graubunden Tourism
In 2015, the Swiss Alpine region of Graubunden launched a charming, innovative campaign to attract new visitors. Marketers put a large screen in Zurich Central Station featuring a live, interactive feed with a local man from the scenic mountain village of Vrin. He talked to passersby in the train station and then printed them free tickets to visit his town, encouraging them to stop by for an afternoon and take in the natural beauty of the mountain region he calls home.
3. Inspired by Iceland
The Inspired by Iceland website offers a range of engaging content, including interactive classes that highlight each of the country’s regions, from A to Z. You can also join Team Iceland in the World Cup, if only in spirit, by creating your Icelandic name and putting it on a digital jersey. Past initiatives have included Iceland Academy, where viewers could complete classes on tongue-in-cheek topics like how to take safe selfies, earning badges and the chance to win a free trip to Iceland.
4. Canada Shared by Canadians
One way that marketers can gather great content is by sourcing it directly from their audience. In 2012, the Canada tourism website Keep Exploring asked Canadians to pick up a phone or camera and film their favorite parts of the country. The resulting YouTube video, featuring everything from large bears to soccer games to the Northern Lights, is a great mix of authentic and high-energy user-generated content.
5. Air New Zealand
To coincide with the release of the third film in The Hobbit Trilogy, Air New Zealand decided to capitalize on its unique cinematic history with this magical flight safety video. Branding itself as “the official airline of Middle-earth,” Air New Zealand enlisted Elijah Wood and Sir Peter Jackson to bring the airline’s standard pre-flight safety procedures to life. The video — which currently has over 19 million views on YouTube — was directed by New Zealand native Taika Waititi, who would later go on to direct Thor: Ragnarok.
In 2016, Visit Norway decided to give four sheep the reins on their marketing campaign du jour. Every summer, over two million of Norway’s sheep are let loose to roam the countryside, and four of these adorable “woolly wanderers” were chosen for an official Sheep with a View Instagram account to showcase their adventures. Erik, Frida, Lars, and Kari explored the forests, mountains and fields of Norway, picking up tens of thousands of followers along the way.
7. The Best Job in the World
To attract new visitors to the remote but beautiful Queensland region of Australia, Tourism Queensland launched “The Best Job in the World” campaign in 2009. On offer: the chance to become a caretaker for the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef for a six-month stint. Tourism Queensland asked entrants to submit a one-minute video application explaining why they would be perfect for the role. The response was overwhelming, to the tune of 34,000 applications (including this musical entry from Canada native Mitchell) and unprecedented media coverage.
By translating the thrill of travel to a variety of digital initiatives, these memorable campaigns encouraged those bitten by the wanderlust bug to follow along and engage with another culture. Taking inspiration from these campaigns, marketers in all industries should strive to “transport” their audiences and create a sense of wonder with innovative and exciting content.