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Ainhoa Cordoba has worked at San Sebastián Tourism & Convention Bureau for nearly three years and is currently the Head of Communications. An interesting fact about Ainhoa is that she co-wrote 365 Thoughts for a Successful Business. It's no surprise that inspiring and telling stories comes naturally to her, which is why we got her to produce this opinion piece that details some of the stories behind the Donostia/San Sebastián Digital Strategy.

 

"Authenticity, sustainability and quality of life on the bullseye"

Introduction to Donostia/San Sebastián Digital Strategy

Donostia/San Sebastian has welcomed tourists since the 19th century when royalty and aristocracy started to spend their summers in the city. Thanks to tourism, we now have a vibrant city with remarkable infrastructure and a lot of cultural options. However, the growth of global tourism and our city’s popularity as a top destination have made us rethink the tourism model we want for Donostia/San Sebastian, and how we can make the people who live here, the cornerstone of our campaign.

At the end of the day, an authentic city, with the quality of life for its inhabitants, will also be attractive to visitors.

Donostia/San Sebastian’s digital strategy

Tourism professionals, community leaders and local citizens have worked together to produce The Strategic Tourism Plan Donostia/San Sebastián 2017- 2021. The plan focuses on four core areas:

  • Sustainability
  • The balance between citizens, visitors and businesses
  • Quality of life and visit
  • Authenticity (identity, culture, traditions)

Outlined are some examples of low budget creative campaigns that successfully promoted these core areas.

1. Authenticity: Identity, language, culture and traditions

#BasqueChallenge Campaign

We launched #BasqueChallenge in order to promote Euskara (Basque). It’s the oldest language in Europe and one of our main culture and identity marks, which makes our destination different from other places.

We created a fun challenge inviting participants from all over the world to make a video asking them to say a tricky Basque sentence, with the hopes of making it go viral on social media. The phrase, which in English means, I can do it, can you, is:

Ni gai naiz, zuek ere izango al zinatekete”

The incentive of sharing or uploading the video, whereby you challenged a friend to tackle the basque tongue-twister on social media, was the chance to win a meal at the three-time Michelin star restaurant, Arzak in San Sebastian.

The main video included shots of worldwide visitors with funny reactions while they tried to say the sentence, mixed with brief glimpses explaining basque language.

The video reached almost half a million views and 3840 interactions on Facebook during the campaign, and people from all over the world participated in the challenge: Japan, United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom, Ireland, Argentina and Switzerland, to name a few. Click here for more information about the campaign and the participants that took part in the video or click here to learn more about Basque language and culture.

2. Overcoming the seasonality of Tourism

#LaConcha365

In February 2018, La Concha was named the best beach in Europe and the sixth-best beach in the world in the TripAdvisor's Traveller’s Choice Awards.

In order to share the news of this prestigious award, we created the campaign, #LaConcha365 as a way of highlighting the city’s reputation as an internationally-recognised quality destination with the aim of promoting the city out of the high season. LaConcha365 is a competition and promotional video that emphasises the attractive nature of the city on all 365 days of the year.

Throughout the campaign, the video achieved 919,157 views on Facebook, which equate to 1408 interactions with people from 42 different countries. We learnt that the most popular “perspective” of the city was #LaConchaDaydreaming (17.30% of votes).

Check more content to promote San Sebastián as a year-round destination: cultural agenda and city of festivals.

3. Preventing overcrowding: Promoting alternative areas of the city

Donostia Uncovered: discover the life of the neighbourhoods!

We launched a series of publications, online content, videos, interactive routes and 360º virtual tours. All of which aimed to promote the following:

Donostia Uncovered” videos

We created short videos suggesting alternative plans to do in the neighbourhoods, which went viral on social media. We offered a general video to raise awareness, and four specific ones for the neighbourhoods, here:

Discover the life of the neighbourhoods

Antigua

Gros

Egia

Amara

4. Sustainable and Responsible Development of Tourism

"Donostians for sustainable tourism"

We are committed to the sustainable and responsible development of tourism, seeking to ensure that local residents and our visitors enjoy the greatest benefits and wellbeing.

locals of san sebastian

Despite some critical voices against tourism, many Donostians are in favour of continuing to share our city with visitors in a balanced and sustainable manner and of safeguarding the 15,000 jobs that are generated by tourism every year. Tourism continues to underpin a range of industries and the local economy as a whole, both directly and indirectly, and 95% of the companies linked to tourism in Donostia are local SMEs.

The ‘Donostians for sustainable tourism’ campaign launched in may, aimed to share the voices of Donostian people that benefit from the positive effects of balanced, quality tourism. We displayed billboards in the street and shared some videos and testimonials of real citizens that benefit from tourism on social media (only in Basque and Spanish, targeting locals).  

You can find more information about the Donostians for sustainable tourism campaign here.

“My guide to be a Donostiarra”

Finally, we also created some do’s and don’ts for the responsible tourist.

Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 16.01.00

This is taken from our website’s homepage and it’s also handed over in a notebook, “My guide to be a Donostiarra.” It contains local suggestions for congressmen, agents, journalists and bloggers visiting San Sebastián. Furthermore, we promote and sell authentic experiences and day trips from small local suppliers: “Feel like a Donostiarra

Be sure to check out other DMO opinions, including Visit Olso's Great Escape campaign or How Visit Denmark Reimagined their Content Team. Or if you wanted first-hand experience to shake up your content strategy, have you considered #DTTTCampus? It's our interactive and immersive workshop experience, with industry keynote speakers, experts and content creators. You can find out more about Campus here.

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