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Paul Kubalek is the Digital Media Manager at Saalbach Hinterglemm, and has been with the DMO for over 20 years. Paul will be joining us at #DTTTCampus alongside a panel of other DMOs to talk about working with influencers, the story behind the 'Storybase' campaign and the kind of results they’ve seen since this campaign began. We caught up with Paul ahead of #DTTTCampus to gain some insight on Saalbach Hinterglemm's digital strategy and what we can expect from the talk.

1. Please introduce yourself and your organisation. 

I’m Paul Kubalek and I work for the Tourist Board Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria. I’m responsible for the whole range of Digital Media: from Website content to Social Media Strategy, Content & Community Management, from Online Marketing Campaigns to Content Creation and Influencer Relations.

2. What do you consider key to making Saalbach an inspiring and attractive brand?

Saalbach has over 100 years of touristic history. So it’s been a strong brand long before anyone thought about developing Saalbach as a brand. Simply because Saalbach stands for unique holiday experiences. One key for sure is being innovative and communicative. In 2015 we went through a brand developing process and created our core value “lässig” (cool/laid-back) as well as a new logo. As the “Home of Lässig” we claim to be the coolest destination in the Alps. All our marketing activities and strategies are built around that.

3. Please tell us a bit more about the concept of the Storybase?

The idea for the Storybase concept was born in Autumn 2016 when we tried to find a way to deal with the growing importance of influencer relations & marketing. We, of course, did collaborations with bloggers before but we wanted to develop something special that matches with the way we think and work. What makes the Storybase so different is the strong community factor and that there’s no set programme, no contract and no definition of what or how much content participants have to deliver.

4. How did it start and how has it evolved since?

The rough concept details were set up at the end of November 2016, the first Storybase event took place in the second week of January 2017. So we had around 6 weeks to acquire crew members, set up our organization structure and to create special activities and experiences. We didn't know what to expect, but it worked out really well. The sixth edition of Storybase will take place between June 15th and 22nd 2019, so immediately after #DTTTCampus – hopefully a good omen. 😉 The fundamental concept is still the same, but we took learnings from every single edition.

5. What are the main challenges of this concept?

Every event turns out to be completely different. One big challenge is organizing all the activities we offer. As there’s no set programme, many things happen on very short notice. This demands maximum flexibility and personal effort from the orga crew.

6. And what are the main opportunities?

Working with (micro) influencers, in general, gives you the chance to transport your message through an authentic channel which is not yours. Ideally, the person does not simply transport your message but experiences it instead. With the result that – at the end of the day – influencers tell the brand’s story in their own words. During Storybase we try to concentrate this effect into a short period.

7. How do you select your chosen Influencers and Micro-influencers?

There’s still no default solution to this task. Overall there are four questions we try to answer when we select influencers: 1. Does the person match with our brand values and do we want him/her to tell our story? 2. Does he/she authentically stand for what we offer? As all our core products are outdoor sports and activities we need to make sure that they are into it. This also includes – depending on the season - skills in skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking or hiking and a general understanding that it’s not the best idea to join a sunrise hike wearing flip-flops. 😉 3. Does his/her community match with our target groups (mainly in terms of interest and origin) 4. Does or did he/she use “dirty tricks” to grow or boost his/her engagement?

8. Does this strategy shape most of your content?

Storybase is one part of our various marketing activities. We did not define different content guidelines for the Storybase project. The standards we claim to ourselves in terms of content quality, authenticity and availability match with what we expect from the crew. Besides the impact during the particular event period through the channels of the crew, the Storybase projects have created a great content pool for us to use on our social channels over the years.

9. Based on your experience, do you have any advice for other DMOs when developing a strong influencer strategy?

Follow your instincts: Sometimes a rather small but highly motivated influencer might be the better choice. Try and fail: Many collaborations can be done with a low budget or in return for accommodation and access to sights or activities. Sometimes it’s better to try and fail than missing a chance. Expect the unexpected: Influencers will surprise you in positive and negative ways. Be prepared but don’t take it too personally. 😉 Know your value: In my opinion, all collaborations in the travel sector (paid or not) are based on a win-win situation. We as travel destinations need influencers, but they also need us. Both sides take benefit of cool content. Influencers need beautiful and exciting places to show, travel destinations want to be shown. It’s always give and take, meet at eye level.

10. What can attendees expect from your talk at #DTTTCampus?

Insights of a hand-made project I was involved in from the very first moment. I’m really looking forward to exchanging experiences and knowledge with the #DTTTCampus family.

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