The travel website directory and holiday review site TripAdvisor has recently hit upon a novel way to involve its millions of users actively in the future direction of the company. Additionally, as a result of this promotion TripAdvisor is offering its customers the opportunity to earn money; surely the type of promotion that will make people sit up and take notice.
TripAdvisor seeks community-based adverts
The TripAdvisor scheme will involve customers and followers of the company's social media streams sending in their own video content with the opportunity for the submitted videos to be featured in 15 or 30 second television advertisements. The competition will be available to TripAdvisor customers throughout the United States, France and Australia throughout the month of August.
The management team of TripAdvisor have indicated that the idea behind the promotion is to take advantage of the TripAdvisor community’s passion and knowledge about how the website operates. Essentially, TripAdvisor is tapping into its own customers’ collective concepts of what the branding and image of the website truly represents to them. Involving your own customer base and also the minds and inspiration of creative people in the image of the company would seem to be a winning combination for TripAdvisor.
Aside from the opportunity to see their video featuring on television as a prestigious commercial, the winner of the TripAdvisor contest will also pocket a grand prize of $25,000. Although only one commercial will ultimately be played on TV, TripAdvisor will be featuring five runner-up videos on its social media channels, the makers of which will all receive $1,000.
As well as incentivising users and customers to feel engaged with the company, campaigns such as the one being run by TripAdvisor offer the brand itself a form of genuine authenticity. More and more companies, brands and destinations are seeking their respective communities to share photos, videos and other content to be used on various social channels.
Social media and branding implications
This reflects a keenness to engage with the social media craze that has seen the likes of Facebook and Twitter become massive companies which generate huge revenues, but this also has important branding implications. Such promotions indicate that people have the desire to collaborate with brands that they like and feel passionate about, and this insight incites them to express their feelings about the brand. Ultimately, when a community is engaged with the brand effectively, it becomes the brand, and this symbiotic relationship can be extremely good for any business.
TripAdvisdor is by no means the first travel-related company to attempt such a campaign. The Intercontinental train operator Eurostar has also begun to reach out to its customers for crowdsourced videos. In the highly competitive rail market, Eurostar evidently feels the need to engage directly with its audience in an attempt to create a stronger bond with them.
Eurostar has been procuring its videos through the crowdsourcing platform eYeka, and key communications figures at the company have indicated that the campaign is an attempt to ensure that customers and rail travellers view Eurostar as more than just another train company.
Destinations also seek out the crowd
It's not only the corporate sector that can benefit from the strategy, destinations can also get a piece of the action. This can actually be a way for unfashionable destinations, or those lumbered with a relatively small budget, to innovatively compete with the biggest holiday destinations in the world.
One such example is Visit Philadelphia. The organisation affiliated to the northeastern US city has utilised such an approach to greatly outrank its prestige and size in the list of the United States' top holiday destinations. Philadelphia currently ranks #9 among the top 50 US destinations; no mean feat for a city that was seen as not particularly salubrious until recently, despite being hugely populous.
By running a contest in which locals and travellers alike were given the opportunity to explain how they would describe their view of Philadelphia - or ‘My Phillyosophy’, as Visit Philadelphia dubbed it - the organisation was able to tap into its Facebook following of around 400,000 fans along with any website visitors. Visit Philadelphia also offered a raft of attractive prizes to make it that much more attractive for people to participate.
Another destination taking advantage of the popularity of social media and its ability to enable community engagement is VisitScotland. Their Instagram campaign contest which runs under the hashtag of #beautifulmoment encourages people to send in attractive photographs of Scotland. Each month, five are selected by VisitScotland, and promoted on their blog and Facebook pages, with entrants receiving prizes.
Crowdfunding has already shown itself to be an extremely successful way of raising revenue for niche ideas; now it has been shown that looking to social communities to provide authentic advertising content can really pay off for both travel companies and travel boards.
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