Heleen Huisjes's Photo
Heleen Huisjes


DMO Stories

The #DTTT met Heleen Huisjes, director at Visit Brabant, who will be joining us on stage at #DTTTGlobal - Disrupting the Future Destination, on the 1st & 2nd of December in Brussels. Considered a first for a region in Holland, VisitBrabant were successful in raising an impressive campaign budget and securing investment from leisure partners, an amusement park, a nature reserve and four major cities. At #DTTTGlobal they will share the story of a destination with strong ambitions and a vision as to how it can attract interest in international markets using influencer marketing and social to create buzz, tell a story and create engagement. 

Could you tell us more about yourself and and the work you do at Visit Brabant?

VisitBrabant is a very informal and non-hierarchical organisation. As director of this team, I work closely with all team members and also in the operation itself. My main task is to keep the whole group in focus: which activities are most important to reach our goals? The team consists of highly motivated and hard working professionals. In addition, our stakeholders always want more, so prioritizing is key in order to avoid doing many projects, but half heartedly. As mother of two wonderful teenagers, I enjoy to live with my family in the North-Brabant region, were quality of life is very good: the medieval city of Den Bosch and the nature of the Van Gogh National Park at my doorstep.

How many people are part of Visit Brabant's team and what is the main focus of your organisation?

The VisitBrabant team consists of 12 regular staff members. Another 10 to 20 collegues work on top of that in flexible projects with temporary assignments and with often more specialised expertise. The main focus of our organisation is to market the region Norh-Brabant as a touristic destination in order to attract more visitors from abroad.

Tell us a little bit more about Visit Brabant's first international campaign - BrabantNacht?

Our international campaign BrabantNacht is a collaboration of 8 leisure-hotspots in Brabant together with VisitBrabant. On 17 September these locations offered exciting arrangements for tourists and influencers at night time. In the months before and after this Brabant night, we executed an extensive campaign: digital and out of home. The core-strategy in the whole campaign is a focus on user-generated content.

What vision and ambition does Visit Brabant have to attract interest in international markets?

Our ambition is to attract more visitors from abroad. We try to achieve this along two strategical lines: by sharing stories and experiences of locals and visitors. And to market our regional icons which are internationally well known, such as Dutch Design and Vincent Van Gogh. Our vison: dare to chose!

How did Visit Brabant work with influencers and visitors to tell unique behind the scenes stories of BrabantNacht?

We invited influencers with specific interests for specific arrangements, so tailor made on the themes they usually work with. Other visitors were invited to buy tickets or to win them. For that part we put in place an activation campaign.

Visit Brabant managed to raise an impressive campaign budget and secured investments from leisure partners and four major cities. How did Visit Brabant manage to secure buy-in for the campaign?

We managed to involve 8 leisure-locations which contributed in cash and in kind to the campaign. With all of these partners we already worked for the last two years in sharing our strategies and knowledge, so we were already well connected. Right from the start almost all partners were enthousiastic, so we believe this campaign answered to a mutual need.

In your opinion, what can other destinations learn from Visit Brabant's first international campaign? What lessons did you learn in the process?

Working together with the main locations in your region is the only way to make sure that your stakeholders really feel the success of the campaign. You need to share the struggle in order to share the fun!

Why should DMOs not miss your talk at #DTTT Global?

I will tell many more lessons learned through our journey as a DMO at #DTTT Global.

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