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The resort that social media built: two innovative travel campaigns

June 3, 2014

(Published in TTG – 28.03.14)


Matthew Parsons gives the lowdown on creative uses of Facebook fans and bloggers from Club Med and TrekAmerica



Club Med Val Thorens

Using social media is often regarded as a brand building exercise – but Club Med is taking it a step further to literally help build a resort. Since January 27, it has been asking its Facebook fans to help design certain elements for its new 4T Val Thorens Snow Resort in France, which opens December 14.

It claims this venture marks the first ever “crowd-sourced resort” and it has sought feedback on elements including interior design, sporting facilities, entertainment features and more via an interactive app, called “My Val Thorens”.

So far, fans have said no to the resort’s proposal to add an “ice driving experience”, opting instead for “mountain biking on snow”, while also voting yes to an interior climbing wall.

Its fans across 13 countries are to be canvassed until May 1, before the official December opening.

The app also allows its users to explore the resort as they vote – with votes entering them into a number of prize draws. To further boost awareness of the resort, fans gain more votes by inviting their Facebook friends to take part in the app as well. An overall winner will be chosen on May 17, with a one-week holiday for two at the new resort in December up for grabs. Fifty runners-up will receive Club Med T-shirts.

Joy Lacana, Club Med agency sales manager for UK & Ireland, says it is the “most innovative campaign we’ve ever run”.

“It’s very captivating. Even for ourselves, we don’t know what’s coming up in the voting, so it’s interesting.

“It’s been a success – and so far Val Thorens is in our top five resorts in terms of sales for 2015.”

She adds that the interactive campaign may be replicated for another resort in the future.


Top blogger campaign

Meanwhile, TrekAmerica is midway through a new campaign that focuses on blogging, rather than Facebook, in a bid to build awareness of its brand among new audiences.

It launched #Blog4Trek earlier this year, and recruited three established bloggers to help it look for its own blogger for 2014. They are:

  • Monica Stott from The Travel Hack
  • Victoria Magrath from In the Frow
  • Rosie Tapping from A Rosie Outlook

They are currently shortlisting from a selection of bloggers, who were asked: “What you would pack for a weekend away?” The rules stated a word count of 250 to 300 words, and bloggers were urged to be “as creative as you can”, and “show off” photography and video as well as their writing skills.

Ten finalists have just been announced (see box), and for the second phase of the competition TrekAmerica is asking its finalists to send in their best photographs “that encapsulate the colours red, white and blue”.

The photos will then posted to TrekAmerica’s Facebook page, where the image with the most likes will get a free ticket to the last stage of the competition, while the other pictures will be put in front of the judging panel and another four photographs will be chosen for the final round – due to be announced soon.

As well as being an official 2014 blogger for TrekAmerica, the overall winner will also enjoy a free spot on the Westerner 2 tour, which will take them up the Pacific Coast, and to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks.

The campaign was been created alongside TrekAmerica’s PR agency, Fred Marketing, which Hayley Griffiths, senior marketing manager at TrekAmerica, says has a “proven track” in online PR.

“We are taking a leap. We wanted new ideas, to extend our social reach and engage bloggers – because people do trust them. We didn’t want a normal competition; TrekAmerica wanted to create a buzz online, and the company can harness the bloggers’ following.”

The judging bloggers do not represent typical TrekAmerica customers, and Griffiths claims that this would help put the brand in front of new audiences: “It’s about mixing different styles. Monica is about budget travel, inspiring but accessible. Victoria [a style and beauty blogger] actually travelled with us in 2013, and surprisingly enjoyed the camping element. Rosie is more about lifestyle.”

However, their ages do reflect the “bread and butter” market of 18-24. “We’ve always been a youth-orientated brand, and this bracket is the most active in the online space,” she adds.

Griffiths says the Club Med campaign to involve fans to create a resort is interesting, and that TrekAmerica, with its “open flow” dialogue with its own customers, already does something similar. “With our customers, we have various ways to feed into our product plan. We change depending on their needs every year,” she says.

While the #Blog4Trek campaign is more about brand building, it has already generated bookings that are directly attributable to some of the participating bloggers’ websites.

Investing in social media can often be a leap of faith, but as these two companies have shown, it can be a leap that also pays dividends.

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