New York State has an almost endless array of attractions, experiences and unique offerings. One of the state's best kept secrets is the Catskills Region, located just two hours outside of New York City by car, and home to some of the most beautiful mountains, views and attractions in the world.
In 2016, GLOW partnered with I LOVE NEW YORK, Visit the Catskills, local county tourism offices and Beautiful Destinations to promote the area as the ultimate fall destination for singles and couples residing in the New York City metro area. The Catskills have been experiencing a renaissance with charming country inns, hip farm-to-table eateries, bespoke country stores, breweries, and distilleries popping up in idyllic villages across the region, but many city residents still have dated perceptions of the area. Our goal was to show them that the area is full of adventure with a diverse array of attractions offering something for every travel style – whether it's the adrenaline junkie interested in mountain sports or a couple looking for a romantic getaway, and everything in between.
Our objective in partnering with travel and lifestyle brand Beautiful Destinations was to show the Catskills through the eyes of influential content creators, leveraging their huge social following to expand reach and pique interest among travel enthusiasts, ultimately inspiring travel to the region.
I LOVE NEW YORK and GLOW identified an opportunity to connect with consumers and inspire travel to the Catskills during the Fall season. By partnering with Beautiful Destination, a strategic campaign was developed to leverage the social influence of their content creators to reach our target demographic and a content aesthetic that would perform at top levels across I LOVE NEW YORK's social channels.
The content creators were sent to the Catskills to capture photo, video and real-time social content using the latest drone and 360 degree camera technology. The content was then published across Beautiful Destinations, I LOVE NEW YORK, Visit the Catskills and the Catskills County Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube accounts. Though our strategy was to use a breadth of channels to ensure that we reach our audience wherever they happen to be, our execution leveraged specific platform features to maximize each channel – such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories, Facebook Live and 360, and native video posts.
Using insights from past campaigns, we positioned the content to capture the activities that we knew would draw our target audience. The content created a comprehensive story of a journey to the Catskills producing a holistic campaign of visual storytelling on social, which was elevated with paid support. From a 360 POV video that put our audience directly into the middle of a fast-paced ride on America's longest and fastest zipline, to an Instagram Story spent hiking along a magnificent 300-foot waterfall and videos that let viewers experience a scenic train ride through the Catskills' epic fall foliage, the campaign content gave social audiences a real feel for what their own Catskills adventures might be like.
Launching the content on Beautiful Destinations brand and creator channels with a push to I LOVE NEW YORK and Catskills regional and county accounts allowed us to leverage new audiences and to tell a deeper story for those who wanted to explore more. By encouraging social conversations, we were able to start a dialogue around travel to the Catskills with users tagging their friends and, in some cases, beginning the trip planning process directly in the comments.
I LOVE NEW YORK and GLOW's Catskills Fall 2016 campaign proved to be a success, as it increased brand awareness and resulted in tangible travel results.
In total, the campaign achieved 27 million engagements across all social platforms. It increased social awareness for the Catskills on I LOVE NEW YORK's Facebook page with 16 million impressions being logged in October 2016, a year-over-year increase of 400% compared to October 2015. Through the Beautiful Destinations social accounts, the campaign reached over 13 million additional people.
The activity resulted in a "halo effect" on I LOVE NEW YORK's Instagram accounts with an average 1,756 per week follower growth in October 2016 compared to 272 average per week follower growth in October 2015, a 545.5% increase year-over-year.
Monthly engagements for I LOVE NEW YORK grew to 111,204 monthly engagements during October 2016 compared to 16,482 monthly engagements in October 2015, an impressive 574.7% increase year-over-year.
Most importantly, the campaign drove travel. Google searches for the Catskills directly following the fall campaign rose by 32%. Using geo-tags on Instagram, Beautiful Destinations was able to identify that users who engaged with campaign content on the platform not only traveled to the Catskills during the Fall, but also became advocates by sharing their own travel photos to Instagram.
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