In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and María hit Puerto Rico in quick succession, leaving the island in bad shape. Even as recovery efforts progressed months after, the coverage of major media outlets expectedly skewed to the negative side of the spectrum. As the island was getting ready to welcome tourists once again, there still were misinformation and myths about the conditions of many of our attractions, including beaches, gastronomy, and nightlife.
This misinformation spread throughout all media, but was particularly pervasive on social media. Facebook, our main digital driver of user engagement, wasn't immune from this. Thousands of posts and comments painted a dire picture of our tourism offerings, even after many recovery efforts were completed.
We needed to prove to the world that we were ready to welcome visitors once again and enchant them as we've been doing for years.
Our primary objective was to change new and existing consumer perceptions, especially on Facebook, regarding the status of Puerto Rico after the hurricanes, and create awareness about the local holiday season that was about to start.
We needed to disrupt the conversation and respond to social media questions gathered through listening, with undisputable facts about the destination, in the most engaging way possible.
We developed a cross-channel Facebook campaign to convey that Puerto Rico, above all else, was ready for tourism. We partnered with international, Latin Grammy-winning pop star with Luis Fonsi, a Puerto Rican native, as our global ambassador and used his hit song "Despacito" as a backdrop to showcase why tourists should come and stay in Puerto Rico. He starred in a series of videos, all of which reinforced the readiness of the island through a consistent message: "We are Ready". Each of the videos highlighted key aspects of our main tourism strengths: beaches, nightlife, food, and adventure. The video series was deployed across all Facebook video ad formats.
We took advantage of the global momentum, relevance, and reach of Fonsi, right at the peak of the wave made by his hit song "Despacito". He helped us nano-target myths that were being circulated through Facebook about our main tourism attractions. The resulting videos turned our entire Island into a visual product so that potential visitors could see every touch point. Our creative approach and executions helped the audience embrace the "seeing is believing" mentality, driven by a global influencer who had over 5 billion views on YouTube having a great time on an island that just weeks ago was classified as destroyed.
We then created several video ads in which Luis Fonsi went on a myth-busting trip around the island, highlighting popular tourism attractions and experiences.
Thanks to this Facebook campaign, we achieved a 25-point lift in travel consideration, a 19-point lift in travel destination rating, and a 15-point lift in ad recall.
Coupled with efforts made in other digital channels such as programmatic ads and native advertising, we also saw a 66% increase in tourist perception of our readiness to welcome them.
Just six months after Hurricane María ravaged the island,Puerto Rico experienced a spring tourism boom. Tourists flocked to the island for Easter, Passover and Spring Break vacations in record numbers. Many hotels reported operated at or near 100% occupancy during the holiday weekend that began after the hurricane season.
The effort was selected as a model Success Story in the Facebook Business platform.