The overarching objective behind this campaign was to create awareness in a key target market for the southern Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao by capitalizing on the established influence of a partner. In order to create awareness among consumers in the northeast (a top source market for the island) and among those who seek meaningful travel experiences, the Curaçao Tourist Board looked for a partner with a strong social media presence across not just one, but multiple platforms (i.e. Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter) to garner the most ROI, and one that aligned with Curaçao's niche markets.
While we understand that today's influencers are the new advertising with strong word-of-mouth power, and subsequently often have fees associated with their partnerships, the task at hand was to create an alliance without any cost beyond those involved with hosting a trip to provide an experience to the influencer.
The campaign was to tie in with the island's overarching goal of promoting the destination as an ideal winter escape from the northeast with its captivating beaches, unique mixture of cultures and unexpected European charm.
As Curaçao sees a large percentage of its arrivals via direct airlift from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and has a non-stop flight from JFK to promote, agency researched top media outlets with strong influence nationally, but also specifically in New York. Agency identified Refinery29 as a strong potential partner given the outlet's proven social media presence (more than 1M and 979K followers on Twitter and Instagram, respectively) and a solid readership base of on-trend New York women in their 20's, 30's and 40's.
Agency reached out to and successfully pitched Refinery29's photo editor and social media manager (the latter of which is an influencer in her own right with more than 42K Instagram followers) on the potential appeal of Curaçao to their followers based on its undiscovered landscape, experiences and people.
Agency then collaborated with the island's private and public tourism partners to identify accommodations, transportation, meals and activities that would create a unique experience to showcased the destination's beautiful topography, stunning views, authentic people and unique culture.
Additionally, agency secured a separate partnership with JetBlue to provide the flights on a complimentary basis - thus eliminating all the hard costs involved.
Identifying the right partner was the first component, but the right timing was crucial. While the trip took place in October 2015, instead of having the resulting social exposure all post at that time, agreements were made with the outlet that several postings would be held for later in the winter season, when the northeast was at its cold weather peak and consumers were more than ready for and receptive to a Caribbean escape.
Subsequently, it was agreed that in exchange for a three-night Curaçao experience, the partnership would provide:
1. A minimum of one Instagram photo to the @Refinery29 account during their trip, but more importantly, it was to be followed by four #TBT posts in January - March 2016 to tap into New Yorkers looking for warm-weather getaways during the frigid winter months.
2. At least one tweet on the Refinery29 account.
3. A minimum of one Snapchat story for Refinery29.
4. 2-3 posts per day on the participants' personal Instagram accounts.
The trip was a complete success garnering 31 posts to date vs the agreed upon one per platform, with more scheduled to appear by the end of March.
Refinery29's social representatives captured their unique experiences on the island of Curaçao, being sure to incorporate relevant hashtags and geo-tags when applicable.
Refinery29's Instagram post generated more than 5K+ likes each, averaging 55-118 comments, while each photo of the 57 included on their Snapchat story generated an average of 2K+ views.
Additionally, the social media director posted 14 Instagram posts to her personal account (with 42K followers), which generated an average of 350-500 likes per photo.