This interview and article was originally published in Spanish by Maria Eugenía Coppola in April 2017.
When researching Millennials, Airbnb revealed that most prioritized travel over purchasing a home, getting a car, or paying off debt. They're also the largest living generation right now, which means they're crucial to consider as a destination marketing organisation or travel experience provider.
In December 2016, Visit Norway launched the campaign "5 friends on a Road Trip in Norway" on YouTube to attract millennial travellers. Since then, it has had 6 million views in English and Spanish combined and is still featured on the destination website.
Here, we'll share our interview with Eugenia Fierros, Tourism Manager for Spain at Innovation Norway. In this chat with Eugenia, we dig deeper into Visit Norway's marketing campaign to understand their strategy, keys to success, and challenges.
What do you consider key to making Visit Norway an inspiring and attractive brand?
Eugenia Fierros: The key for us is to have a well-defined brand and to always act and communicate consistently. We want there to be no difference between what we transmit as a brand and how the visitor perceives us when they travel to Norway. This is especially important today, when every visitor is an "influencer" and transmitter of our brand.
It's important that a visitor's experience in-destination is completely in line with what we have transmitted and what they expect from Norway.
We rely on what sets Norway apart from other destinations: nature. We also focus on creating stories enriched with the values that are important to different types of visitors. This allows us to create a customised message for each type of visitor. Although what distinguishes Norway is its nature, we don't tell the same story to someone interested in nature and another person interested in gastronomy.
New technology enables this level of personalisation and allows us to bring our brand closer to each traveller. The challenge is to always be faithful to our brand values and adapt to each type of visitor who is interested (or potentially interested) in our destination.
So in summary, for Visit Norway to be an inspiring and attractive brand, the key is to keep our communication focused on the visitor's experience.
Photo: lenanarvik/Foap/ VisitNorway.com
What are the main challenges facing the Norwegian Tourism Office today?
The main challenge is data management. As I said before, technology allows us to reach each individual visitor with the most relevant message for them... but the challenge is technology. It's to really know what data we have, both our own and externally, and manage them in an efficient way.
The second challenge is with media. The media world is increasingly fragmented. This can be an opportunity in that it allows us to specialize and do niche communication, but at the same time it is a great challenge.
What role do experiences play in your strategy?
A very important role. At Visit Norway, we are working increasingly often with content and experiences. These are essential for generating emotional responses. To communicate our experiences, we need to tell stories that the listener or reader feels close to. Visit Norway's strategy is more and more frequently about creating stories and content with a different tone and content depending on who we are addressing. We do this on our website, in our advertising (using more branded content), and on social media.
Learn more about marketing experiences in our free research report:
How important are online platforms when it comes to positioning and promoting Norway as a tourist destination? And what about offline?
Online platforms have all the weight in our marketing strategy. The main reason is that the vast majority of our visitors go online to get inspired, research a destination, book, and later share their experiences. Also, online communication enables maximum segmentation, which means a more efficient investment and a higher ROI.
Another big advantage of digital platforms is the possibility of measuring absolutely everything that we do. This gives us the capacity to be very flexible and react very quickly to improve the efficiency of a campaign. For example, if one channel or piece of content works significantly better than another, we can quickly adjust our strategy.
But we cannot ignore offline channels. They are also very important. The ideal situation would be to impact the visitor through different channels according to the moment of the customer journey they are in, but unfortunately our budget doesn't allow us to be on offline channels. We'd love to be on television and abroad for instance.
Aksla viewpoint, Ålesund.Photo: Samuel Taipale / VisitNorway.com
What are the objectives behind the "5 friends on a Road Trip in Norway" campaign?
The main objective has been to reach an audience that we haven't been able to reach before: Millennials. Historically, in the Spanish market, Norway was a destination for mature generations and associated as expensive.
We have spent years transmitting the values of Norway as an ideal destination to enjoy nature in an active way, and the type of tourism has changed. However, we have continued to address the same target audience that we have always considered "our" target for purchasing power and interests.
Everything was going well. We have been growing for several years. But we have realised that we were not looking to the future... almost not looking to the present. The present is Millennials, and Norway is a destination that perfectly fits the way of travelling and travel aspirations for a part of this generation.
For this reason, in summer 2016 we decided that we had to address them. Communicate with them. Adapt to their way of travelling and communicating. And we did that. We filmed a video of a totally different style to all that we had previously recorded. We chose actors with whom this generation would identify and we showed them your Norway through a road trip with friends. Telling a story and using music from an artist popular with Millennials in Norway and also Spain, Kygo. We made a campaign using only YouTube as a channel, since that's where they consume audiovisual content. And we segment the audience as much as possible in terms of age, geography and interests.
What results have you achieved so far?
[As of April 2018] the Spanish version has had over 1 million views and is still featured on the destination website, which is a number that we have never achieved before now. And on an international level, the campaign has had six million views in total.
What do you think have been the keys to success of this campaign?
The main key to success is that we have identified ourselves with our target. We have spoken to them using their language, through people of their age and style and music they like. For the production of the video we have worked with people from their generation instead of a more traditional production company.
Another key has been reaching Millennials where they mainly consume content: on YouTube.
Get more insights into the current travel landscape and key markets in our Travel Trends Report 2018:
Would you say that budgets are an obstacle when it comes to creating marketing campaigns for successful destinations?
There is no doubt that money helps. Although nowadays, if you have a really exceptional idea and you can use it to connect with your audience, you can get this audience to act as a transmitter for the campaign at a fraction of the cost. But you have to consider that this isn't easy and there are not many successful cases like this.
Photo credits: CH - VisitNorway.com
Could you mention three online marketing campaigns from other destinations that you have found particularly inspiring?
In your opinion, how important is it for visitors of Visit Norway.com to book experiences online once they have fallen in love with the destination?
It's vital. It's essential that if someone goes on the Visit Norway site to get inspired, they can book very easily. If we lose the visitor at this moment, they may change their mind and eventually visit another destination instead. The immediacy is fundamental.
Do you provide any kind of training or information for tour and activity operators in Norway on the importance of being able to book their experiences online?
At Innovation Norway, there is a department dedicated to training the Norwegian sector. Digitalisation is of course encouraged so that tourism products are easily accessible and bookable for any traveller in the world.
What advice, based on your experience, would you give to other tourist offices that want to remain digitally relevant?
The most important thing is to communicate in the most personal way possible. Although it may seem contradictory, the digital space allows us to reach each person with the right message and offer at the right time.
If, with good use of technology, we get that knowledge of our clients and potential clients, we will communicate in a relevant, effective and profitable way. We will be able to inspire emotional responses and sell our experiences.
Visit Norway is a great example of a DMO that has adapted its marketing strategy to remain relevant in the digital age, especially when it comes to attracting millennial visitors. Here at TrekkSoft, we're working closely with several leading travel destinations, including Norway's Fjord region which now has 100+ suppliers using TrekkSoft booking software.
For more tips on remaining relevant to visitors as a tour company or destination, get personalized guidance from our team at TrekkSoft:
Published by Lucy Fuggle
Lucy is Head of Content Marketing at TrekkSoft. She tries to read a book a week, travel solo every month, and share ideas on lucyfuggle.com. You can usually find her in Switzerland's Berner Oberland.