Expedia Teams Up With Twitter, Holland To Help ‘Van Gogh’ Take Flight

HollandIt’s been 125 years since the death of famed Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, and Holland is going all out.

With a yearlong commemoration of the post-impressionist painter just underway, the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC) hopes to drive awareness for Amsterdam, but particularly the less-frequented destinations in Holland like Gelderland and Brabant.

Many individual regions will take part in the initiative, which will include supplemental live event, traditional and digital marketing efforts, but for the country’s initial campaign kickoff, it wanted to focus on reach.

The Dutch tourism board kicked off the process by educating tourists and art aficionados (targeting citizens from Germany, France and the UK) on the particularities of the region. In doing so, the NBTC sought the help of Expedia Media Solutions’ creative development division to help craft that strategy, and Twitter, to help it take flight.

“Our main objective is to create awareness and bring tourists to Holland, but we also want to drive bookings to our Van Gogh landing page, where we embedded a (travel) booking engine,” said Evelina Hederer, marketing project manager for the NBTC. “Expedia is a big part of our big consumer marketing initiative, and we aim to reach 1.6 million people.” 

Angelique Miller, Expedia Media Solutions’ global director of creative partnerships, said that while NBTC had an existing partnership with Twitter, Expedia wanted to look for ways to extend the campaign from just a static Twitter conversation to one that drove engagement with the Dutch tourism board.

“Historically we’ve been very tactical driving bookings through banner ads, but my department (in creative) taps in to different activations be it social, video or mobile,” Miller said. “We knew, in this particular case, we wanted to bring Van Gogh to life in a place other than our own or NBTC’s properties.”

Using Twitter’s “Flock to Unlock” feature, an advertiser can incentivize Twitter users to collectively tweet or retweet messages, thereby unlocking exclusive brand content. For NBTC’s campaign – which takes place once a week through April 12 – travelers can unlock brush strokes to reveal a Van Gogh painting and are entered into a drawing to win a trip for two to Holland.

In addition, Expedia is able to embed the Twitter widget along with tickers that display how many retweets are needed in order to unlock a brushstroke at travel booking points of sale.

van goghSince Expedia focused the initial engagement on Twitter around the hashtag #VanGogh2015, it needed to make sure it had content waiting for participants that hit the promotion’s microsite. Using its network of travel bloggers in Holland, it developed content for the Van Gogh microsite and Expedia blogs.

So far, engagement’s been strong, Miller said. In terms of its threshold of tweets, Expedia found users were unlocking portraits in about half the time projected (four instead of seven days), which indicates they’re engaging with more content.

In addition, average time spent per session is north of two minutes, which is a more valuable metric to the tourism board than, “Did we drive clicks?”

“We’re not thinking about this [in terms of] lead gen as much as we are engagement,” Miller said. “Because travel is so personal, and the first thing we do on social media is share a photo of a place that’s exotic or far away, we thought Flock to Unlock would be a great way to share content and bring people back to our content.”

Beyond social, Expedia Media’s exploring interactive video, mobile and virtual reality as new activation opportunities to tap into its audience of 78 million monthly uniques. “Video just makes sense to bring travel to life,” said Miller. “We’re really trying to push the envelope there with partners.”

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