Expedia Turns to Twitter to Promote Netherlands Tourism

Expedia and the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC) are looking to Twitter to help promote the country’s many attractions to British, French, and German travelers and in turn boost social engagement among that demographic. 

As part of the campaign, dubbed #VanGogh2015, for the next six weeks Expedia’s Twitter accounts in each of those countries will feature six of Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpieces, commemorating the 125th anniversary of the painter’s death. Tweets from the brand will direct users to a landing page where the travel site is utilizing Twitter’s Flock to Unlock feature, in which users can unlock exclusive content by retweeting.

Each retweet represents a brushstroke; with each one, the image becomes clearer. After a predetermined number of retweets – it will vary, depending on the year of each painting’s completion – a painting is revealed and all retweeters will be entered to win a trip for two to the Netherlands.

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“If you look at Holland, it’s tiny,” says Angelique Miller, global director of creative partnerships at Expedia Media Solutions. “Most people see Holland as Amsterdam and not anything else, but we wanted to make sure we told that cultural and art part of [the country’s] story, so people see that it’s about more than just going to Amsterdam and having a fun time. We’re really trying to expand people’s horizons.”

Some of the NBTC’s activities highlighting life beyond Amsterdam include visits to Van Gogh’s Brabant home, cycling routes such as the path that inspired “Starry Night,” and exhibitions and festivals throughout the country.

Miller hopes that showcasing six paintings – and therefore, giving away six trips – will increase engagement among consumers. Bob Cargill, social media director at Overdrive Interactive, agrees that it’s a solid strategy.

“This campaign is playing perfectly to the power of the crowd,” he says. “A critical mass of people has to Flock to Unlock for any one participant to win, giving those who participate more than enough reason to urge their followers to get involved, too.”

Cargill appreciates the mix of tried-and-true marketing tactics, such as the prize, with the live clock counting down the minutes until the next masterpiece is revealed, as well as Expedia’s attention to detail.

“The palette, the paintbrush, and easel graph used to measure the number of cumulative tweets – very clever,” he says.

The campaign will have a content marketing component as well: Expedia’s blog features posts by travel writers going beyond Amsterdam, covering smaller, lesser-known Dutch cities such as Arnhem and Zwolle. But social media will be the centerpiece of the campaign because it’s so intertwined with travel, in Miller’s opinion.

“We think about it almost like currency,” she says. “When you go someplace, the first thing you want to do is brag to everyone where you are on social media. We make sure to tap into it.”

Since launching yesterday, #VanGogh2015’s first painting – currently a bunch of squares in earth tones – is about two-thirds unveiled. The campaign will go on through April 12.

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