Being the Hotel Tell-All has its perks. Not only do we get to visit, review and photograph destinations around the world, but we get to meet with the folks promoting these places -- specifically, the (awesome!) destination marketing organizations, commonly referred to as DMOs. To make a location stand out, it's vital for DMOs to get unique with their marketing tactics. We checked in with Oyster's VP of Destination Marketing, Jim Brody, to find out the five of the best stunts he's seen his in 18-year career in the industry.
1. Banff-Lake Louise Tourism's Twitter Squirrel
Every DMO is on Twitter, tweeting award announcements, press release nuggets, cool facts, and re-tweeting everybody who mentions them, naturally. The Banff, Canada DMO took it to a whole new level with the Banff Squirrel (@banff_squirrel). The squirrel, who has over 10,000 followers, is a real celebrity character – it engages with followers and even other "animals" on Twitter, and offers helpful info along with a terrific sense of humor.
2. Austria's Pop-Up "Country" in NYC
The pop-up (or temporary) exhibition has become a staple of destination marketing -- it's a great way for prospective visitors to experience a place without having to step on a plane. For years now, there have been pop-up restaurants, exhibits at festivals, temporary shops, and more. But Austria took the notion of the "pop-up" even further in 2011 by literally creating a pop-up country in lower Manhattan. For two weeks, the "store" (complete with Austria-branded signage) allowed folks to experience some of Austria's highlights. It included interactive museum exhibits; coffee and tortes served from the famed Café Sacher; and -- most notably -- a replica of Gustav Klimt's masterpiece, "The Kiss." Visitors could get photographed with the painting, and blast their pics out to a variety of social networks.
3. Tourism Ireland's Facebook Game App
Everyone is on Facebook these days: In fact, 9 out of 10 users log on to the site weekly -- making it an ideal tool for a destination to highlight its unique features. Tourism Ireland does a great job with its Facebook page, doing much more than sharing photos, surveying visitors, and supporting business partners. The DMO created an in-page game, Ireland Town. Currently, The game has over 19,000 likes, and is a fun and competitive way for visitors to immerse themselves in all things Ireland, including its culture, history, geography, and attractions.
4. Experience Bathurst's Personalized YouTube Video Channel
When you're small, you need to think outside the box to attract attention. This tiny, bilingual destination in New Brunswick, Canada has developed its own version of a YouTube travel series. Every Tuesday, hosts Meredith and Monique share something to do in Bathurst – and they banter in both English and French (each official languages) for a twist on tradition. One host speaks English, the other French, and the series is not subtitled or dubbed; the hosts don't even translate one other. Despite the plausible language barrier, Meredith and Monique make you want to visit Bathurst ASAP. The ladies have even created promo videos for their series complete with a running laugh track.
5. Miami's Pop-Up Pool in NYC
OK, so this may not have happened yet, but we're sure it's going to be epic (and expensive to execute, if nothing else): Miami is setting up a pop-up pool in New York's Union Square. No one will actually be allowed to swim in the pool (as the Huffington Post wrote, it's kind of like "letting someone look at ice cream, without actually having them eat it,") but Gothamist has found out that the pop-up will include "sexy, chic pool deck with bikini clad models, palm trees, cabanas, DJs spinning, and six hours of fun in the sun." We're definitely interested to see how this one plays out -- and if it pays off.