If travel media and influencers can't experience your destination or travel product directly, you can still give them a good impression of what your brand is all about by hosting a brand activation. During an experiential marketing and networking event, impressions are what encourage organic sharing and coverage. Here are some simple ways you can design a travel brand activation that will delight travel media and influencers while also raising awareness of your brand among the consumers who follow them.
Brand, Brand, Brand
Your work to make an event something your audience wants to share on social begins way before the invitations are sent out. To ensure your event gets the exposure it deserves, your organization’s social handles need to be all over welcome signage and smaller placards around the venue. This means making sure your short, catchy event hashtag is visible alongside your social handles so that it’s easy for your audience to remember to include it in their social shares. This helps make it easy for you to track results when your event is over, too.
A Venue With A View
The location of any event is key. Pick a place that’s too small and guests will be talking over one another. Pick a place that’s too big and you run the risk of looking like you have a low turnout. The perfect venue has enough space for everyone to move around, places to sit, high top tables for drinks, and room for whatever other activities you have planned (more on this below). If you don’t have a budget for activities, pick a venue with a view so that your guests will have something visual to share with their audience.
Eye-Catching Food and Beverage
Emotional connections to destinations leave lasting impressions. At a travel brand activation, the time you have in which to make that connection happen is extremely limited. What better way to speed up the process than through food?
Visit Guadalajara flew in two chefs from the city to perform live cooking demonstrations. The crowd was captivated. The chefs also made sure the audience was able to taste all of their creations as passed hors d'oeuvres. It made for great Instagram Story content.
A signature cocktail is another excellent way to feature a local distillery or brewery. At an event hosted by the Dominican Republic, bartenders served up colorful passion fruit mojitos, highlighting the tropical fruit flavors the Caribbean island is synonymous with.
A F.O.M.O. Inducing Activity
When you want travel media and influencers to attend your event and also want them to talk about it on social media, it helps to have some kind of activity for guests to experience together so that they can generate content. The Dominican Republic hosted a luncheon just before the The New York Times Travel Show. It was strategically timed for when most travel media are in town. On a bitterly cold New York City winter’s day, they planned a tropical island-themed day of pampering in order to make their guests feel like they were taking a day trip to the Caribbean. Complimentary spray tan and manicure stations were setup to help get guests "beach-ready".
A (No Pressure) Photo Booth
The easier it is to work a photo booth, the more guests will engage with it. Smilebooth provides a sleek and simple setup: an iPad with a light ring around it. The Dominican Republic chose a photo backdrop filled with gorgeous plants and flowers which captured guests’ attention as soon as they walked in the room. The photo booth was a hit, as a result.
A Thoughtful Giveaway and/or Door Gift
A trip giveaway motivate influencers and media to participate in your event, but that’s not the only prize your audience is interested in. Pair up with local hotels and/or tour operators if the cost of a full trip is out of your budget. If it’s a blogger or influencer who wins, they're excited about the publicity winning the trip or product will bring for their own brand, too.
A gift bag handed out upon exit is another way to leave a positive impression with your guests. Forget the sales brochures and USB sticks: they almost always end up in the trash. The Dominican Republic’s gift bag included coffee beans sourced from producers in the Dominican Republic, as well as, products that fit the “beach-ready” event theme, including O.P.I. nail polish (with tropical names and the same colors as their manicure station), chocolate bars (from a Brooklyn chocolatier who uses cocoa from the Dominican Republic), lip balm, etc.
Encouraging and cross-posting user-generated content will give your brand (or a specific campaign) an extra boost of publicity. Engage with your guests on social media during the event and over the course of the next few days. Be sure to follow up with your attendees by email within the days following your event, thanking them for their participation.