Biz Blog Profile Series: Real People Real Road Trips - PA Tourism Office

08/16/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Hipsters, Hogs, Vultures, Thrill Seekers and History Buffs. Nope, it's not an MTV reality show ... but you're close. It's real tourists blogging their travels around the great state of Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylania Tourism Office launched a series of customer-written blogs this summer -  Real People Real Road Trips. Videos were included and comments opened. Innovative use of the medium to provide a 3-dimensional experience of the product. Thanks to David Gong,  Ripple Effects Interactive, for his help with this case.

Biz Blog Profile
: Real People Real Road Trips

Pa_tourism

About the Pennsylviania Tourism Office

The Pennsylviania Tourism Office is dedicated to fulfilling the needs and aspirations of travelers by presenting them with the information and resources they need to plan and enjoy the activities, attractions and destinations that are uniquely Pennsylviania.

Why the Pennsylviania Tourism Office is Blogging

Blogging has become one of the most popular forms of online communications, because it's often transparent and authentic. Blogs provide the ideal outlet to have a direct and unfiltered conversation with an audience. The PA Tourism Office was interested in using user-generated comments on its site, allowing visitors - actual tourists - to share their views and tell their stories in voices that are natural and authentic.

The goal was to allow users to contribute content not just consume it. Instead of professional marketing copy, PA wanted to use its website to open an exchange of travel ideas so that consumers could share experiences, offer advice, and recommend trips to other people/tourists/visitors.

The roadtrippers - who are real people not spokes models - have passions that match the interests of PA's targeted audiences:
-outdoor adventure
-history and heritage
-culture and entertainment
-amusement parks
-motorcycling

An additional goal is to position Pennsylvania as a pioneer in the interactive medium.

How Blogs Fit into the Pennsylvania Tourims Office's Marketing Strategies

The PA Tourism Office understood storytelling is one of the most effective ways to showcase PA's unique and athentic attractions. Blogging was a natural extension of a marketing strategy that focused on storytelling.

The ultimate objective of the blog was to attract tourists to the state. By giving potential tourists stories of real people (told by real people) with interests similar to their own, and their adventures in PA, the state believeed many will be motivated to visit and experience what PA has to offer.

In addition, the roadtripper bloggers extended the Ready-Get-Go brand promise - fun, spontaneity, an adventure around every corner, the journey is as fun as the destination - to a promotion that allowed real people to experience these first hand and allow others to relive them.

Selling-in To Management

The main challenge for Pennsylvania Tourism Office's agency, Ripple Effects Interactive, was making PA Tourism Office comfortable with the freedom variables involved in hosting bloggers. Once PA Tourism was satisfied that a minimum level of direction and control would be maintained over the campaign, it was very much behind the project.

How The Pennsylvania Toursim Office is Marketing  Real People Real Road Trips

The marketing strategy was rich and diversifed including both online and offline tactics. Two 15-second Real People commercials ran on cable in PA and contiguous states. Rich media Roadtrip blogger online video banners were included on sites such as accuweather.com, WashPost.com and NYTimes.com. Keywords were purchased on search engines such as Google and Yahoo!. Press releases went out on the wire and to selected publications. There was an on-going media relations effect to reach out to strategic bloggers to build momentum in the blogosphere.

Lessons Learned

The selection of future roadtrippers will likely be more open to the general public. For the sake of the speed to launch, the casting call for this round of roadtrippers was limited to acquantancs and word-of-mouth from the various promotional agencies involved.

Future Directions

Without a doubt, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office will continue to explore the strategic avenues possible with having visitors submit their own stories to the site, whether it is future bloggers or some other form of user-generated content.

Sidebar: The Pennsylvania Tourism Office's next innovative project is podcast tours. Cool!

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Comments

Great! How do I sign up? Ha! I love to hike & bike and would love to tell my stories online. Pennsylvania is close to me because I live just over the border in up-state New York. Does anyone know if there will be another casting call for fall or next spring?

Posted by: Susan B on Aug 16, 2005 1:22:42 PM

NICE!

Posted by: alex on Aug 16, 2005 3:21:39 PM

Susan, there will indeed be an open casting call for next year's road trippers. You can sign up to be notified about the call at http://www.visitpa.com/visitpa/roadTrippers.pa. The link is bit hard to find right now (2nd paragraph), but we will make it more prominent on the VisitPA.com home page in the coming weeks. We're glad you're interested, and hope that this year's road trip blogs gave you some ideas for your travels!

Posted by: David on Aug 17, 2005 10:15:49 AM

Great idea! Who would have thought such a tremendous idea would come from such a source!

Posted by: Evan on Jun 23, 2006 12:18:16 AM

I would also love to sign up. I loce to ski and snowboard in Pennsylvania. I spend about 40 days a winter at 7 springs and Hiddne Valley resort in the Laurel highlands of Pennsylvania.

Posted by: Pennsylvania Vacation Guide on Sep 4, 2006 9:49:58 PM

Great idea! You could add a portion to the blog that deals with experiences in the cities of Pennsylvania. Surely people who have visited your heritage sites would have a lot to say about things to do and the great ambiance of your cities!

Posted by: Judy Morley on Jan 25, 2007 2:54:20 PM

Thank you for the excellent article, and the good advice

Posted by: mikael christiansen on Nov 5, 2008 7:39:55 AM

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