A marketing campaign by Visit Faroe Islands launched on April 15, 2020.
Challenge / background
Many people were forced to cancel or postpone their trip to the Faroe Islands in early 2020 because of Covid-related travel restrictions. At Visit Faroe Islands, we felt it was important to reach out to this group of people; to communicate that we were sorry they couldn’t make it, that we hoped they would return when travel was allowed again, and to provide some respite during the dullness of lockdown.
We created Remote Tourism to allow people to ‘visit’ the Faroe Islands through the eyes, ears and body of a Faroese local. Virtual visitors were able to control the actions of the guide using a digital remote controller on a PC, tablet or phone, providing real-time instructions such as ‘left’, ‘right’, ‘forward’, ‘jump’ or ‘run’. Others could follow along during the tour as the guide provided front-row views of spectacular landscapes and interesting stories about each location.
The campaign would give those unable to travel to the Faroe Islands because of Covid travel restrictions a chance to ‘visit’ the islands, nonetheless. The idea was also to whet the
appetite of others to visit the Faroe Islands. Additionally, we wanted to stay fresh in the minds of people and in that way help our local tourism industry by continuing to promote our destination.
The direct audience was everyone that had to cancel or postpone their trip, but if our earned media strategy was successful, we knew we would be able to reach a wider global audience.
The timeframe from idea to launch was 10 days. We knew we had to work quickly. In April 2020, no one knew how the Covid pandemic would develop and there was a risk that other DMOs would do something similar. This would most certainly ruin our campaign, as the international press would most likely not write about a second live-tour campaign.
We built the complicated controller system, produced the press kit and trained guides (which were all staff at Visit Faroe Islands) in the space of ten days. We worked closely with PR agencies in the UK, USA and Denmark which helped spread word of the campaign to relevant media. We invited the press on a special press tour one day before we launched to the
public, allowing all press to try the tour themselves and prepare their articles and TV reports.
When we launched the tours to the public, we started with two tours a day for the first few days. We then reduced the number of tours to one per day, and then one per week during the two months of the campaign. Our last tour was on the same day the Faroe Islands lifted its travel restrictions in June 2020. We chose different locations across the country – outdoor and indoor – providing virtual visitors with a broad range of views and experiences.
The campaign was talked about in 549 pieces of coverage (including in many of the world’s leading media, such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, CNN, CBS Morning Show, The Washington Post, etc), with an online readership of 5.65 billion. Estimated coverage views were 17.4 million, broadcast viewership 24.6 million and the social media reach was 40.5 million. Our media budget was 0.
By reaching this level of earned media, we were able to spread the word to people all over the world. Over 700,000 people took one or more of the 22 tours, which is approximately 5 times the number of tourists that visited in-person in all of 2019.
The local tourism industry played its part by embracing the campaign and sharing it with its audiences. Once the islands opened for tourism in mid-June, the number of tourists to visit was surprisingly high compared to forecasts made in the preceding months.
Watch the campaign film here: https://vimeo.com/406548886.