Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How do you promote a tourist destination in time of recession? By linking it to a global job hunt!

To promote their Great Barrier Reef, Tourism Queensland launched in January 2009 a highly successful marketing campaign to get media exposure. They announced that they were looking for a caretaker for the Great Barrier Reef. Job applicants were cordially invited to apply for their Barrier Reef “dream job”.

According to the especially created website www.islandreefjob.com, the “best job in the world” is Island Caretaker, living on the Hamilton Island. The job is for 6 months, with a salary of Euro 10,000. The real work is to create weekly blogs, keep a photo diary, make video updates and conduct ongoing media interviews to promote “the wondrous Islands of the Great Barrier Reef”.

With wonderful tongue-in-cheek humor, additional duties are listed as: feed the fish (since there are over 1,500 species living there, they pretty much feed each other), clean the pool (an automatic filter is in place) and collect the mail (by joining the aerial postal service).Applicants were invited to apply by sending video – close to 35,000 respondents from 200 countries followed up. To make sure that the videos were not boring, the advertising agency (CumminsNitro in Brisbane responsible for the campaign) posted a (fake) video showing “Tegan” (one of their employees) getting a tattoo of the Great Barrier Reef to show her devotion to the tourist destination.

The focus will now turn to short-listing the Top 50, which will be announced on the Island Dream Job website on Tuesday, March 3. The Top 50 will be narrowed down to a final 11. In a clever marketing gimmick, 10 candidates will be short listed by Tourism Queensland, while an 11th 'wild card' applicant will be chosen by popular vote, thus guaranteeing ongoing media coverage. These eleven applicants will be flying to Hamilton Island in early May 2009 to take part in the final selection process. The final selection will be announced on May 6.

The applicants neatly represent the targeted tourist population. The highest number of applicants came from the United States, followed by Canada, Great Britain and Australia. Applicants are all ages, nationalities and come from all walks of life – including writers, tour guides, marine biologists, environmentalists, students, bloggers, mums and dads and retirees and celebrities such as an Amazing Race winner, a New Zealand travel show host and a former Young Australian of the Year.The main question remains if the costs justify the results.

One this is already clear – it put Hamilton Island firmly on the (media) world map

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