Behind the Faroe Islands' Remote Tourism success
Many people were forced to cancel or postpone their trip to the Faroe Islands during spring 2020 due to COVID-related travel restrictions. At Visit Faroe Islands, the team felt it was important to reach out to this group of people; to communicate that they were sorry they couldn’t make it and that they would return when travel was allowed again.
Remote Tourism was created 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 the 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 make it because of travel restrictions a chance to ‘visit’ the island and to whet the appetite of others. The direct audience was everyone that had to cancel or postpone their trip, but if the earned media strategy was successful, the team knew that they would be able to reach a wider global audience.
Launching the strategy
The timeframe from idea to launch was 10 days. No one knew how the COVID pandemic would develop and there was a risk in other DMOs doing something similar, which would ruin the team’s campaign as press would most likely not write about a campaign that was not the first of its kind.
The team built the complicated controller system, produced the press kit and trained guides (all of whom were staff at Visit Faroe Islands) in the space of one week. They worked closely with PR agencies in the UK, USA and Denmark who helped spread word of the campaign within relevant media. A special press tour was arranged for the day before launch, allowing all press to try the tour themselves and prepare their articles and TV reports. When the tours were launched to the public, there were two tours a day. This was reduced to one per day, and then one per week during the two months of the campaign. The last tour was on the same day the Faroe Islands limited its travel restrictions.
Different locations were chosen from 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. Media budget was 0.
Spreading the word
By reaching this level of earned media, the team 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 their audiences. Once the islands opened for tourism in mid-June, the number of tourists to visit was considerably higher than the forecasts made in the preceding months.
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