When the COVID-19 outbreak started in China, the Croatia National Tourist Board (CNTB) was quick to respond.
Even though their Shanghai office had barely been open a year, “we primarily used Weibo and WeChat to connect with audiences through proactive and supportive, compassionate communication, with our director even filming and posting a video of support for the Chinese under quarantine,” says Luci Jerkovic, Head of Global PR, CNTB.
Soon, the pandemic spread to Europe and by early March things had escalated. ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair, was canceled. The travel and tourism industry began to shut down, with flights stopping, border closures, and lockdowns.
“The CNTB was no longer responsible for front-line communication, as a national crisis team was in place and the Ministry of Tourism was responsible for daily answers to inquiries,” says Jerkovic.
By mid-March, the CNTB was on a work from home schedule and their communication focused on “non-aggressive inspirational content” that they promoted through their social media channels.
By April, the team had developed #CroatiaLongDistanceLove, a campaign where they hosted inspirational content on a dedicated landing page. They also used the hashtag to stay connected with their old and new followers on social media.
Where is Croatia in the COVID-19 recovery process today?
Croatia was one of the first countries to welcome new tourists again. Since mid-May, they’ve been open to select counties, with that list expanding month by month.
“Our primary focus has been on neighboring and driving-distance EU countries such as Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland. With other countries like the UK, Italy, and similar slowly being added to our proactive paid media campaign, Croatia – The Vacation You Deserve.”
Jerkovic says health and safety is a top priority, with mask-wearing being a requirement throughout the country. These precautions are regularly communicated to both residents and visitors, with new information and any changes published to the CNTB website as they occur.
“With year-on-year tourism numbers at just over 30% and July numbers to date at close to 50% of tourism numbers from last year, Croatia is still considered one of the safest destinations in Europe. Despite some increase in registered cases, we are still amongst the countries with the lowest number of cases per million inhabitants and one of the few Mediterranean countries deemed a viable vacation destination in 2020.”
As well as their focus on the drive market, the team also wanted to keep their audiences who were unable to travel this year or who didn’t feel safe or ready to do so inspired.
They launched a new campaign titled ‘Enjoy the view from Croatia’ to promote Croatian tourism further.
“The content is solely UGC, both from tourist boards across the country, businesses, locals, and now visitors that are sharing their favorite views via a dedicated IG channel to keep the destination top of mind for 2021 and beyond.”
At the start of the campaign, Jerkovic says the team focused on Croatian residents to build momentum and gather UGC content.
People could submit photos or videos by tagging their photos with #EnjoyTheViewFromCroatia on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter or by mentioning @enjoytheview_fromcroatia on Instagram.
They’re now amplifying this content with a paid ad budget—mainly Instagram ads for target markets that they’ve deemed less likely to travel to Croatia in the near-term.
They’re also cross-promoting the UGC by posting it to Croatia’s other social media channels. As a result, they’re seeing the number of followers from their target markets growing.
The campaign ran until the end of July.
How are you using CrowdRiff?
Jerkovic says the team relies on CrowdRiff to gather and get the rights to UGC content for their Croatia Full of Life social media channels.
To date, they have over 1,500 rights-approved images in their library they use primarily on Facebook and Instagram.
They’ve also repurposed their top 100 photos for the #EnjoyTheViewFromCroatia campaign landing page on social and their website.
Jerkovic says in the near future, the team intends to use UGC and CrowdRiff as part of a “state-of-the-art national tourism website.”
“We’re happy with CrowdRiff, and are looking forward to gaining more use of it and integrating UGC into upcoming campaigns.”
Header image credit: @jpsmithuga