Marketers have tried all sorts of complicated and often clever ways of getting travellers to talk about the destinations they represent, with mixed results.
There was the extremely well-known Best Job in the World campaign from 2009, loved by PR and advertising types but launched just as the global economy started to tank.
And, more recently, the promotion campaign for the Maldives which turned sour when human rights protesters waded in to highlight some of the aspects of the country that tourism officials are obviously less keen for travellers to know about.
But for every faux pas in the Maldives there is a success story, not least the MySwitzerland campaign which married social media with humour and some clever use of technology.
Some might, however, suggest that tourism boards are actually just over-thinking it all a little bit.
Don’t worry about blogger trips, or creating fancy Facebook pages or having complicated photo upload competitions through Instagram – just pay for a group of consumers to visit your destination for a weekend and ask them to share their experiences in every social media channel they can find.
This appears to be the idea behind the Human Brochure – the latest project from the people trying to promote the Australian city of Canberra on its centenary.
The grand title of “Human Brochure” skews the fact that essentially its a massive media trip… but without the media.¬†Consumers simply enter the draw, tell the site about their likes and dislikes, and hopefully get selected to go on the trip.
“All we ask is that you share some photos or videos or just people about your favourite bits,” says the promotional video accompanying the campaign.
No need to worry about journalists and bloggers going on about ethics on trips, etc – maybe officials at the tourism board have simply realised that handing out a load of free travel to Joe Public (who, arguably, are perhaps less worried about whether their reputation is tarnished by tweeting constantly about their amazing experience under a common hashtag) is the better way to get some buzz about a destination.