Remote control tourist - Tourism Victoria
4 years ago

Behind the scenes: Tourism Victoria talks about its Remote Control Tourist project

A week ago, Tourism Victoria gave an entirely new meaning to “destination marketing” by executing a project called Melbourne Remote Control Tourist (RCT).

As part of RCT, a team of four people were equipped with GPS enabled cameras and deployed for five days in the city. This team took instructions/requests from online viewers via Twitter/Facebook and executed it live. The entire event was live at RCT website.

Apart from the concept, the planning and execution of the project were strikingly impressive. Here’s why:

  • Everyday the team switched off their cameras at 8 pm. When they did, immediately a new page was displayed on the site with the schedule for the next day.
  • The team had even calculated the number of footsteps taken by them. On day one, the team took about 45,000 footsteps, and a total of 54 high fives were given. On Day two, they walked for 42 km and about 1800 cities watched the event online. On Day three, about 140 countries watched the show online.
  • When the team wasn’t working (on the ground), the RCT website showed how its members were relaxing at home by sipping tea/coffee.

These examples look simple, but the timely execution of tiny pointers like these made the entire (live) event look perfect without glitches.

Tom, one of the four team members in action.

Remote Control Tourist - Melbourne - Tourism Victoria - Tnooz Interview 1

Tom meets new friends at Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Remote Control Tourist - Melbourne - Tourism Victoria - Tnooz Interview 2

Trying out a T-shirt based an online user request.

Remote Control Tourist - Melbourne - Tourism Victoria - Tnooz Interview 3

Tnooz spoke to Leigh Harry, CEO of Tourism Victoria, regarding the RCT project, Q&A below.

What was the objective of this RCT project?

This campaign is the second stage of  Tourism Victoria’s Play Melbourne campaign – a four-year  campaign that aims to convert high domestic preference for travel to Melbourne to actual visitation; evolve the Melbourne brand to incorporate more active and energetic elements; position Melbourne as a premium destination; and provide compelling new reasons for consumers to re-engage with the city.

The campaign predominantly targets the Australia and New Zealand markets, with a focus on Creative Opinion Leaders who are creative, innovative risk takers and who are strong generators of positive word of mouth and have extensive social networks. However, due to its highly creative format and the power of social media, the campaign also generated a global audience.

The aim of the campaign has been to provide interstate consumers with more information, news and knowledge about Melbourne’s neighbourhoods, experiences and products. It also aims to increase actual visitation to Melbourne through providing new information and new reasons to visit.

The campaign is designed to encourage the audience to engage with Melbourne in a new way; to discover new things, destinations and delve a little deeper into all that the city has to offer. The ‘Go before you go’ message is aimed at sparking the innate human curiosity and sense of discovery in all of us and is relevant for travellers from all corners of the globe.

Did Tourism Victoria notice any spike in its social channels during/after this project?

Yes, we saw a significant increase in our social media channels during the campaign period. Our Twitter following grew by more than 10% organically and we’ve seen a jump in our average levels of engagement both during and post the first five days of the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In YouTube, we’ve posted an additional 80 videos over the course of the first week and with 88 hours of footage to use, we expect that this channel will continue to grow.

It has also been an excellent opportunity for us to re-engage via social with local tourism businesses and provide them with relevant content to share. The more that we can do to foster deeper engagement between consumers and local business, the stronger returns we will receive for the whole state of Victoria.

Will RCT be rolled out to other states/cities in Australia?

This campaign was led by Tourism Victoria – the State Tourism Authority for the State of Victoria. It would be up to the other State Tourism Bodies around Australia if they wished to replicate this initiative.

Will RCT happen again in Melbourne? If yes, when?

A legacy of the initiative is the amazing array and original nature of the footage and images of Melbourne that we have captured during the live period. This will be used as part of the ongoing Play Melbourne campaign which runs through to June 2014 and other marketing opportunities.

Advertising and promotion will also focus on generating ongoing promotion of Melbourne and driving repeat engagement with Tourism Victoria’s websites including the Melbourne Remote Control Tourist site.  This will include a significant promotion requiring consumers to engage with the Melbourne Remote Control Tourist website and find ‘hidden icons’ throughout the video and image content in order to win prizes, including trips to Melbourne.

What’s the takeaway for Tourism Victoria from RCT project?

Tourism Victoria is extremely happy with the level of engagement achieved over the live activation period. In addition to the strong consumer engagement as outlined above, the campaign achieved extensive positive media coverage around the world. A highlight was the initiative being labelled as ‘the next big thing’ by Mashable.

Positive sentiment for the campaign in social media was also exceptionally high at around 96% with consumers tweeting comments about how much they liked the campaign and how much it made them want to visit Melbourne.

Within the RCT website, various points of interests like restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, parks etc are mapped in Google Maps. Clicking on a POI, say a ‘restaurant’ gave much more information than what is present in native Google Maps. Did Tourism Victoria manually map all these POIs, and manually create all content (website, description, photos) for each point of interest?

As a tourism board, we have a wealth of data at our disposal and have long recognised the importance of good geographic data and photography for tourists. Our team manually mapped approximately 300 places around Melbourne prior to the campaign. Because we were never certain about exactly where the Remote Control Tourists would visit, we also added many more of the locations during the live activation.

The 1,537 Instagram photos that accompany the points of interest were shot live and fed back to our control room as the Remote Control Tourists visited each location, then incorporated into the live feed in real-time and the POI on the map.

How long it took (from the time of idea conceptualisation) to develop this project?

This campaign has been in planning since early 2013.  The execution is complex in that there are so many different dynamics to the campaign, particularly with the Remote Control Tourists receiving requests in real-time through twitter and Facebook.

Tourism Victoria’s marketing team has been working closely with partners Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and Exit Films/Tool to bring this exciting, world-first tourism initiative to life.

Clemenger BBDO Melbourne is Tourism Victoria’s appointed lead marketing services agency.

Exit Films/Tool have significant experience in the delivery of complex digital projects and have a high level of skill in delivering high-reaching, fully integrated campaigns that effectively amplify and leverage social media channels.

Any other interesting observation/pointers that you would like to share regarding the RCT project?

The Melbourne Remote Control Tourist sees Victoria leading the way again in terms of innovation and tourism marketing. The experiences of the Melbourne Remote Control Tourists and the footage captured validate our claims about Melbourne in an entirely authentic and easily accessible way.

During the five days, they revealed the many layers of Melbourne, the welcoming nature of our locals, the true depth and diversity of the product on offer, the city’s multiculturalism, its creativity, and that following your curiosity really is rewarded in Melbourne.

NB: All image via Play Melbourne Facebook page.

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Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



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