Tourism is very important to Newcastle, bringing a considerable amount of revenue to the city. But, it’s not just a bunch of randoms rocking up. A 2014 report by Destination NSW indicated that 22,000 international visitors and 485,000 domestic visitors came to Newcastle to visit friends and relatives (four year average ending Sept. 2014).
The hosts of these visiting friends and relatives (VFR) are largely ignored when it comes to marketing efforts, yet they represent an extraordinary opportunity. Two thirds of hosts are recognised as ‘somewhat to extremely influential’ in what their visitors will do, and how their itinerary will look (the other third are your dodgy relatives, probably in-laws, or friends you only kinda-sorta like). Newcastle City Council has never actively targeted this market in a significant way before. They wanted a campaign that educated and encouraged Novocastrians to become Newcastle ambassadors and get their friends and family visiting.
Newcastle’s changed. A lot. The dirty old ‘steel city’ is now a smart, vibrant, highly-desirable residential city with a quality of work/life balance other places can only dream of.
But many Novocastrians haven’t kept up with this rapid change or simply take it for granted. They’re not all aware of the number of excellent shops, cafes, restaurants, attractions, lifestyle activities and beach/harbour-side accessibility that make their city so awesome.
Our goal was to make Novocastrians aware of what they can do to take advantage of the city’s renaissance. We want them to experience all the new stuff and fuel their city pride. Then we want them to show off how good they’ve got it, sharing their experience through their photos, videos, reviews, check-ins and updates and inviting their friends and family to physically come and share the experience too.
People like to share and Newy is even more enjoyable when your friends and loved ones are here. We came up with slogan (and a song) “Better together – Bring the ones you love to the city you love”, which underpinned the whole campaign.
With video and still photography we told the stories of Newcastle from multiple perspectives – friends ‘starting those weekends with a splash’ at Newcastle beach, grandparents exploring the museum with their grandchildren and even epic nights out – three cousins, 1,000 stories’.
The communication activity was underpinned with some nifty planning tools, app and rewards programs to encourage more visits to local businesses and attractions. The Better Together stories featured on a variety of social sites and Newcastle City Council websites, plus press and even bus sides.
To help hosts make the most of their time with their visitors, some local businesses put up special offers and discounts on the visitnewcastle.com.au site and featured app.
To make an initial splash we ran some launch competitions. The first encouraged locals to share a pic of themselves enjoying the city for the chance to win a Supersized Wine & Dine Package. The images were collected and featured in a three-hour large-scale projection as part of the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations for extra engagement.
The next, saw a partnership with the Newcastle Herald and Pork Ewe Deli for a hotly contested VIP marquee at the Carols by Candlelight. But the most heart-warming was the radio promo with KOFM to Reunite a Friend which saw father and son Troy and Kevin reunited for Christmas in Newcastle after three years apart!