HomeAway Holiday-Rentals (HomeAway.co.uk) is the UK’s largest holiday rentals website, listing over 210,000 holiday homes worldwide. With the Grantourismo project we wanted to do something which would educate, engage and inspire people about the different type of holiday they could enjoy in a holiday rental.
So, in February 2010, we sent travel writers Lara Dunston and Terence Carter for one year around the world in holiday homes so they could chronicle their experiences and share them on a dedicated travel blog, Grantourismotravels.com, showing people a new way to travel and discover the world.
The amount of time and resource necessary for social campaigns cannot be underestimated. This was our main challenge, as we have to constantly engage and interact with our followers. The logistics of the project was also very important. It took time to decide upon and book all the properties, to organise travel and make all the necessary arrangements.
In addition, we had hoped that other publishers and media would be interested in featuring content from Lara and Terence, as they have complete editorial control over everything they produce. However even though there has been interest from bloggers, print publications are still hesitant to engage with this kind of innovative project in terms of taking some of the editorial content. They perceive it as ‘advertorial’.
So we have leveraged in advertorials instead, and some advertising and competitions (Food & Travel, SHE, The Travel Channel). Plus we are looking at more online partnerships like the one we did with Marie Claire for the Last of the Summer Vibes portal.
Engagement is key! Keeping up a good, daily level of interaction with followers and finding ways to keep the audience interested is essential. The content on the blog needs to be regularly updated; Lara and Terence have found that their visitor numbers decrease when they don’t post regularly, or are unavailable.
Also, when we started working on the project, we initially sent an email out to gather feedback on the idea from the writers. We asked for proposals of what they could offer in terms of blog categories, contacts and social media experience and we planned how we could leverage the project across other marketing platforms. With hindsight, we could have probably done more, especially when it came to investigating the media partners.
Lara and Terence’s contract ensures a minimum level of content on the blog and interaction in social media, while we leverage content across other platforms.
These are just some of the activities we are doing:
• We run a monthly competition to increase and maintain engagement, and also generate link-backs.
• We promote the project on our site in the Grantourismo section, which gives us great content for the site.
• We link to the blog and leverage it for status update ideas on our Facebook and Twitter page/account.
• We link to the blog content in newsletters and promote it to owners.
• We have also leveraged in advertising (recipe advertorials in Food & Travel magazine) and in competitions (on The Travel Channel and a Grantourismo-themed quiz for Facebook).
• We provided content for the Marie Claire portal Last of the Summer Vibes and are exploring opportunities with other similar websites too.
Lara and Terence are in charge of the blog and their own social media promotion via Twitter. They are in charge of how they manage their time, while our in-house PR team supports the project daily for any logistics and promote it on Facebook, Twitter, and other media channels. Our marketing team supports some content on-site and promotes the project in newsletters too.
When we launched the project, Lara and Terence held a pre-launch party in Dubai and then we had another launch party in London too.
We had great volume of traffic to the blog and good conversion through to our site: close to 12,000 property views (YTD) and almost 4,000 visits to our site from the blog (YTD). This may sound small but it’s important to remember this isn’t a huge budget project!
The stories on the blog are ranking well in Google for related terms and the ALEXA rank is doing well for a blog, and growing all the time (55,664 in UK, 178,844 in US).
We had great interaction and reception from travel bloggers. Lara and Terence have done lots of Q&As on some prominent blogs, like Europe a la Carte and Travelblather, and the concept has created some debate among travel bloggers. Twitter followers have just topped 3,000 and there are well over 1,000 comments on the blog.
The food stories and the contest have done really well too, generating lots of visits to the blog and also link-backs from the competition entries to our site.
We are very happy with the content, which really highlights the type of holiday you can enjoy in a rental and will continue to have relevance and be useful even after the project ends.
Check out 12ahead, our brand new platform
covering the latest in cutting-edge digital marketing and creative technology from around the globe.
12ahead identifies emerging trends and helps
you to understand how they can apply to modern-day companies.
We believe 12ahead can put you and your
business 12 months ahead of the competition. Sign up for a free trial today.