The digital space is a veritable treasure trove for marketers. It seamlessly connects with the tourism sector in not only bringing travel stories to life, but also taking people closer their dream destinations. New features and technologies on websites and social media platforms are enabling marketers to get even more creative and innovative with campaigns. That is why we wanted to recognise the most compelling Digital story that showcased a holistic digital strategy that effectively marketed products and services in the African travel industry. This also includes Digital Influencers that moved followers to support a travel brand.

    Congratulations to our winner!

    • BLOOD LIONS BY Blood Lions Campaign and Love Africa Marketing
    • The Blood Lions campaign was launched following the release of the Blood Lions documentary in July 2015. Currently in South Africa alone an estimated 20 000 predators, mostly lions, tigers, caracals and cheetahs, are held in captivity for commercial purposes. Many are used in exploitative tourism activities, such as cub petting, ‘walking with lion’ attractions, as photo props, and in voluntourism. The next stages in the lifecycle of captive big cats is the captive (“canned”) hunting for their trophies and/or the lion bone trade to South East Asia, contributing further to the escalating commoditisation of these wild animals.

      Volunteers and tourists play a significant role in the perpetuation of the captive breeding industry, as they (often unknowingly) support predator breeding by among others hand‐rearing cubs and taking part in ‘pay‐to‐play’ activities, thus contributing to a never‐ending cycle of cruelty and abuse.

      The mission of the Blood Lions campaign is to reach a broad global audience to increase awareness and knowledge around interactive captivity wildlife attractions and “canned” hunting, demonstrating that these can never be sustainable tourism options.

      It is a “call to action” to not only affect behavioural change around how to treat wildlife ethically, but also to precipitate change in policy through garnering support from the world’s most influential individuals and organisations.

    And well done to our finalists:

    • “Go Back to Africa”, a racist putdown long used against Africans in North America and Europe has been getting a social media makeover. Black & Abroad, an Atlanta‐based lifestyle and travel company targeting black travellers, is reclaiming the derogatory statement with a new tourism campaign encouraging African‐Americans to indeed go back to Africa.

      The company partnered with FCB/SIX, a data‐driven creative agency, to create an AI platform which collects real time social media posts of black travellers throughout the continent. As vacationers post photos with the hashtag #gobacktoafrica, the Google vision fuelled system scans faces for people of colour and locations to select posts for the campaign’s website. There, African‐Americans are encouraged to browse through countries and see travellers vacationing across Africa.

      Promoting Africa as a desirable destination for black people worldwide is not a new one. The early 20th century saw the rise of the “Back to Africa” movement, a campaign galvanized by the pan‐ African activist Marcus Garvey which sought to transport African‐Americans to Africa in the hopes of acquiring greater social and economic independence. But for Black&Abroad, the social media‐led campaign is an attempt to break an “artificial travel barrier” for African‐Americans regarding African tourism, and in the process support African economies.

      Eric Martin, co‐founder of Black & Abroad says: “We hope for this campaign to create a pipeline where black travellers can come to the continent and spend their money. Aside from taking away the power in the ‘offensive‐ness’ of the statement, the campaign has also been an attempt to capture the attention of African tourism boards on the potential of African‐American travel across Africa”.

      According to the African Development Bank’s most recent tourism report, the industry accounted for 9.3 million direct African jobs in 2017. The burgeoning industry, led on the continent by countries including Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania has also been a way to diversify each country’s economy. Back to Africa project uses an innovative approach to visual data collection and AI‐driven contextualisation to locate and deploy an alternative narrative.

    • Communication of holidays requires a ‘show and tell’ approach for SA audiences. Social media validation defines our chosen itinerary of choice and Instagram is a platform of choice to show our holiday.

      eBucks Travel is a rewards programme linked to South Africa’s FNB bank. Customers earn eBucks by simply swiping with their cheque or credit cards, regardless of the purchase. In order to communicate the versatility of rewards and the ease of booking a travel package on the eBucks travel website (using a combination of eBucks and cash), JAW Design partnered with Retroviral to execute an influencer marketing campaign with the most relevant Instagram influencers.

      @SouthAfrica, @UncleScrooch and @HlubiMboya1 created bespoke, three‐day itineraries to showcase both the diversity of South Africa as a work, play and explore destination and what can be achieved when using a mix of eBucks and cash. 3.4 million people reached in 72 hours – this is almost 50% of South Africa’s entire Instagram audience and 400 000 views, alone via Instagram Stories – an instant success story.

    • Eco Africa Digital (EAD) were hired to launch De Zeven Guest Lodge, a new luxury guest lodge in the Cape Winelands located between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, in the digital space and continue to grow their brand online.

      Competing in a saturated market for a slice of the tourism pie in the famous Cape Winelands of South Africa, De Zeven brought the challenge: How to set themselves apart online, and how to get more direct bookings, month‐on‐month.

      First, EAD spent time with the owners to get an authentic feel for this new lodge in the Cape Winelands. The EAD team then put their heads together and created a digital marketing strategy and 12‐month plan for the launch of De Zeven, which officially took place in December 2018, while the strategy kicked in from January 2019.

      The team at EAD says: “We knew we had something special here: a beautiful lodge uniquely positioned in the Banhoek Valley, with jaw‐dropping views and endless opportunities, some of which include a surplus of outdoor activities, neighbouring farms offering wine and food experiences par none, and a locally owned property created with passion and the utmost attention to detail”.

      EAD used the marketing funnel approach to build the brand over a period of 3‐6 months with awareness and engagement campaigns, followed by lead generation and conversion campaigns from July 2019 to December 2019.

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