#LifeOnIos Project: Introducing a New Destination Marketing Concept – Interview with Simon Lewis of Travel Concept Solution
In July, a creative social media campaign named #LifeOnIos ran in Greece to promote and rebrand Ios from a destination known as a party island for young travellers to a destination with a sustainable luxurious future.
The #LifeOnIos campaign, a first of its kind event for the travel industry, saw video creators from five different countries (UK, Spain, USA, Brazil, Germany) gather on Ios for the whole month of July to create video content to show that the island has a lot more to offer apart from the party scene it is famous for.
The #LifeOnIos project is part of #LifeOnX, a new concept in tourism marketing to promote and rebrand a destination, introduced by Simon Lewis, the founder of Travel Concept Solution, a Cape Town-based marketing agency with a global network in travel.
“I am amazed that people think Greece only has a three-month season and that it’s all based around weather… There are many cultural and adventure activities that are not based on clear skies and warm water and could be offered rather than just sunshine and beaches. The industry needs to catch up with the times…” – Simon Lewis on Greece
#LifeOnIos was set up in cooperation with the local brand LuxurIOS Island Experience and had the support of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), Lonely Planet and Greek carrier Aegean Airlines. Also, the global travel industry community Travel Massive was involved and Traveldudes and GTP supported the event as a media partners.
Simon Lewis talks to GTP
GTP caught up with Simon Lewis to find out more about his #LifeOnX concept, as well as his thoughts on the Greek travel industry.
- GTP: What is the aim of the #LifeOnX project and how is it different from other blogger campaigns?
Simon Lewis: #LifeOnX isn’t a blogger campaign! We are calling it a ‘Live’ destination marketing campaign using professional video creators and social media travel influences from a cross section of the global travel industry. All video creators participating in the campaign create, publish and distribute all their videos while on location, not weeks and months after.
It was an idea that came together after many years in the travel marketing business and working around the world with travel brands and I am very happy that we had the opportunity to make it happen for the first time with such a good results.
The additional Unconference component to the project brought travel industry insiders together on location in order to improve the marketing and travel products the destination offers. This is a great opportunity for a destination and the brands that are involved as they have exclusive personal access to executives from the biggest global travel brands to help them promote in the best way what they have to offer. Just imagine how useful this can be for the brand.
- GTP: What is the greatest benefit for a brand that is sponsoring a #LifeOnX project?
Simon Lewis: The greatest benefit is that the brand gets intense live exposure and lots of branded content plus exclusive access to top industry professionals. The content we create during the #LifeOnX Campaign is good quality and gets great distribution in real time. Moreover, a month of intense online marketing through a group of experienced travel industry professionals plus new ideas created by a cross section of the travel industry.
It is really a unique opportunity for a destination and brands.
- GTP: What do you think is the value of social media in general and do you believe a company needs to invest more in social media for advertising than in classic media?
Simon Lewis: The value of social media is that most people consume the Internet on cell phones and tablet computers during their every day life. More travel decisions are made based on what you see a friend doing via your own social media networks rather than by flicking through brochures and magazines. The reason a company needs to invest in social media rather than advertising in classic media is because social media can be more targeted and trackable than traditional advertising.
- GTP: As a consultant in the travel industry where do you see the future of the travel industry going?
Simon Lewis: People are travelling for experiences to share with their friends via social media and not just to relax and consume.
Greek Tourism: The industry needs to catch up with the times or risk becoming one big cliché
- GTP: What is your impression of the Greek travel industry and where do you think it needs to improve?
Simon Lewis: In my experience, Greeks seem to think that they are from the only country in the world that has sunshine and nice beaches! The industry, especially on the islands, seems focused on people consuming and sitting on beaches rather than actually doing activities and experiencing the culture while on holiday.
I am amazed that people think Greece only has a three-month season and that it’s all based around weather, as, despite what the weather is like, it will be better than all of Europe for 12 months on the year. There are many cultural and adventure activities that are not based on clear skies and warm water and could be offered rather than just sunshine and beaches.
The industry needs to either catch up with the times or become one big cliché. There are many places in the world tourists can go for nice weather, good food and beaches with also lots more things to do.
Also, offering quality services is very important. I have heard several times: “This is Greece and bad service can be excused”. I have worked in Africa for many years and Greek service in some cases is worse than that found in third world countries.
- GTP: Is there any place in Greece you would like to create another #LifeOnX project?
Simon Lewis: I think a #LifeOnX project to promote Greece as a winter destination would showcase that the country is more than a beach holiday destination.
- GTP: Are there any plans for the next #LifeOnX project?
Simon Lewis: We already have interest from a few destinations who followed our first campaign #LifeOnIos via social media, plus we have been asked to present our project at conferences in South Africa and Finland, so hopefully we’ll have more exciting projects ahead.