Foreign tourism boards rope in Bollywood stars to woo Indian travellers
Switzerland Tourism leverages actor Ranveer Singh's social media following; New Zealand Tourism and Dubai Tourism reach out to Sidharth Malhotra and Shah Rukh Khan, respectively
New Delhi: In an attempt to go beyond its clichéd romantic destination image and to woo the young Indian travellers, Switzerland Tourism has been leveraging Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh’s social media following. The actor who has seven million followers on Facebook’s photo-sharing app Instagram and over eight million on Facebook has been promoting the offbeat destinations and adventure activities that the country offers through candid pictures and videos.
In the last one year, international tourism boards like New Zealand (promoted by actor Sidharth Malhotra) and Dubai Tourism (promoted by Shah Rukh Khan along with young actors like Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Singh Rajput) were also seen leveraging social media feeds of Bollywood actors to promote destinations, cuisines and fun activities.
“The young people who can afford international holidays are not watching television or reading newspapers. They are consuming content online. When a celebrity is shown living an experience it becomes aspirational and Instagram posts are way more personal. Social media offers reach and engagement that a celebrity brings with his/her millions of followers which cannot be matched by traditional media," said Anirban Das Blah, managing director, Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions.
According to the 2017 media and entertainment industry report by consulting firm KPMG and lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), travel has been identified as one of the new sectors that has increased spends on digital channels.
Unlike a conventional endorsement deal, celebrity managers say that travel endorsements on social media typically combine an endorsement fee and a paid holiday for the star. The social media fee charged by stars in this case is usually 20-40% of their standard brand endorsement fee.
Ritu Sharma, deputy director and media manager, Switzerland Tourism India, said that unlike traditional media (television and print) which leads to spillage, digital allows superior targeting.
“Our overall strategy is to focus more on digital media and rely less on classical media. The videos posted by Ranveer Singh have been viewed between half a million to over a million times on an average. Every picture shared has an average half a million likes and this is just on Ranveer’s social handles. These are then further distributed by his fans, his fan clubs and also our own handles thus taking up the views and engagement manifold," she said.
Apart from social media, Switzerland Tourism plans to use video networks and target mobile users in a big way in display campaigns to target English speaking travellers between 18 and 55 years of age residing in metros belonging to Socio Economic Category A with interests in travelling, adventure, food and culture.
Meanwhile, Tourism New Zealand, which targets independent professionals aged between 25-54 years, roped in actor Sidharth Malhotra last year. “Social media can be considered a new form of word of mouth and it also enables us to be targeted. For example, we can serve one message to someone who is currently planning their trip to New Zealand and a very different message to someone who is already in the country," said Steven Dixon, regional manager, south and south east Asia, Tourism New Zealand.
A September 2015 study conducted by market research firm Nielsen for Instagram indicated that Indian Instagrammers are avid travelers with 50% of them having taken four vacations in the past year. The platform, which currently boasts of one million advertisers globally, has been adding features making advertising powerful and interesting. In August last year, Instagram Stories was launched where multiple photos throughout the day can be posted that play like a slideshow. The duration of video has also been also been increased from 15 to 60 seconds.
Visual is the new currency of digital because images, GIFs and videos attract maximum eyeballs, said Rajiv Dingra, founder and chief executive, WAT Consult, a digital and social media agency. According to him, international tourism target audience is still premium in India which is roughly around 50 million therefore it does not make sense for the tourism boards to spend heavily on traditional media.
“Instagram, in my opinion, has around 30 million users in India who have the disposable income to travel abroad. Since it’s a visual platform it is often used by influencers to promote international destinations. People love to follow travel stories and keep a tab on new destinations. Therefore investing on social media platforms seems to be paying off for these travel brands," he said.