The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions runs multiple marketing initiatives in the United States to promote Holland as a destination in the luxury tourism market. BRINK has been a strategic partner for many years, assembling nearly a dozen targeted websites, interactive ad campaigns, and, at the core of it all, a socially driven travel site, efforts that helped Amsterdam become one of the top 10 American tourist destinations.
A travel destination goes 2.0
In 2008, BRINK launched holland.com, the official US travel site for the country of Holland. We called it Holland 2.0 as it capitalized on the growing web 2.0 movement of creating two-way experiences (in contrast to static, brochure-like information sites).
We built a massive website on a custom platform that relied on public APIs to provide a wealth of resources to tourists. A backend script scoured the web for articles related to travel to the Netherlands on a nightly basis and prepared it in a format to be published on the holland.com site. An intelligent score-based whitelist / blacklist feature in the admin trained the script to discern between relevant and irrelevant content (for example, excluding the music video “Amsterdam” by Guster while including a video about the hottest clubs in Amsterdam). The recommended features were then presented to an administrator who could approve them for inclusion and properly categorize them, creating one of the most diverse travel sites on the web.
Beyond the resource database, Holland 2.0 also included social networking features that allowed users to create accounts, leave reviews on various destinations and venues, bookmark content for later review, generate custom travel plans and even send messages to other users asking questions about their experiences. We believe it was the first social travel destination site.
The website received rave reviews by travel bloggers and was a Webby Award Honoree.
Crafting new digital worlds
BRINK created New Holland, an island in the online universe of Second Life, to promote the launch of Holland.com. New Holland featured a dance club, cafe, art museum (with paintings by the Dutch Masters) and an entire Dutch cityscape with canals and cobblestone streets. Users were given bicycles and tulips and could write and share postcards.
Rich and diverse campaigns
Over a five-year period, BRINK developed a wide variety of digital campaigns in collaboration with the Netherlands Board of Tourism to push Holland as diverse destination, simultaneously targeting many users groups such as luxury tourists, family vacations, business and conventions and college students on holiday.
Just Be, In Stunning HD
In the summer of 2009, BRINK took a RED ONE camera to over 100 locations all over Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The stunning footage was used in a variety of campaigns, notably the “Just Be” initiative that focused on the idea that Holland appeals to every type of traveler. Produced and edited by our in-house team.
Niche Campaigns for Niche Travelers
We built a variety of niche websites that focused on different aspects of the country. The Holland Flanders website was one such example, a partnership between the neighboring countries encouraging users to create custom itineraries and explore both countries over the course of their trip.
Amsterdam Goes Mobile
BRINK identified an opportunity for the Netherlands Board of Tourism to control the travel experience for mobile users. We built the native iPhone app and put it on the iTunes store for free download. It immediately became the top destination travel guide with average reviews exceeding 4 stars.