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The world’s biggest-ever blog trip

The world’s biggest-ever blog trip

Steve Keenan

May 4, 2012


by Steve Keenan

The world’s biggest-ever blog trip will be staged this summer when more than 100 writers descend on Belgium and flood the country’s music festivals.

Music and travel bloggers worldwide are being identified and invited by Tourism Flanders Brussels, a region which claims the highest number of festivals per inhabitant. The aim is to highlight the diversity of music in the region, which has hundreds of festivals ranging from jazz and blues to rock, hardcore and dance.

The blog trip organisers have highlighted between 30-40 festivals and are now looking to match each event with the right blogger.

One of the organisers, strategic consultant Frank Cuypers, said the aim was not to invite bloggers to a Coldplay or Mozart concert. “They can do that in their own country. We are looking for people who are in search of a somewhat different experience.

“Our starting point was to mix key influencers that focus on a music genre such as jazz, hardcore, baroque or reggae with an open mind travel blogger that is up to something ‘different’ as an experience.”

Initially, Flanders started its search for bloggers by destination, primarily from countries close by – that has now changed. “I’ve learned that influencers cannot be looked up geographically,” added Cuypers. “We have spotted already reggae fanatics in Sweden; a wheelchair blogger from Spain, a blogger pop star in China and even a connoisseur of Flemish festivals from Hungary.

“We are looking to find that blues fanatic and that special reggae fan. We are looking for young vloggers who portray our cities and region in a different way than the average established journalist.”

The region is being helped in its search by Vancouver-based Think! Social Media. Chief strategist William Bakker said: “Flanders is the perfect client for us. They went all in with social media. By selecting bloggers based on their personal passion and matching them with an event they will love, the word will spread amongst people that care. And because of the diversity in festivals, you need a lot of bloggers to cover a lot of passions. Flanders wasn’t afraid to do that.”

The further the blogger travels to attend the event, the bigger the festival they will be offered, such as Tomorrowland (dance) and Werchter (rock and pop). Access to organisers and performers will be arranged. But Cuypers said he also wanted bloggers and videographers who are “intrigued” by those at the mixing tables, in the catering tent or selling tickets.

“We have also visited every festival organizer and given them a short training course about what kinds of stories could be of interest: for example, Leperfest is 100% vegan although the music is hardcore.”

A Facebook page (which already has 10,000 Likes), Youtube, an online game and competition will support the campaign.

It’s an intriguing experiment, not only in scale of ambition but in the way a destination is adopting social media wholesale as a central platform of an international marketing strategy. Fashion, food and cycling are other key areas that Flanders is looking to promote through recommendation.

Word-of-mouth is key, said Cuypers: encourage enthusiasts to find the good stuff, recognize it, then recommend and help a destination build a good reputation. He added: “Provide the right target groups with the right experiences and they will discuss these experiences… which become stories and will be shared as a result.”

* If you are interested in entering or finding out more about the competition, go to the Facebook page or email: fiaf@toerismevlaanderen.be

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