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Getting ROI from VisitEngland’s Fan In A Van

Getting ROI from VisitEngland’s Fan In A Van

Mark Frary

July 14, 2012

Towns and cities around the country have been visited by a brightly coloured VW campervan as part of a VisitEngland’s social media campaign to accompany the journey of the Olympic torch.

The Fan In a Van programme was dreamed up by the VisitEngland PR team headed by Rebecca Holloway who wanted to find a way to link the torch relay more closely with tourism.

The “ultimate English roadtrip” was one of a number of ideas the team considered.

“We looked at working exclusively with one publication to have quite an interactive map where we could feed content in about each relay destination but we had done something similar before. We wanted to do something a bit different,” says Holloway.

The team set up a competition to find someone to take the van on the roadtrip around the country and the team expected the winner to be a student with time on their hands. In fact, the winner was 30-year-old Rachel Kershaw who works for media company Bauer and who is now on a sabbatical while she takes the van on a 70-day all-expenses paid journey around the country.

Kershaw took a week-long induction course at VisitEngland’s headquarters in London when she met the organisation’s editorial team who taught her about the tone of voice. After that, Rachel is free to blog as she pleases on the way around.

Holloway says the campaign has a budget of £35,000 which has covered the cost of pimping a classic VW in a VisitEngland wrap as well as red and white bedding and crockery inside as well as the kit to help the Rachel tweet, blog and post about her experiences as she travels – two video camera, one handheld and one on the roof of the van, an iPhone, an iPad and a laptop.

The VisitEngland team is looking for a substantial return on its investment in Rachel’s trip.

“We would like to see a 10:1 ROI on the budget, so PR coverage worth £350,000. I think we will definitely reach that and then some.”

That return comes in different ways – coverage of the competition to find the person to be the Fan, content gathered along the journey and PR generated along the route. “A lot of regional radio stations and newspapers have got on board with the campaign and interviewed Rachel,” says Holloway.

There are no specific targets for Rachel’s blog but the team had a target of 2,000 followers for the @faninavan Twitter account by the end of the trip. She has around 1,000 now at the half way point so she is on track.

Holloway has some tips for tourist boards looking at doing something similar.

“Definitely do it – it has been brilliant,” she says. “What has been fantastic is how much the destination management organisations have got on board and really shaped her journey. They have organised VIP activities and behind the scenes tours. From an internal PR perspective it has been brilliant.”

What would they do differently?

She says, “We would look at the itineraries further in advance because they are very fiddly. We do them in week chunks and work on them a week in advance.”

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