With 25 million visitors in 2018, San Francisco is hardly a secret tourist destination, but the iconic Californian city is constantly striving to generate awareness and open its doors to an increasing number of international travelers. For the San Francisco Travel Association (SF Travel), a 100-year old organization promoting the city as a world-class destination, this has meant rethinking its China strategy.

SF Travel partnered with Hylink Digital Solutions, a creative advertising agency, and launched a carefully orchestrated and targeted short-video campaign. Here’s how:

Mafengwo, Influencers and Strong Partnerships

SF Travel chose Mafengwo as its main promotional channel. The website has become a go-to information source for Chinese travelers, making it ideal for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) hoping to connect with the world’s largest outbound travel market.

SF Travel targeted Chinese travelers who had already expressed an interest in San Francisco as well as those looking for vacation inspiration. In line with the consumer preference for short videos, it invited Chinese key opinion leaders (KOLs), or influencers, to host 90-second itinerary clips. The video series chose activities and experiences that appeal to young Chinese travelers, the demographic SF Travel hopes to attract.

SF Travel used popular Chinese social media influencers to promote a range of the city’s unique attractions, including the high-end luxury hotel Fairmont. Photo: Jing Travel

In total, SF Travel produced 10 videos, each one highlighting a unique experience on offer in San Francisco and showcasing a cooperative partner (including SFO, Napa Valley, Fairmont San Francisco, DFS, United Airlines, and Pier 39).

Collaborating with leading destinations and brands not only highlighted the diversity of experiences on offer in San Francisco, but also gave influencers insider access to exclusive locations. For example, one video toured the VIP Polaris Lounge at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and another showed off the features inside the Fairmont, the award-winning luxury hotel, two spaces in which individuals are not normally granted permission to film.

Outcome

SF Travel’s video series campaign aimed to showcase the city’s range of experiences to Chinese millennials and Gen Zers. The videos were watched 2 million times on Mafengwo and gained more than 31 million impressions, three times the original target. The Mafengwo campaign led to more than 890,000 clicks through a webpage created by SF Travel and Hylink.

About Hylink

By crafting social media content and interactions tailored specifically to the needs of travel-minded Chinese consumers (rather than a one-size-fits-all approach), Hylink’s deep understanding of how to connect with the Chinese population has brought SF Travel impressive results in a relatively short time.

This story originally appeared on Jing Travel, a Skift content partner.

Additional links from Jing Travel:

Photo Credit: SF Travel's strong relationship with San Francisco's iconic Fairmont gave Chinese social media influencers exclusive access the the luxury hotel. The series of 10 short videos released on Mafengwo received 2 million videos. Fairmont San Francisco