Katrine Mosfjeld has been the Manager of the Tourist Information Division at VisitOSLO for 8 years. She manages online and offline information delivery to consumers ranging from Tourism Information Centres, to digital strategies, visitOSLO’s Twitter account and a booking system. She works closely with industry in Oslo and even delivers an eLearning program.
I met Katrine in Amsterdam at the ENTER conference last year where I was really impressed with the tremendous success of their Advergaming strategy. When I started to play the game I immediately understood the success. It’s super addictive! She just released a second version and I thought I’d catch up with her.
You’ve been executing an advergaming strategy with the Holmenkollen Ski Jump. What gave your team the idea to use an advergaming strategy?
I wish I could say it was my idea, but it wasn’t. The supplier, an Oslo based little firm called Agens, got the idea and first contacted our colleagues at VisitNorway to see if they were interested. They were, and the Manager, Hans Petter Aalmo, invited us at VisitOSLO to discuss the idea and potential. This was back in the summer of 2006. As you can imagine, this was pretty new 3,5 years ago and the project group was not sure if it was going to work. But we liked the idea and we had a good feeling about it. So we decided to try something brand new… The stakes were high, but then the gain is good as well if you succeed right?
When did it first launch and what were the objectives?
We launched it December 21, 2006. You can still play it online. We decided to measure our success in numbers of games played (profiling the ski jump, Oslo and Norway each time) and visitors to the sponsor websites. But we never even dreamt about the results we got. Or all the other stuff that happened…
What were the results and what was all the other stuff that happened?
The numbers we got were incredible! And they are still growing every single day. At the moment, 138,800,000 games have been played, which means 277,600,000 jumps because every game has 2 jumps :). It has also generated more than 3,000,000 visits to our websites. How great is this??! Neither VisitOSLO or VisitNorway has ever done anything more efficient when it comes to marketing and results. And the other things that happened, but never thought of while planning…
You just launched a new version. What’s new and how are things going so far?
It’s a pretty tough act to follow because the first game was so successful! But we’re building a new skijump in Oslo, the new fantastic Holmenkollen Ski Jump, designed by JDS Arcitechts and wanted the game to reflect the new ski jump and brand. We launched it December 16th 2009 and you can play it here. It has been played 9,6 million times on the website already, with great viral effects in Facebook-posts, tweets, etc!
We also launched a Facebook app where you can play against your Facebook friends to see who’s the better jumper ;-). It has been played approximately 1 million times on Facebook since we launched December 21st. An advanced version of an iPhone app has been sold over 2000 times since December 24th.
The game has been tweeted a gazillion times, received TV coverage on the news, sports, papers, blogs, Facebook and YouTube… It has generated 66,500 visitors to the sponsor websites.
The results look very good so far, especially considering it was launched only a few weeks ago. We expect it to deliver results for many years; the old game is more than 3 years old, and still delivers. Yesterday there were 342,000 games played in the OLD game Pretty efficient, eh?
What advise would you give to destination marketers who’re thinking about advergaming?
We’ve experienced that it is extremely efficient – but it has to be a good idea, and done professionally. We also think that our success partly comes because it is fairly addictive :). It is a bit difficult to play, but not too difficult. You quickly understand some of the things that makes you better, so you want to try again. And it doesn’t feel to commercial – even if its marketing, you feel that it’s a game, and it is a game. Only it has some messages attached, and provides some links when the interest is created
Thank you very much for sharing your insights Katrine and congratulations with the success of the game.
I was supposed to present with Richard Kunz from T4G, our technology solutions provider, at Online Revealed Caribbean. I couldn’t go unfortunately but Richard interviewed me and incorporated some of the footage in his presentation. I received some good feedback so I decided to put the whole interview online.
We discussed Web 2.0, user generated content, social networks and one-to-one marketing for Destination Marketing Organizations and the tourism industry. I shared some of the things we’re working with T4G on to provide more relevancy to individual consumers on a mass scale.
Richard and I will hopefully be at the next Online Revealed Canada in Niagara Falls on April 13-15.
Excellent video of an interview PhoCusWright president Philip Wolf conducted with Kayak CEO Steve Hafner during the Travolution Summit. I’m a big fan of Kayak. Both their business model and their Interface are things envy. A must watch for strategists in the travel industry.
My favourite quotes:
About his OTA days: We all build great companies. None were great websites, they don’t search everything, they don’t show you everything. there is a bias in how you display the results, in particular on the Hotel side. Wouldn’t it be interesting to build a website that we wanted to use. And we weren’t biased about what we sold and we would allow you to build supplier direct or agency direct cause that’s what we do as consumers. So as executives, why don’t we build a website like that.
The middle is a mostly PPA, we’ll get a commission or a referral fee.
The next phase is turning Kayak into a vertical ad network.
Our goal is simple. We want to be the number one travel side for consumers information world wide.
Conditions you need for meta search. You need fragmentation in the supplier and agency community. You need a deep penetration of online booking habits. And then you need a vibrant marketplace for monetizing that traffic.
This month we’ll do 45M queries. That more then pricelines, that’s half the size of Orbitz. We do more searches a day then United Airlines.
My observation would just be that Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak; we’re all websites. So the website should be were you put your efforts,; were you innovate. Where you eliminate all the friction for what the consumer wants to do. And I would warrant you that these websites haven’t changed all that much in quite a long time despite having massive human capitol and massive P&L’s.
Travelpost; if you’re going to Tripadvisor its really hard to get to the hotel review. They post lots of impressions and clutter around it. We’re going to fix that.
Our mission statement is: Number one travel site world-wide. Best place for advertisers to market their services. And do it with the lowest operating costs ever seen. We’re going up against Google, we’re going up against Expedia, and we’re doing it with a Craigslist operating philosophy. It’s crazy.
Here we are, 10 years into online travel and buying a simple airline ticket still sucks. We need to fix that part of the equation before we move definitively into the complex travel.
Microsoft is in a tough spot. They’ve gone on record to say they want to compete against Google. They’re not really going to get there with horizontal search so they’ve got a strategy to go vertical search. So they’re assembling the Microsoft Office of vertical search. You’ll see them buy a real estate site, a job site, a travel site, and weave that together into a search volume competitor to Google.
Any place that consumers goto for travel information and that advertisers spend money on is a competitor of ours. Plain and simple.
We’re small or a reason. Not because we can’t hire. We’re small because we want velocity on the website development. I want to continue that innovation stream and beat those other guys at having a great website.
There is a lot of disruption still to come on the user generated content side. If I had to start another company in this space, that’s were I would start. Nobody today has done a great job at integrated user generated reviews with data about rates and availability, what’s a deal, and what’s not, etc.
Thanks for making this available Kevin.