You may have heard that Sweden, known by many as the home of IKEA, fantastic meatballs and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has recently launched its own phone number. That’s right, you can now pick up the phone and ‘call’ Sweden or, to be more specific, a random Swede - from anywhere in the world! Today we’re going to take a closer look at why this is a great example of modern tourism marketing…
The Swedish Number (It’s +46 771 793 336, in case you were wondering) is an ingenious campaign devised by the Swedish Tourism Association. It’s actually so simple that it’s a wonder this hasn’t been done before. So what’s it all about? Well, anybody in Sweden can download the Swedish Number app. After doing so, they can set their availability, just like you might do on Skype or Whatsapp. Then the fun begins. Anybody, from anywhere in the world, can call the number above and be connected to a random person in Sweden.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, but the general idea is that you can have a chat, share a story, and generally find out about the life and culture of someone on the other side of the world. Everybody signed up to the Swedish Number app becomes a sort of ambassador for their nation. The Swedish Tourist Association clearly hopes to tap into the people’s patriotism, and inspire travellers all around the world to visit the country while doing so.
There are obviously some promotional motivations behind the Swedish Tourism Association's creation - and why not, it's a fantastic and elegantly simple idea. But there is also a deeper meaning as well. As the website states, "250 years ago, in 1766, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce a constitutional law to abolish censorship. To honour this anniversary, Sweden is now the first country in the world to introduce its own phone number. Call today and get connected to a random Swede, anywhere in Sweden and talk about anything you want."
Since the launch of the Swedish Number, understandably the country has been inundated with calls from curious people around the world. Here are a few statistics for you. As of April 15th:
So the numbers alone show that there have been thousands of conversations between Swedes and other people from around the world. Take a look at the total call duration - a whopping 150 days' worth of calls! Imagine how that equates to a more direct form of marketing. 150 days of reflecting the national Swedish brand to individuals around the world could be equal to, who knows, maybe 10 TV advertising campaigns. And it's fair to assume that a large amount of that will have been talking about Sweden, maybe discussing places to visit, things to see and do, and generally getting a view of the country from an insider's perspective.
Cleverly, the Swedish Tourism Association has come to conclusion that authentic interactions with open-minded Swedish people is the best way to spread a positive image of the country. After all, it's hard to get better better source of tourist information than a native. It'll be a while before the country sees a rise in tourism that it can directly link to this campaign, but it's not presumptuous to expect one.
We’ve posted on User Generated Content before, but it’s fair to say that this has taken things to another level. Usually, User Generated Content comes in the form of reviews or blog posts; it can even include social media posts. It can be anything developed by users in an organic manner which spreads a positive message about a place, service or product. Never before have we seen User Generated Content on such a huge scale. If you think about it, The Swedish Number is just one giant, organic network of people willing to provide authentic assessments of an entire country. Yes, clearly the idea is not to hard sell, not to simply to talk about Sweden. But UGC doesn't have to be directly about whatever it's promoting.
Just the fact that anyone in the world can call and have an interesting conversation is a form of authentic content that will have a positive impact upon potential visitors. You can ring up a Swede and talk about anything: feminism, politics, sport, travel, IKEA, Finland. It doesn't matter. The engagement itself is what will leave a lasting impression.
Last week we discussed the relationship between politics and tourism, and concluded that the two go hand in hand, with politicians able to create huge waves in the industry for better or for worse. For that reason it's great to see an entire nation embrace tourism in the way the Sweden is doing, and somehow manage to engage its own population at the same time. Swedish people no doubt value the positive impact that increased tourism will have on the country. But this campaign taps into more than that. It's not just about showing the world how great Sweden is, it's about showing the world how great Swedish people think Sweden is. There's a big difference, and that difference is what makes the Swedish Number concept radiate authenticity. It's about pride, patriotism and national identity - what's not to love?
Let's not kid ourselves here. The power of User Generated Content should be at the centre of any decent content marketing campaign. This is especially the case in the travel industry, where reviews, advice and inspiration are key to making sales.
Travelshift software comes with an extensive platform for you to build your own community of bloggers, experts, and reviewers. We understand the importance of authority and authenticity, and with a loyal, well-informed band of influencers, you can harness both to drive your marketplace forward.