They started by approaching food bloggers because they work a lot with food SMEs. In October they ran a 3-day blogtrip with six food bloggers, taking them on an oyster safari, mussel safari & lobster safari, and got the quick response they were after.
“Most of them twittered throughout the trip”, says Ann-Charlotte Carlsson of the West Sweden Tourist Board, “and three of them published their blogs the first day we got back. They write really well and take lovely pictures so this is something we are able to re-use in our Visit Sweden channels”.
The food bloggers were Chris Pople (Cheese and biscuits), Jeanne Horak-Druiff (Cook Sister), Lizzie Mabbott (Hollow Legs), Su-Lin (Tamarind and Thyme), Helen Graves (Food Stories), and Danish blogger Nadia Mathiasen (Food Fanatic).
This has not been their only blogtrip, a few months ago the VisitSweden U.S. office arranged a visit in conjunction with the Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo, who were promoting their overseas delivery service. American car buyers are flown over to Gothenburg to see their car at the factory and test it out on the roads of Sweden or Europe, before dropping it of at a shipping point and flying back home, where they’ll meet up again with their car later. VisitSweden invited three bloggers – a luxury travel blogger, food blogger and social media blogger – to spend some time driving around West Sweden.
Both blogtrips have been very worthwhile, but Ann-Charlotte says there is still a lot of learning to be done on both sides as the travel industry and bloggers develop together. “With traditional journalists there’s a sort of established understanding of how things work. With bloggers it’s a good idea to spell everything out in detail”.
It’s probably in-experience that led to a couple of minor hiccups with her recent trips – some un-paid extras bills and an un-checked and mis-quoted price in one post. When Ann-Charlotte pointed out the wrong price and suggested the blogger could have easily checked it with her, the blogger told her ‘we don’t work like journalists. We don’t have anybody checking our facts’. That concerned Ann-Charlotte a bit, because blog readers must be able to trust what they are reading. So that is the kind of thing that she has learned she needs to be clear with bloggers about right from the start, in this case telling them that she’ll be pleased to re-confirm any facts or figures the blogger is unsure of.
These things are certainly not enough to dampen her enthusiasm for hosting future blogtrips.
“We will definitely continue to work with bloggers”, says Ann-Charlotte, “including both travel bloggers and food bloggers, but I’m hoping to find some niche bloggers, for example activity bloggers who are crazy about sea-kayaking.”