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A virtual invasion of the Cape

A virtual invasion of the Cape

Cape Town in South Africa is expecting a massive influx of extra visitors in the next three months without many of them actually going to the city in real life (as yet). These will be virtual visitors experiencing the delights of the Cape via a world-first Facebook-based travel app.

The unique Facebook app is the brainchild of Cape Town Tourism and its agencies, Ogilvy Cape Town and Flow Communications.

Cape Town has won numerous accolades over the past year, including most recently a Top Beach Destination award at 2012 World Travel Awards in September. The Facebook app and campaign is part of the Cape Town Tourism strategy to keep Cape Town top of mind as a destination, and social media is a core part of this.

According to Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, they are acutely aware of the importance of social media in travel decisions, and in particular, the role that Facebook plays in determining holiday destinations. This has led to the design and development of one of the most innovative apps yet to position a city globally via Facebook.

“The Facebook app is a creative user experience that utilizes the latest technology and Facebook’s immense global reach to raise awareness of one of Africa’s most beautiful and inspiring cities. From October 2, (until the end of December 2012), Facebook users around the world will be able to send their Facebook profile on a holiday to Cape Town and stand the chance of winning a trip to the city for real,” she said.


Facebook users can tailor-make experiences that fit their personal interests with a unique itinerary assigned to them. The app demonstrates Cape Town as a city that offers everything from high-energy adventure sports to relaxing, family-friendly experiences. The opportunity to win a real holiday to the “Mother City” – as Cape Town is known – at the end of the campaign is a great incentive to play the game.
“Anyone signing their profile up for a trip gets a boarding pass in their profile’s name from their home town and heads off on a five-day virtual trip to Cape Town. Each day they receive an update with photos of where their profile ate, went, partied, or stayed – with gripping point-of-view photos and videos showing the full experience,” saids du Toit-Helmbold.

It’s a simple process to sign up to play the Facebook game. Facebook users need to click on the app to start their journey on the Facebook page.

Velma Corcoran, Executive Marketing Manager at Cape Town Tourism, said that “earned media is the most powerful form of destination marketing in a noisy marketplace.”

Worldwide, Facebook had 955 million monthly active users in June this year, and more than 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook per day, with travel-related photos dominating.

Du Toit-Helmbold pointed out that, “Social Media – and Facebook in particular – has a great influence over consumer choices globally, especially in the travel sector.

“Research in 2012 has shown that 76% of travelers post vacation photos to a social network and 40% post activity/attraction reviews. When you bear in mind that over 90% of consumers around the world say they trust recommendations from friends, such as word-of-mouth, and that of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original travel plans, it is clear that social media is now of paramount importance for travel authorities like us.”

Du Toit-Hembold believes the campaign “will give thousands of people a chance to do a virtual ‘test drive’ of a trip to Cape Town in a really engaging way, and it should whet appetites around the world resulting in more arrivals for Cape Town.”
Cape Town Tourism’s recent iAmbassador campaign – during which influential travel bloggers were hosted in Cape Town and local citizens engaged as the marketers of Cape Town – resulted in over 36 million Twitter impressions in three weeks (source: Tweetreach). It illustrated the power of social media combined with citizen engagement and set the stage for the organization’s next digital marketing campaign with Facebook.

Virgin Atlantic is sponsoring the flights for the winners of the trip to Cape Town, and will resume their seasonal direct dailies between London and Cape Town from October 18, 2012.