The Seoul Convention Bureau navigates the tangled web of online marketing

Tuesday 20, December 2011


The Seoul Convention Bureau navigates the tangled web of online marketing


For the Seoul Convention Bureau (SCB), social media is a new electronic frontier for destination marketing. The key lies in adhering to the right strategy and across 2011, and the SCB has employed a simple, three-step approach that has already yielded dividends.


Plans to use social media as means of attracting buyers to Seoul’s business events assets began in 2010, a time when the city was enjoying unprecedented global attention as World Design Capital, UNESCO Capital of Creative Design, and host of the Seoul G-20 Summit. The SCB opened its official Facebook and Twitter accounts in the third quarter and by November was testing the waters with its first online campaign, the Seoul Winter Promotion.

Utilizing both social media platforms, the campaign focused upon countries from which Seoul draws the majority of its business tourists. Free roundtrip airfare was provided for one winner and partner from Singapore.

The primary goal of reaching out to buyers on a global scale required a long-term strategy. With the Winter Promotion an effective learning curve for logistics, including partnerships with Seoul MICE Alliance members willing to contribute prizes in return tor promotion, the SCB would then draw upon its experiences for its next 3 phases:

1) The Seoul Sizzling Sweepstakes – Building up an online network
In the broad view, the three-step strategy aimed to cast the net wide initially before sifting through the yield for the desired catch. September’s Seoul Sizzling Sweepstakes, a month-long promotion in which entrants could win gift vouchers on a daily basis to a selection of the city’s major business and entertainment venues, focus upon attracting a fan following. Promotions were handled via Facebook and Twitter, with the actual entries submitted to the SCB’s official website. By month’s end, the SCB had that all-important foundation required for all social media: a readership.

The Facts:

  • 700 Participants
  • 25 participating local MICE-related businesses
  • 4,400 new Facebook ‘likes’ during event (950% growth)


2) Steve’s Complete Convention Plan – Marketing Seoul: Your Complete Convention City
The November event was able to fine tune the focus more specifically to Seoul as a business events capital. The promotion took the form of a weekly cartoon strip, following the adventures of Steve, a business tourist on a four-day itinerary stopover visit to Seoul for a conference. Capitalizing on the campaign’s episodic nature, the strip invited participants to help the character construct his itinerary, from the business hotel he would stay in to which of the city’s tour programs he would use in his downtime. The winner was then given the chance to follow in his footsteps, starting with free roundtrip airfare valid throughout 2012.

The promotion was well-received, described as “arguably one of the most creative social media campaigns ever run in the meetings and events industry” by Meetings Review.

The Facts:

  • Promotion drew 254 participants, many of whom commented several times about Seoul’s meetings venues and attractions
  • 2,109 new Facebook ‘likes’ during event (153% increase)


3) EIBTM: Seoul Photo Contest – Reaching out to the Meetings Professionals
November also saw the SCB begin Step 3, for which 2012 will be the main arena. With its sights aimed at the most challenging demographic of all, the busy meetings professional, the latest phase requires testing the waters once more. A photo contest was run from the Seoul booth during EIBTM, in which expo attendees were invited to photograph themselves at the booth and upload them to the SCB’s Facebook page for a prize. The promotion made use of QR codes which, when scanned, would take entrants to the official Facebook page and further instructions.

Results were mixed. Those participating were in the core demographic buyers and industry professionals. Additionally, the outlay was minimal, with expenditure only on prizes (Amazon gift vouchers) and no extra manpower required on-site. However, the number of participants fell far short of expectations. Nonetheless, like the 2010 Winter Promotion, the exercise yields the valuable results of any test run – more effective marketing strategies aimed at attracting buyers can be attempted with lessons learned from this experience.


With a growing Facebook following of over 6,000 and over 1,000 Twitter followers, the Seoul Convention Bureau looks to capitalize on its successes of 2011.  With a newfound network and an added emphasis on publicizing the merits of Seoul’s meetings industry, the SCB looks forward to navigating the uncharted waters of social media and continuing its third step of connecting with more meetings professionals online in 2012.



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