VirtualTourist asks travel boards to find 8th Wonder

LOS ANGELES: TripAdvisor Media Group's free community-oriented travel site VirtualTourist is building relationships with tourism bureaus around the world as part of its latest campaign.

LOS ANGELES: TripAdvisor Media Group's free community-oriented travel site VirtualTourist is building relationships with tourism bureaus around the world as part of its latest campaign.

VirtualTourist is inviting national and international tourism boards to nominate a natural or manmade landmark from their area as part of the 8th Wonder of the World initiative.  

VirtualTourist's 1 million-plus global members, as well as the general public and new users, can vote for their favorite landmark online. The campaign has received more than 330 nominations from countries such as Croatia, Greece, Curacao, Jordan, Namibia, and the US.

To increase awareness and drive traffic, VirtualTourist created a website where tourism bureaus can design a homepage widget to direct people to vote, explained Kimberly Stirdivant Wason, head of PR and marketing for VirtualTourist.

More than 150 sites are using the widget, including StLuciaNow.com, VisitPA.com, Vienna.info, and VisitBritain.com. The travel website has also created a Facebook widget for the campaign.

In addition to engaging tourism bureaus and tapping into the knowledge of VirtualTourist's members, Wason said a goal of the effort is to increase awareness of the site.

“We want to create broader global awareness of VirtualTourist to different countries where we may not currently see a lot of traffic from, so we're very pleased that we've received nominations from almost every corner of the world and that so many different countries are represented,” she added.

There are various lists of Seven Wonders of the World, including ancient and modern manmade structures as well as natural wonders.

The site's internal PR team will continue to reach out to media outlets and bloggers to promote the initiative through the end of September. Wason said the team will also run daily social media campaigns, where it will post information about two nominees per day on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. The company is not working with a PR agency on the initiative.

She added that tourism bureaus are spreading the word about the campaign on social channels and to their own local media markets.

VirtualTourist is also working to create a partnership with a major morning talk show, said Wason. The media partner would highlight some nominations on the show, give away trips, and announce the winner at the end of the campaign.

Once the results are revealed, Wason said the site will do a significant PR push for the winning landmark with a feature on its homepage and by giving it “extra special attention” on the VirtualTourist travel page.

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