The Austrian National Tourist Board’s International Social Media Strategy

“Walls.io Is a Huge Help When It Comes to Filtering Content By Language.”

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A young person, smiling broadly towards the camera, is standing by the railing at the front of a boat. In the background, on the other side of the water, there’s a line of typically Austrian houses by the promenade.

The Austrian National Tourist Office, “Österreich Werbung”, is the tourism marketing organisation responsible for enticing tourists from all over the world to choose Austria as their holiday destination.

In “normal” times, I imagine this to be a challenging but fascinating mission. But what do you do as a national tourist office during a pandemic, when travel is extremely limited and tourism is actively discouraged?

So we talked to Lisa Dorfner, who is part of the Brand Management/Innovation and Campaigns team at Österreich Werbung. She walked us through the various types of social walls they use (spoiler alert: it’s a lot of walls!), how the walls help them achieve their goals and, of course, how the Austrian National Tourist Office has been dealing with and weathering the global pandemic.

Lisa Dorfner

Lisa Dorfner

Brand Management/Team Innovationen und Kampagnen, Österreich Werbung

You’re using social walls in a variety of ways. Could you walk us through the types of social walls you’re setting up and where you are using them?

We use social walls both for B2C and B2B campaigns.

In the B2C area, we have a general social wall and various walls for specific campaigns. Our general #FeelAustria wall pulls content relevant to vacationing in Austria. It can be used by all markets. We’re also showing this wall on our large video wall in our head office lobby.

Photo of a very large LED wall that displays the Austrian Tourism social wall.
The video wall in the lobby at Österreich Werbung HQ.

We also have country-specific social walls that are adapted to each country’s needs. For example, we use Twitter as a content source for the Arabic region, while our walls for other countries are mostly set up to pull content only from Facebook and Instagram.

The Walls.io language filter allows us to show only posts in a specific language, which is helpful because these walls are usually embedded on the landing pages for each target country.

Side-by-side of screenshots taken of the austria.info pages in Arabic and Hungarian. Each show an embed of a social media wall in the relevant language.
Here, you see two examples for the Austrian National Tourist Office’s market-specific websites with the relevant social walls embedded. On the left, is the website for the Arabic region. On the right, the Hungarian website.

We also set up walls for specific limited-time campaigns, which are then embedded on the relevant campaign’s landing page. We primarily use these campaign-specific social walls to aggregate and share the user-generated content posted with the campaign’s hashtag.

In the B2B area, we have our universal “Österreich Werbung/AustriaTourism” wall, which is embedded on our B2B website. And our “Conventions” wall is specifically in use at trade fairs. We use it for hashtags before and after events but also show it on a screen on location during trade fairs.

And then, we have our “Virtuelles Hausbankerl” wall, where we collect user-generated content to highlight hospitality best practices during the pandemic.

Instagram post by user @terrob showing a wooden bench on the edge of a path overlooking a mountain range. The caption says: Sometimes you have to take a step back to enjoy the view - at my all time favorite #hausbankerl spot 🏔
Source: Instagram

What type of content are you primarily using on your social walls, and why?

Our main aim is to display user-generated content. Why? Because there’s so much great content being created by guests, hotels, restaurants etc. and we want to show this content to our audience. We can also use this content to paint an atmospheric picture of Austria. But we also have walls, such as the B2B “Österreich Werbung” wall, that show only our own content.

How are social walls helping you achieve your goals?

Social walls allow us to make user-generated content visible on our websites and convey the look and feel of our country. We can motivate users to post content, especially when we’re running campaigns with specific hashtags. 

The various walls in different languages make it easier for us to customise our content for each region and language and better target people in each country. We can easily filter content for specific languages and also adapt to each market by pulling content only from the social channels that are relevant in each country.

Our “Virtuelles Hausbankerl” wall is a great way to showcase best practices from the tourism sector and make them visible to others in the industry.

How do you target communities abroad and curate content in other languages?

Not all markets work the same way. Tourists from Hungary have different needs and preferences when it comes to holidaying in Austria than Spanish or Arabic visitors. This means that we also need to adapt our communication and show content that is relevant to each target group.

On many social media channels, we have accounts in different languages, so we can make sure to really speak to our target group. We also want to show content that holidaymakers from each country have posted during their stay in Austria.

Walls.io is a huge help when it comes to filtering content by language. For example, we only have one account on Instagram, but I can easily filter the content on our walls and only show those posts using #FeelAustria that are in the correct language for each country’s website.

The pandemic has strongly impacted the tourism marketing industry. How has your use of social media changed during the pandemic?

When the pandemic hit, we had to quickly decide whether we wanted to remain active on our usual social media channels or if we should take a break instead. We chose to stay active to provide our potential guests with positive and inspiring content to offset the strained situation.

We also put an emphasis on interacting with people. And, eventually, we had to figure out how to switch to proactively encouraging future visits to Austria. The right timing for that also depends on each country and the situation there. [You can read more about this in German on the Austria Tourism blog.]

How do you promote the Virtuelles Hausbankerl project to hosts, and what has the response been like?

We only promote this wall in the tourism industry using our owned channels such as Facebook and our newsletter. The project is intended for the industry, and we use the wall to motivate tourism providers to share their best practices. Most of them use the hashtag #VirtuellesHausbankerl as a basis and then add more words, for example, their destination.

Language filters are your friend

When you run a hashtag campaign, you might want to show only posts in a specific language. But you can’t always select your social media sources based on language alone, and you have no control over what language other people are posting in. 

Perhaps you’re running a global hashtag campaign, and users are posting content in all kinds of languages. Or you might be using a social media account as a source that regularly posts in more than one language. One of your sources could be a Canadian Facebook page that posts in both English and French. Or you might be running a tourism-targeted Instagram account that posts in multiple languages to appeal to a wide range of guests.

Multiple languages happen when you run hashtag campaigns. And that’s where the Walls.io language filter comes in.

You can easily activate the language filter in the moderation settings of your social wall, choosing one or more languages to filter for. Once you’ve saved those settings, only posts in the languages you’ve chosen will be shown on your social wall.

Screenshot of the Walls.io dashboard showing how to enable the language filter for the social wall and add one or multiple languages to it.
Setting the language filter for your social wall on the Walls.io dashboard.

Filter the content on your wall by language. Simply head to Moderation > Language filter. Enable the filter with the toggle and select your allowed languages from the dropdown.

Virtuelles Hausbankerl

“Virtuelles Hausbankerl” is one of Österreich Werbung’s B2B activities that Lisa has mentioned in the interview. A “Hausbankerl” is a bench that can traditionally be found in front of houses in towns and villages in Austria and Bavaria. It’s intended as a way to sit and have a chat or gossip with family, neighbours, friends.

The idea behind Österreich Werbung’s virtual version of the “Hausbankerl” is to have hosts hold a video call with their regular guests. It was intended as a way to keep the connection going despite the travel bans during the pandemic.

Impressions, photos etc. from those video chats can then be shared with the world using the hashtag #VirtuellesHausbankerl and are shown on the social wall, which is embedded on the Österreich Werbung blog.

Screenshot of the Virtuelles Hausbankerl blog post showing basic information about the project and the embedded social wall.

Österreich Werbung only promoted the hashtag campaign and social wall to tourism providers, who then organised their own events and accordingly promoted them to their stakeholders. This ensures that everyone can adapt the promotion to their specific audiences.

Making it easy for people to take part

As we’ve learned from previous interviews with people working in tourism marketing, getting the hospitality sector on board with digital tools can be difficult and slow-going. Setting up a blog post introducing the campaign and providing hosts with detailed instructions for how to become a part of “Virtuelles Hausbankerl” probably helped Österreich Werbung get people on board.

Screenshot of instructions (in German) for using various video software for Virtuelles Hausbankerl calls.
Source: Österreich Werbung blog

The blog post is a useful resource for hosts, hotels and restaurants for the tech side of things. It recommends various video conferencing tools and provides hosts with the brand elements to use in their “Virtuelles Hausbankerl” promotions.

And they really managed to get partners into it:

Screenshot of an Instagram post by user @hoteleder showing an adult with a child on their lap facing a smartphone held by a tripod. The two people are wrapped in a blanket and warm clothes. The adult is holding a mug. Behind them, a mountain range is visible.
Source: Instagram

Some even set up not just one-on-one chats with their guests but hosted live events on Instagram. Here’s a hotel in Salzburg announcing their weekly live advent events on Instagram: 

Social media post on the social wall by Hotel Eder Maria Alm; the image shows the Virtuelles Hausbankerl logo and says “Live auf Instagram”. The caption reads: Hotel Eder veranstaltet jeden Sonntag einen Live Adventumtrunk! Join now!
Source: Virtuelles Hausbankerl social wall

And guests got into it as well, such as this one who posted on Instagram that they’re looking forward to the chat, saying, “my host from #Zillertal has sent me this pic”.

Post by an instagram user on the social wall. The photo shows a wooden bench at the side of a path, surrounded by trees and overlooking turquoise-blue water. The caption reads: #Excited auf das #virtuelleHausbankerl, mein Gastgeber aus dem #Zillertal hat mir das geschickt 🥳 #visitaustria #feelaustria #austausch #urlaub #traveltime
Source: Virtuelles Hausbankerl social wall

Takeaways for successful tourism marketing during a pandemic

Tourism marketing means getting everyone excited, from the hosts and other providers all the way down to the guests. And that often means being flexible, especially in a pandemic.

The Österreich Werbung social media team has successfully adapted to the current situation. They found ways and means to stay in touch with Austrian hosts as well as guests from all around the world, be it over their social media channels or with targeted hashtags.

  • Faced with worldwide travel bans, they switched from promotional to more inspirational and interactive social media content.
  • They set up social walls in different languages, each targeting specific countries/markets, making it easier for potential tourists to get the information they need.
  • They created an interactive hashtag campaign that involves tourism providers and their guests and helps them maintain relationships that can later turn into bookings.

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