At the 2018 & 2019 IMTM International Tourism Conference, six travel bloggers made contact with the tourist board of the beautiful city of Kaunas in Lithuania. Each one of us had a separate visit with a specific focus and I decided to collect feedback from all bloggers and also to interview Mrs. Ieva Ordienė, who is the Kaunas Tourism Division Chief Project Manager.
“As I am responsible for the Israeli market in our office, I do the research and pick the bloggers or journalists based on our needs, recommendations, previous work and results”, explained Mrs. Ordienė and continued “Israel is a target market for Kaunas, so we do understand that you have to work with different channels to spread the word about our city. One of the ways is to participate in fairs (like IMTM), and also to do promotional campaigns with the media (like Lametayel), bloggers and travel agencies”.
I asked her if she had any difficulties choosing the specific bloggers and this was her answer: “At IMTM many people came to me and presented themselves as famous bloggers or very fast-growing bloggers. I had to check the information because a lot of people take FAM trips as a way for them to travel, not to work. It’s hard to find the right information, even on bloggers’ websites. Many of them have contacts in Hebrew on their website”.
With regard to choosing the different aspects of the city to focus on, Mrs. Ordienė said: “We are trying to show Kaunas in many different ways: From the cultural side, the Jewish heritage, common history, etc. When I am looking for someone, I am thinking which side of Kaunas they will represent, how big is their audience and if it’s the right channel to do the campaign”.
And here is her important conclusion: “We can see the growth of Israeli tourists coming to Kaunas, and a growth in people visiting our channels (website, Facebook, etc.). For example, comparing 2018 and 2019 I-III quarters of the year, the growth of tourists coming to Kaunas is 83 percent, their stay is 90 percent longer (usually spending 2 nights in Kaunas). It’s the biggest growth from Asian countries.”
After this amazing input from Mrs. Ieva Ordienė, the Tourism Division Chief Project Manager, I interviewed all 6 bloggers that traveled to Kaunas and here are their answers:
The bloggers are:
- Michal Manor -“Roa Olam“
- Tal Bright -“Bright Nomad“
- Adi Wits -“Easy Kosher Travel“
- Shir Yam Paska - “Check in/out“
- Talia Klein Perez -“Traveling Overseas with Kids“
- Gili Mazza -“Travel with Gili“
When did you travel to Kaunas and why? what was the main interest of your visit?
Michal: I visited Kaunas in October 2018. I flew on the first Ryanair flight from Tel Aviv to Kaunas. The main purpose of my visit was to get to know the city, in order to introduce it to my readers. We were the first Israeli bloggers who went there (before us there were only few journalists).
Adi: I traveled to Kaunas in June 2019. I was invited by the Kaunas Tourism Office, and the purpose of my visit was to focus on the rich Jewish heritage in Kaunas, in which my audience is particularly interested.
Talia: I traveled to Kaunas with my daughter in December 2018 for the Christmas celebrations. The purpose of our visit was to promote Kaunas to my Facebook group (which currently has 55,000 parents who travel overseas with kids).
Tal: I visited Kaunas in June 2019. My main interest was to learn about architecture, street art and museums in Kaunas.
Shir Yam: I traveled to Kaunas in May 2019, arriving on the third weekend of May, just in time for the Kaunas 611 birthday celebrations.
Gili: I visited Kaunas on the 21st of June for the summer solstice celebration – the longest day of the year. I adore the pagan rituals that are common on that day in the Baltic countries. I wrote about it in a detailed article in “Globes” – the Israeli financial times.
What made the Kaunas Tourism Board pick you? Based on what blog data?
Michal: I corresponded with the Tourism Board after I met them at IMTM 2018 and they invited me to come, based on my traffic and their impression of my blog.
Adi: The truth is that the Kaunas Tourism Board contacted me, following the recommendation of a colleague. They were looking for a travel blogger focusing on Jewish heritage, and I matched that. Of course I also sent them my site data like number of users, views, social media followers, etc.
Talia: I met Ieva from the Kaunas Tourism Board at the IMTM conference in Israel in February, 2018. My main selling point is, and always will be, my Facebook community, Traveling Overseas with Kids.
Tal: After speaking to Ieva at IMTM, I sent over my media kit, which includes my traffic and followers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, as well as the names of other companies and tourism boards I’ve worked with.
Shir Yam: The Kaunas Tourism Board invited me, thanks to our introduction at IMTM. They realized the added value that my blog can offer – great exposure to the audience of Israeli travelers, especially those who like different and less well-known destinations.
Gili: I have 5 options in the Israeli media as a freelance journalist-blogger which are: My blog: Travel with Gili in Hebrew and an English page. I write for the Globes-G magazine; I have a prime time segment on the radio on Friday; and I write for Lametayel – the biggest travel website, plus my artistic photos.
For the purpose of a collaboration with a city or a region, what is special about your blog?
Michal: My Blog is dedicated to urban lifestyle and city breaks. I write a lot about street art, architecture and design. I also write about traveling with kids and I committed to write one post on this topic as well.
Adi: My blog addresses the growing and developing market of religious tourists, who are increasingly traveling abroad, and looking for kosher solutions. In addition, my blog focuses on Jewish heritage that interests Jewish audiences from all over the world.
Talia: My group is, by far, the largest group for international family travel from Israel, so many tourism boards and hotels approach me to promote their locations. The bonus with families is that there are a lot of us who travel and we go for a long time (on average 10 days, but anywhere between 7-14 days). Few Israeli families travel for less than a week, and those who do usually travel around Christmas time.
Tal: I have an audience that appreciates cultural travel, especially architecture, art and design. Kaunas has a unique street art scene and is known for its modernist architecture. I have a loyal and engaged following on social media and my followers look for new and interesting destinations to discover.
Shir Yam: Tens of thousands of people come into my blog every month, which offers great exposure. In addition to organic exposure through Google, there is a large number of regular followers, who know that the places I choose to visit are interesting and rely on my recommendations.
Gili: In my blog Travel with Gili I created a niche: Enjoying Alone. It’s not only about “solo-travel” but I developed a skill that I wanted to share and spread. In Kaunas I exposed my audience (which is mainly women aged 35-75 years old) to amazing lifestyle, street art, special museums, a great culinary scene and more.
What new things did you reveal in your visit that added value to it?
Michal: I learned a lot about the history of Kaunas and about its modernist architecture and got to see some special street art. I also ate Lithuanian food which was surprisingly good!
Adi: On my visit to Kaunas, I was exposed to the city’s rich Jewish heritage: I visited and reviewed important historical Jewish sites, found special synagogues and wrote about them, and even found a kosher food solution for religious travelers.
Talia: My husband and I always research the location and see where we would like to visit. We send the list to the local tourism board, they review it, give us their input and add other attractions that we may have missed.
Shir Yam: My blog’s audience loves special attractions so we decided to experience a hot air balloon flight. This experience attracted many readers of the blog to visit Kaunas, thanks to Lithuania’s unique option that offers hot air balloon flights over populated areas.
Gili: The best things are crossing my way spontaneously. When Mrs. Bella Shirin invited me to visit the “court gallery”, we didn’t plan that the artist who created it, Mr. Vytenis Jakas, will be giving me an exclusive interview. Discovering the botanical garden was a complete surprise-an oasis and a unique gem on the edge of the city.
What was the outcome of your visit? How many publications? Where?
Adi: I wrote about Kaunas on my travel blog. The article received (in the meantime) about 2,350 views, 1100 are unique users.
Talia: I published our post about Kaunas a few weeks after I returned. We had actually extended our trip and added a few days in Vilnius as well, so we ended up having a really wonderful, well-rounded post.
Tal: I shared posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during my time in Kaunas and published three posts on my site following my visit:
- A long and detailed city guide. It was shared on social media over 1000 times.
- A guide to Kaunas for vegans
- Street art in Kaunas
Shir Yam: I wrote 4 blog posts related to my visit to Kaunas, uploaded a video of the trip that reached tens of thousands of exposures on social networks. Throughout the trip, I shared stories on Instagram, and at the end of each day, I wrote a Facebook post detailing the day we had. In addition, I wrote about my visit to Kaunas on a major newspaper.
Gili: My article was published in the prestigious Globes newspaper: 3 pages with my photos. A segment on the radio-Reshet B Kol Israel – 9 minutes, on the 2 of August 2019. I published 3 posts on my blog: 2 about street art (link | link) and one about the best restaurants and shopping.
Do you have any tips to share about planning a visit-with a tourist board or other ways of collaboration?
Michal: My tip is that it is very important to have a tailor made tour for a specific blogger. This way, you can ensure that what she writes is tailored to her blog’s target audience.
Adi: It’s very important to coordinate expectations in advance, it is also important to be involved in the itinerary and adapt it to the blog’s target audience. In addition, after the trip I make sure to send to the tourism office accurate advertising data, including analytics screen shots.
Shir Yam: It is very important to make clear before the collaboration begins what the goals of the cooperation are and what each party wants to achieve from the cooperation.
Gili: I think from my side as an experienced writer, anyone that looks for a fruitful collaboration with a blogger should learn about him/her not just in terms of numbers of followers, but the quality of HOW he/she writes.
About the Author: Gili Mazza is a journalist-blogger-photographer that is writing for leading newspapers and websites in Israel and owns :”Travel with Gili”, a blog in Hebrew and a page in English.
Main image: The botanical garden of Kaunas by Gili Mazza.