Cover Story: In Search of Rejuvenation
So Spain, Portugal and Travel Spike tried the trick that teachers have been using worldwide for years: They made learning fun.
“We developed a new, interactive online game to showcase both destinations,” Bifulco says.
The game, “Exploria,” tested site visitors on their Iberian Peninsula knowledge and gave them a chance to win “the ultimate vacation experience to Portugal and Spain.” This gave Spain and Portugal a chance, too, to showcase their amenities by weaving mentions throughout the site in a way that would later make them searchable keywords. For instance, Exploria asks, “Which town in Portugal produces Port wine?” (Hint: Wine-making Douro Valley includes a city named Porto.)
Travel Spike continued to route potential visitors to the site through many channels, including a three-month-long “Portugal? Spain? Both.” advertisement in Condé Nast Traveler that simultaneously debuted with the site.
Online, players registered to participate in the virtual peninsula journey that lasted from Nov. 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008 and led Web visitors from PortugalSpainBoth.com to both countries’ official tourism Web sites, VisitPortugal.com and Spain.info, to find the right answers to the Exploria questions that changed weekly. There, they could book their vacations. Or, they could reroute themselves from PortugalSpainBoth.com to third-party travel agent sites via a site button titled “Travel Deals.”
After the challenge ended, visitors to PortugalSpainBoth.com’s Exploria page could opt in to receive e-mail notifications about future sweepstakes and promotional offers. (Potential tourists also could sign up to hear about Iberian Peninsula happenings directly on the homepage.)
At the same time, regularly updated on-site blogs detailed what tourists might see when they, for instance, traveled to Spain for New Year’s. Besides celebrating with street parties and fireworks, the “Spanish ‘good luck’ tradition on New Year’s is to eat a grape every time the clock strikes during midnight,” one blog notes.