As a travel blogger I’m often the one working on cool travel campaigns that seek to expose travellers to lesser known destinations around the world – that’s not what this post is about. This is the story of how a blogger campaign launched by Visit South Africa worked on me and caused me to book tickets to discover the country for myself. As it turns out, blogger campaigns also work on bloggers…
Up until 2 years ago my knowledge of the country was next to nil. I knew you could go on safari, that Nelson Mandela had been jailed on Robben Island, that the country had hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and that my South African friend Lisl really liked to eat something called ‘biltong’. That was it.
Sure, I could find the country on a world map, but if you had asked me to list a few of the country’s main touristic attractions I would have been stumped!
But then, about two years ago, South Africa started to pop into my travel radar. This country that was once completely foreign to me suddenly captured my interest and I began to read blog posts, watch YouTube videos, and daydream over photos posted on Instagram.
Why the sudden interest? Bloggers. Travel bloggers to be precise.
Back in 2013 South Africa launched its #MeetSouthAfrica campaign. Travel bloggers were invited to come and explore every corner of the country and share their experiences with readers on their blogs and social media platforms.
Since aside from writing this blog I like to read other blogs not just for travel planning but also for inspiration, I devoured the content and started to store these destinations in my mind – Stellenbosch for touring vineyards and sampling wine, Cintsa for laid-back coastal vibes, Kruger National Park to come face to face with the Big Five, the Garden Route for one of the most scenic drives in the country, and Cape Town for a look at one of the most beautiful skylines in the world – just to name a few.
Even though I had no immediate plans to travel to South Africa at the time, the idea started to brew in my head, and as time passed, my husband and I began to seriously consider going there.
And then, the day came.
On Christmas morning of 2014 I woke up and went on Facebook – only because no one in my house was awake yet and not because I’m addicted to social media! Imagine my surprise and excitement when I saw that a friend of mine had shared an amazing deal for flights with Etihad. Some of the featured destinations included places like Abu Dhabi, the Seychelles, Manila…and Johannesburg. Not only that, but the total price for return flights from New York City to Johannesburg was just a little over 300 USD. If that price is not a sign that you should book immediately, I don’t know what is!
It took my husband and me a little over 2 minutes before we talked logistics at 500 words per minute, hastily flipped through a calendar, pulled out a credit card, and hit BOOK IT before this too-good-to-be-true deal vanished! We were finally going to visit South Africa. Merry Christmas to us!!!
That was 5 months ago. As I write this I am in South Africa backpacking from Johannesburg to Cape Town with husband in tow. We are only 1 week into the adventure, but these past few days have been nothing short of spectacular! From spotting the Big Five on safari, to hiking the majestic Drakensberg, to kayaking in Wilderness, South Africa has been blowing our minds around every corner and the trip is not over yet.
I think back to what it took to get me here, and aside from glitch airfares I also have bloggers to thank. They helped showcase the country through their stories and unique perspectives, and they provided first-hand tips when it came time to plotting the destinations. So to those travel bloggers who travelled to South Africa before me, I raise a virtual glass of Castle Lager to you while I munch away on my biltong.
Have you been inspired to visit a place because of blogger campaigns?
Feel free to share your stories in the comments below.