I’m in South Africa because blogger campaigns work…

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…

Why travel blogger campaigns work

South Africa.

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.

29 Comments

  • Allison says:

    Ahh yes, I too have noticed that a lot of the big blogs have been in Africa lately, and am feeling nudged to go. I decided to go to Ko Lanta partially because of Adventurous Kate (though there were other factors!) I’m always more inclined to go places others have vouched for, obviously!

    Allison
    http://www.headelsewhere.com

  • Hayley Simpson says:

    To be honest, the Philippines were never on my travel radar, but after seeing many travel bloggers visit the country over the last couple of years and viewing their incredible photos, it is definitely somewhere I want to see soon.
    Hayley Simpson recently posted..Why You Should NOT Boycott BaliMy Profile

  • Such a great deal, and it’s so cool that you guys could take advantage!
    I’m looking forward to seeing how many things on your list you get to!
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..That Was A Mistake: Skating In QatarMy Profile

  • I LOVE the feeling of booking a deal on flights! It is always a rush. South Africa has so much to offer and I can’t wait to see it. One place I have traveled that comes to mind after researching other bloggers is Palawan Island in the Philippines. It is often left out of itineraries to the Philippines because of how far away it is, but I am glad there were other bloggers that convinced me to go.

  • Anita says:

    It’s so cool that you’ve jumped on that opportunity! I’m looking forward to hearing from all that trip!
    Anita recently posted..Raphaëlle. Flight Paris-Los Angeles │ My Father The Hero.My Profile

  • What a great price of flight. I would do the same LOL!
    And yes, of course I have been inspired by other bloggers to visit a location as others get inspired by my blog. I live in Berlin and you won’t be surprised by how many questions I get about not only visiting, but life as an expat. I’ve also written about some obscure places in Poland, the Czech Republic and recently, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia & Finland. In fact, I got inspired to go to Latvia by another blogger who used to live there, and she got inspired to move to Berlin because she read my posts!
    It’s a full circle. Last year, bloggers were all over Sri Lanka & Puglia so yes, I wanna go there toooooo LOL!
    Victoria@ The British Berliner recently posted..How I went to TBEX EUROPE, got abandoned at Barcelona Airport & what I learnt!My Profile

  • Corinne says:

    South Africa is stunning…and lucky you with those tickets! Have fun.
    Corinne recently posted..Visiting Volubilis – A UNESCO World Heritage SiteMy Profile

  • Renuka says:

    Of course, I get inspired to visit places because of travel blogs all the time! There have been readers who have found inspiration on my blog, too. It’s nice and uplifting for everyone. Waiting to hear about your SA adventures.
    Renuka recently posted..An Abode Of Lushness And Tranquillity In Dombe VillageMy Profile

  • Ashley says:

    So many new destinations are now on my radar thanks to travel bloggers! Your Vietnam posts inspired me and provided me with logistical information before I visited! South Africa is an incredible country, and I look forward to reading about your experiences there. I’m sure they will only make me want to revisit more, though!
    Ashley recently posted..Eating My Way Through London’s MarketsMy Profile

  • herbert says:

    I was inspired by you and Sam to go Istanbul last September. I had a amazing time and I definitely need to go back to explore the Asian past of the city.
    Loving your blogs! Have a amazing time in South Africa 🙂

  • Jen Joslin says:

    Without a doubt! Reading about other travelers’ experiences in different places is a huge influence on where my husband and I choose to travel. It’s pretty much the only way we find out about new places to go and what to do there. Hope you guys continue having an amazing adventure in SA. Can’t wait to read more about your experiences!

  • Yes, Audrey you are so right! We also found South Africa so inspiring after reading a few blogs. We packed our bags and went on South African adventure for a month. And what a month it was… 🙂 It is definitely a must visit destination!
    Tina & Adriano recently posted..Protea Fire and Ice Johannesburg ReviewMy Profile

  • George Jeffery says:

    Well one of many sayings is that “life is a series of missed opportunities”. Well it sounds like you and your husband are not going to miss too many. As a matter of fact, you two are making it very difficult for us(your husband’s parents)to catch up to where you’ve been already. But, we are going to fun trying 🙂

  • Hi Audrey! I loved this post. Thanks for sharing your experience and how you were inspired by bloggers in South Africa. Enjoy SA and let me know if you need anything while you’re there!
    David DiGregorio recently posted..Join Style Hi in Southern Africa! – August 2015My Profile

  • I’m glad you guys booked that trip! I want to visit South Africa too! Hope they’ll also consider tapping the Asian market next 😀
    Micamyx|Senyorita recently posted..Katy Perry Prismatic World Tour at the Philippine ArenaMy Profile

  • Anju@TravelingNoodles.com says:

    I am going to SA soon and am pretty excited about the trip. This blog comes just in time. 🙂

  • Good luck with your trip! Update us with travel tips and info from your journey. And post as many photos as you can!

  • Johannes says:

    One place you have to visit is knysna is is beautiful and you got to take the garden route there so rent a car at the airport or take a bus but the drive down to the coast is amazing i will surely return with my wife very soon … #southafricacoast #beautiful
    Johannes recently posted..Useful Air Travel Tips for Pregnant WomenMy Profile

  • Alyssa says:

    There are so many places I’ve been inspired to go by bloggers, and I think just the idea of travel in general helps! I think that bloggers should start using this post as a case study — that it’s really about building ongoing relationships, not just one-off projects. Have a fabulous time in SA!
    Alyssa recently posted..Surfing in Fuerteventura with Planet Surf CampMy Profile

  • David Stock says:

    We are off on our 52 week overland in three weeks. Cant wait! Blogs inspired us to do what we do now!
    David Stock recently posted..21 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit the MaldivesMy Profile

  • I would never had considered Iceland as a destination until I read about it more, or more accurately looked at a million stunning photos, on blogs. Have fun in South Africa!
    Alana – Paper Planes recently posted..The 4 Things I’ve Learned from 4 Years Living AbroadMy Profile

  • Blogs have been my go-to for travel advice/inspiration for years. Long gone are the times that I’ll put my faith in travel brochures or even TripAdvisor (we’re all so different, right?). If you can find a travel blogger that matches your interests and travel style, it’s golden!

    Your blog has definitely inspired me in Vietnam, where my husband and I visited last year. The Young Adventuress makes me want to go back to Spain and New Zealand for everything that I missed when I visited each country the first time. Legal Nomads makes me want to try and be a bit more adventurous with food anywhere I travel, and the Traveling Canucks are giving me faith that I will be able to keep on traveling when my little nugget is born in six months time!

    Travel blogs are THE way to find out all sides of travel, not just the glossy.
    Victoria | Girl Tries Life recently posted..Book Review: The Royal WeMy Profile

  • Zascha says:

    I have definitely noticed a rise in blog posts about South Africa in the past year or so. And I can understand why everyone wants to go there. I can understand why YOU want to go there.
    If it wasn’t because I was on my way to summer camp in New York in two weeks, I would be heading that way. It looks simply amazing from the pictures. Can’t wait to experience it myself one day! 🙂

  • Tash says:

    Hey Audrey,
    This is awesome! Just wondering how long you plan to be in S Africa for in total / how much time you’d recommend? This blog, and your Kruger post are making me want to book, stat!

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Tash, I just finished up 3 weeks travelling through the country. I started in Johannesburg and finished in Cape Town making a total of 7 stops along the way. I saw quite a bit, but it also felt a bit rushed. I feel like I’d need 4-6 weeks to stop everywhere I wanted to and enjoy it at a leisurely pace. Most backpackers I met there were spending a whole month in the country. Hope that helps a bit!

  • Skye Class says:

    This is great. My dad is from South Africa and I can’t wait to get there myself. I’m always looking for more data about what to do there. I still can’t believe you found r/t tickets from NY to Joburg for $300! I look forward to more of your advice on the country for when I visit.

  • Heather says:

    I’m staying at the Helsinki jail hotel this summer thanks to your blog post about it 🙂
    Heather recently posted..72 Hours in Oslo, NorwayMy Profile

  • Casey says:

    Absolutely! I’m currently living in South Korea… because I read your blog! Thanks for the inspiration, Audrey. 🙂

  • Aaron says:

    Great stuff, South Africa really looks like is an amazing destination, somewhere I definitely have to check out for myself.

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