Announcing the First Annual Sightseer Awards Winners


At Sightseer Magazine, we are constantly witness to the amazing work being done by travel marketers that pushes not only the industry forward but also marketing as a whole. The Sightseer Awards recognize the best in digital and social travel marketing to honor this work and encourage further advancements. This year’s categories included: Best Overall Campaign, Best Use of Social Influencers, Best Use of User-Generated Content and Travel Marketer of the Year!

The process began with travel marketers around the globe submitting their best performing campaigns from last year. Judges took into account budgets, goals, lessons learned, results and originality when scoring entrants.



We were honored to have experts and leaders in travel marketing and social media judge this year’s finalists.

Eva Taylor - Sr. Manager, Global Social Marketing at Hootsuite

Sightseer: Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your role at Hootsuite?

Eva: I lead the social marketing team at Hootsuite: this includes overseeing our global social strategy as well as demonstrating the value of social to the organization. Prior to Hootsuite, I've led campaigns and digital strategy at startups, agencies and large-scale companies, working with brands such as Microsoft, Tourism Vancouver and lululemon. I'm very passionate about technology and social media, so I also volunteer quite a bit of my time to the community - for example, I'm currently a Social Media Principal for Women in Tech World, a volunteer-led group based in Vancouver.

S: Was there a specific campaign or tactic that particularly wowed you from this year's Awards finalists?

E: I was very impressed by how many of the finalists had a truly unique component or feature within their campaign that really helped it stand out from the crowd, ranging from creative ad formats to social-first video to influencer marketing. As one example, the Montana Office of Tourism really made the most of their user generated content by incorporating moving elements into the photos submitted, which resulted in some highly engaging and eye-catching content. It may not seem like an overly complex idea at a glance, but this was an excellent creative component that further contributed to an overall very strong integrated campaign.

S: Are there any overall trends that stood out to you from this year's Awards finalists?

E: Strong visual imagery and in-depth storytelling appeared in most, if not all, of the campaigns. A lot of the campaigns also showcased distinct features of the individual communities, such as popular local cuisines to introduce viewers to the unique tastes and culture of that particular region. There was also heavy use of video, which is a great fit for destination marketing.

S: Coming from Hootsuite, you engage with a wide variety of marketers from many industries. But when is comes specifically to travel and social media, what is a key trend that you see as important for the industry to keep in mind in 2018 and beyond?

E: One of the key trends that we've noticed is a decline in trust with traditional institutions, while peer influence is on the rise. This means that genuine advocates - ranging from fans to customers to employees - are more relevant than ever before. This also applies to influencers, where smaller (but passionate) niche communities can be a great place to share experiences and connect with travelers. In terms of content, social video and the use of augmented reality (for example, to power virtual tours) will also be two areas that I expect to grow considerably over the coming year.


Chuck Davison - President and CEO at Visit SLO CAL

Sightseer: Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your history in travel marketing?

Chuck: I’ve been the President and CEO at Visit SLO CAL for 3 years. Prior to that I was contracted to develop the Tourism Marketing District assessment that quadrupled our organizations budget in 2015. In the past 3 years, a few key Visit SLO CAL initiatives have included: rebranding the destination, doubling our air service including adding flights from two new states, planning for a countywide conference center and launching a new award winning advertising campaign and a new website.  Prior to moving to SLO CAL, I was general manager of North America for Expedia and prior to that I was VP of Marketing and Sales of four hotels in Las Vegas. My travel marketing experience dates back 26 years to my internship days while I was attending UNLV.

S: Was there a specific campaign or tactic that particularly wowed you from this year's Awards finalists?

C: The Louisiana Travel Destination Recipe Videos campaign was impressive and absolutely on brand for their destination.  It resonated with the consumer, based on 3.8M video views and brought the experience of Louisiana’s food scene into kitchen’s around the world.  Impressive to say the least.

S: Are there any overall trends that stood out to you from this year's Awards finalists?

C: Not only is the competition of destination marketing increasing and getting stronger every year, but the campaigns are becoming so much more authentic and diverse based on the differences across all our amazing destinations.  It is great to see communities embracing their unique assets and showcasing those in new and exciting ways that are palatable to the consumer.

S: When it comes to travel and social media, what key trend that you see as important for the industry to keep in mind in 2018 and beyond?

C: We have never been in the mist of more change than we are today so we have to listen, be aware and adapt. Consumers want what they want when they want it, but you can’t be all digital all the time.  Consumers are looking for connection. Customers expect businesses to care. Our focus has to be around creating moments that our customers can turn into memories that ultimately last a lifetime and lead to ambassadors for our destinations.  At the marketing core, it’s what we do.


Taisa Veras - Director of Social Media at NYC & Company

Sightseer: Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your role at NYC & Company?

Taisa: I’m the Director of Social Media at NYC & Company. In my role, I oversee the strategy and execution of all social media channels both domestic and international. My focus is to utilize social to raise the profile of New York City and to inspire travel, exploration and positive word of mouth about the five boroughs. I also support vibrancy marketing programs such as NYC Restaurant Week, Broadway Week, Off-Broadway Week, Must-See Week and the #SeeYourCity UGC campaign initiative. I work with various media agencies that oversee the social paid efforts for big campaign initiatives and manage our Chinese social media agency.

Before joining NYC & Company, I was a Digital Marketing Manager for various brands in the beauty, wellness, and fashion industries. I also worked in the tech industry at SaaS company Percolate and at a fashion tech startup in London called Shopa. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications. I also completed a Digital Marketing certificate from the technology school General Assembly.

S: Was there a specific campaign or tactic that particularly wowed you from this year's Awards finalists?

T: San Francisco Travel’s “Summer of Love 50th Anniversary” campaign had various tactics that were exemplary and my favorite was the fact that they were able to activate online and offline with clear CTAs that kept their audience engaged throughout the campaign.

S: Are there any overall trends that stood out to you from this year's Awards Finalists?

T: I noticed that lot of DMOs are incorporating influencer marketing into their campaigns, which is great and they seem to be getting ROI from it.

S: When it comes to travel and social media, what key trend that you see as important for the industry to keep in mind in 2018 and beyond?

T: Digital-first approach with mobile and video are two of the key trends that I see as important to keep in mind this year. Research shows that social will dominate time spent on mobile this year and that customers will integrate social deeper into their purchase journey.


Best Overall Campaign: San Francisco Travel Association

In 2017, San Francisco marked the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love with citywide events, including concerts, exhibitions, and festivals. To encourage visitors to travel to San Francisco during this celebration, San Francisco Travel, the official destination marketing organization for the City by the Bay, launched a prolonged, strategic marketing campaign focused on the once-in-a-lifetime value of experiencing San Francisco at this specific moment.

The Summer of Love campaign targeted all markets: consumer, business, trade, and media. It was composed of fresh, innovative digital and real-world assets. It was an international effort, with the main office in San Francisco coordinating with representatives in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia. The campaign also included a national paid media push targeting key B2C and B2B audiences.


Best Use of Social Influencers: The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel with agency MMGY Global

The best shelling in the world isn't somewhere exotic and far away - it's on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel - where the ever-changing tides wash over 400 local varieties of shells along the shoreline. But what is shelling? And why is it worth celebrating, or shellebrating? In order to highlight what sets the destination apart from other Florida beaches, an integrated social media + PR campaign was born.

To coincide with National Seashell Day, which is also the first day of summer, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel launched a Summer Shellcation social media campaign to keep the destination top of mind during the summer travel planning season. Through influencer marketing, social media promotion, and a sweepstakes, they generated online inspiration and drove consumers further into the travel planning process.   

Best Use of User-Generated Content: Helsinki Marketing Ltd with agency Idean Enterprises Ltd

Helsinki is the Baltic Sea’s best-kept secret. With a sizzling food scene and a thriving start-up ecosystem, the city has a lot to offer—and yet it’s still overshadowed by its neighbors Stockholm and Copenhagen as a destination for visitors and talent. In response, the city has been evolving its marketing to highlight the unique experiences locals and visitors enjoy in Helsinki, including the opportunities and quality of life Helsinki can offer to international talent.

The goal was to design a service that will help people find the best of Helsinki in a personal, inspiring and mobile-friendly package for both visitors along with locals and talent interested in moving to Helsinki, which led to the creation of Your local guide to Helsinki, is an inspirational, personal and social window into the best of the city. It offers you a recommendation you can trust. All content and recommendations on the site are made by local tastemakers.


Travel Marketer of the Year: Andy MacLellan from VERB Interactive, Inc.

As President and CEO of VERB Interactive, Inc., Andy has been the guiding force in achieving the agency’s goals and accolades, which include 19 Adrian Awards for travel marketing in 2017 and closing  new business with major brands across the US and Canada including Destination British Columbia and sbe.
Thirteen years ago, VERB was a team of two, based in Halifax. Since then, the team has grown exponentially to a team of 74 in 2016 and then 107 and growing, today. VERB is now a leader in the digital marketing space in Canada and the US and creates award-winning work for the world's biggest, most luxurious travel brands and destinations.

In the next issue of Sightseer: profiles on each winner and the Travel Marketer of the Year reveal!