A Tri-Partner FAM experiment aims to bring multiple wins to all involved
Notes from the Field by Kristen Gill, award-winning travel writer & photographer. Having spent some time lately in the Middle East, she now prefers camels to cars.
The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) recently facilitated a joint partnership between Columbia Sportswear and the Jordan Tourism Board which resulted in The Jordan Expedition, a challenging 10 day itinerary in May which hosted select members of outdoor media to test out Columbia’s new line of gear and to learn about adventure travel opportunities in the destination. Their joint goal was to provide fresh and exciting content for journalists, leading to visually rich media hits online, enhanced relationships and more personalized social reviews.
Janine Jervis, Marketing and Communications Manager for Jordan Tourism Board, North America, worked closely with Andy Nordhoff, Public Relations Manager for Columbia Sportswear, to plan an itinerary that would excite the experienced adventure crowd and truly test the limits of the new products. Instead of the classic Petra trail, the group was led through a rigorous backcountry hike up and down canyon trails to reach the famed rose-colored city, and also explored the vast desert of Wadi Rum, the souks of the city of Amman, the Roman ruins of Jerash, the Dana Biosphere Nature Reserve and the rose-colored city of Petra. Traversing remote areas with steep canyons, rugged cliffs, deep valleys and sand dunes, they tried out everything from rock climbing, hiking, trail running, and free-climbing rock formations. The Expedition also went snorkeling and diving in the Red Sea, floated in the Dead Sea and traveled via mixture of camel caravans, mules and jeeps.
“Since the beginning (2008), we have always had a strong relationship with ATTA. We have the ATTA to thank for this unique partnership; we went on their recommendation,” Jervis said, adding, “Columbia Sportswear is a huge, trusted brand in the U.S. Our hope is that the PR piece shows that Jordan is a safe country. Having the backing and reputation of a major brand is a big return on investment for us. We are also trying to grow the adventure market, and once journalists write about our hikes and other adventures it will put Jordan on the map.”
Columbia’s goal was to build awareness around their newest material innovation, the Omni-Freeze ZERO sweat-activated cooling system, which is said to cool the body and offer UPF-rated sun protection in the field – perfect for a trip in an arid desert landscape with temperatures of over 100 degrees for days on end.
Nordoff explained, “The more the media is provided with opportunities to test out gear in real-world situations, the deeper and more accurate and interesting their reviews will be. We wanted to introduce our Spring ’14 line and were looking for a hot spot in the world to expose our media, and Jordan kept coming to the top of this list. Getting the introduction from ATTA to the Jordan Tourism Board was one of the first steps. After talking with Jordan Tourism Board, it became clear that this would be an excellent opportunity for everyone involved. We’ve always been impressed with the ATTA and its mission. Adventure Travel has always been important to Columbia Sportswear since its founding in 1938. We value our relationship with ATTA, and in a lot of ways our mission is similar: to get out and celebrate the outdoors.”
How Will Success Be Measured?
All successful partnerships and FAM trips begin with clear goals and plans for measurement. Jordan Tourism will be tracking the positive articles published about their destination from this group in the coming months, and hope the journalists will continue to post about the trip after returning. They also plan to measure how many new followers they get on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and obtain feedback from Columbia Sportswear on the hashtag created specially for this trip (#tryingstuffinjordan).
The tourism board hopes to build on this collaboration with big name retailers and develop more trips like this in the future. They are open to new collaborations, and look forward to partnering again via the ATTA, especially during and after the Adventure Travel World Summit, which they have helped sponsor for the past several years.
A successful return on investment for Columbia Sportswear would include print and online gear reviews and articles, buzz on social media and increased clothing and gear sales. They are looking to garner accurate coverage of their upcoming line and are working to ensure media have access to world-class content for other stories/assignments they are working on. Building awareness and new advocates for the brand are priorities.
Nordoff explained, “Overall, we want to be seen as the most innovative brand in the outdoors. The more reviews and coverage we get, the more awareness we can build towards that goal. We expect to see lots of deep, rich, visually stunning content being filtered through our social media channels. The more of this we can provide to our fans, the better.”
He added, “These experiential events are important to Columbia Sportswear, and we want to continue to enhance relationships and to test out gear in demanding scenarios. This was a first chance to partner with ATTA and a Tourism Board, and it is exciting to think about future opportunities down the road.”