Next prominent visitor to isles could be a gnome


POSTED: Thursday, July 23, 2009

In a blatant yet fun publicity stunt that is totally working, online travel service Travelocity.com is asking where the Travelocity Roaming Gnome should go next.

The choices, effective yesterday through 1 p.m. Tuesday, Hawaii time, are Hawaii, Cancun and Jamaica.

The question is being posed and votes solicited via its own Web sites and in social-media circles such as Twitter and Facebook, where some Hawaii users sounded the klaxon call to make sure the 808 state gets a maximum number of votes.

For instance, Nathan Kam, vice president for travel and tourism at McNeil Wilson Communications Inc., posted: “;Hawaii fans! Let's get @Travelocity's Roaming Gnome to Hawaii for his next adventure.”;

The message was “;re-tweeted”; by several tweeps, or Twitter users, and in many cases the message was auto-posted to those users' Facebook and other social media pages.

“;He's been to Chicago, Vegas, he just wrapped up at the Grand Canyon and spent some time in Sedona, and he'll be heading to Philadelphia tomorrow,”; said Joel Frey, Travelocity public relations manager.

As with many social media users, pictures of his gnome-ness' exploits are posted on his Facebook page.

“;It's a riot,”; he said. “;There are 15-second video snippets of him singing in bars, going down waterslides,”; and in Chicago, viewing the city from the new observation deck of the tower formerly called Sears.

Travelocity's quirky marketing using the Roaming Gnome for the past five years has lent itself to successful use of social media.

“;We know that people love the gnome, and that people love the advertising, and it has resonated with customers over the years,”; Frey said.

Getting the gnome out on the road this summer, “;Twitter and Facebook seemed like natural avenues to go generate buzz online,”; he said.

In carrying out the gnome's “;Summer of Possibilities,”; Travelocity is also pitting city against city, destination against destination.

It purposely chose natural rivals for voters to pick from, such as Atlantic City, N.J., versus Las Vegas.




        Vote Travelocity

Facebook: travelocity


Twitter: @HawaiiTeam




Travelocity “;thought Vegas would have won that pretty easily,”; Frey said, but voting was neck and neck and came down to the last day when Las Vegas won by 1,500 votes.

The company encourages destination boosters to “;vote early, vote often,”; Frey chuckled.

“;I think the competitive nature (of the promotion) has really sparked the CVBs (convention and visitor bureaus) and destination marketing organizations to get on board and help spread the word,”; he said.

Even destinations that don't get selected get a promotional bump.

Travelocity does preliminary work with each destination “;letting them know there's a possibility the gnome will be visiting, and seeking assistance and guidance as to where to stay, the different attrac-tions and locales,”; Frey said.

Its advance team set up a Twitter account Tuesday to get the buzz going. The so-called personal assistant with whom the gnome travels is employed by Travelocity's ad agency.

Frey believes any Hawaii stop by the gnome would include each major island, and while Hawaii's multiple islands and long travel time complicate a potential gnome visit, “;that won't deter us,”; Frey said.

After all, the gnome must go on.