Engaging Sourcing

Influencer Marketing Lessons Learned Covering Tony Parker’s Basketball Game on a Glacier

This post is part of a series by Danielle Maczynski, a member of the Libris sales & marketing team who is also a freelance photographer and journalist. All photos by Danielle Maczynski. Check out more of her stunning photos in this Libris gallery.

What do Switzerland, Glaciers and Tony Parker have in common?

This is what I wondered when I opened an email from the Swiss Tourism board with a description that read, “come watch Tony Parker play basketball on a glacier 13,000 feet above sea level.”

After rereading that email twice to make sure I hadn’t missed something, I began formulating what that description might actually look like. An open air basketball court, an exclusive crowd, an NBA basketball all-star and an endless snow powdered horizon that melts out of your sightline like the ocean does from the shore. Completely bizarre and totally awesome. I was sold.

I was one of 70 journalists the Swiss Tourism board and its sponsored partner, The Jungfrau Railway, brought to Switzerland to capture the spectacle. This was my first sponsored travel assignment and I couldn’t have been more excited. This trip comes at a pivotal time for destination marketing as the world of digital content continues to grow. More and more DMO’s are working with influencers and sending talented, social media focused creatives to foreign destinations as a way of generating buzz and high quality digital content (check out this story about Visit Greenland’s growing influencer marketing program).

Once I arrived in Jungfrau, it was incredible to see the surreal moment I imagined live up to the real thing. Now, I want to share my tips and experiences so you can create once-in-a-lifetime assignments for your sponsored journalists and influencers.

On the way to Grindelwald.

On the way to Grindelwald.

Partner with other Brands

To make this trip financially viable, the Swiss Tourism Board partnered with the Jungfrau Railway and Tissot to create an unforgettable experience for its invited media and contributors. While the main event in Jungfrau was the basketball game with Tony Parker, that only scratched the surface of opportunities to create great content on this trip.

For example, we stayed in Grindelwald for the first two days before the main event (just a short 15 minute train ride from the main station to Jungfrau). Grindelwald is a tiny town with a lot of charm, but it is often overlooked next to mega destinations like Jungfrau’s Top of Europe. This was a great opportunity for the tourism board to shed light on Grindelwald and hopefully increase opportunities for local and international tourism.

View from Grindelwald on our first morning.

View from Grindelwald on our first morning.

While in Grindelwald, Tissot sponsored a day at the nearest mountain summit called First. While at First we were given free rein to hike to Bachalpsee Lake, tour First’s Cliff Walk, take the “First Flyer” zipline back down the mountain summit as well as try our hand at mountain carting where we cruised by free roaming Swiss cows and gorgeous century old alpine huts (essentially making my job as a photographer a walk in the park).

A photo of me waiting to get launched out of the First Flyer zipline at the top of First summit.

A photo of me waiting to get launched out of the First Flyer zipline at the top of First summit.

All of these extra opportunities would not have been possible without the help of each sponsor. For like-minded travel brands, working together was an easy way to carve out a little slice of the pie.

The Takeaway: Media trips are often locked into a tight budget, so forming relationships and partnering with other on-brand sponsors is a great way to elaborate on a single idea or highlight a number of different destinations and activities.

Give the Content Creators Exclusive Opportunities

Let’s face it. We live in a highly saturated, content heavy world where brands are fighting to stand out with powerful visual content marketing. It’s not about keeping up with the Jones’ but being divergent from the Jones’. Making sure to supply your content creators with new and exciting opportunities can help you differentiate your brand.

The Top of Europe basketball game was undoubtedly the highlight of my experience in Switzerland, and the content we created that day will certainly stand out in social media feeds.

Tony Parker at the Top of Europe event sponsored by Tissot and The Jungfrau Railway.

Tony Parker at the Top of Europe event sponsored by Tissot and The Jungfrau Railway.

But each moment of the trip was an opportunity to create content. Grindelwald was a perfect opportunity to spend time in a rural Swiss town, hike the mountain and collect more of an insider’s perspective before jumping into the main event at Jungfrau.

A parade of cows seen walking through town just at the base of Schynige Platte. This is a yearly tradition that takes place when the cows are brought back down the mountain from summer grazing.

A parade of cows seen walking through town just at the base of Schynige Platte. This is a yearly tradition that takes place when the cows are brought back down the mountain from summer grazing.

We spent one evening at Harder Kulm at the top of Interlaken with the CEO of the Jungfrau Railway, Urs Kessler. Another night was spent at the Widder Hotel in Zurich where we got our first taste of the Food Zurich festival. We shared a catered sushi dinner, got to photograph the city of Zurich from the Penthouse and after went for drinks at the exclusive Widder bar beneath the 5 star hotel.

Sushi at the Widder Hotel in Zurich, apart of the Food Zurich.

Sushi at the Widder Hotel in Zurich, apart of the Food Zurich.

During our entire stay, we rode first class on the SBB railway from each destination with an exclusive pass supported by the Swiss Travel System, LTD.

All of the supporting partners went out of their way to ensure we weren’t scraping together visual or creative opportunities. It was all impressively placed before us.

Our evening after Harder Kulm with CEO, Urs Kessler. View from the bottom of Interlaken waiting for the bus back to Grindelwald.

Our evening after Harder Kulm with CEO, Urs Kessler. View from the bottom of Interlaken waiting for the bus back to Grindelwald.

The Takeaway: Be bold and be different. Think about what sets your destination apart and accentuate it. Thanks to our hosts plans, the other content creators and I can wow our audiences. Spend the time and effort to make sure everything goes off without a hitch so your content creators’ reviews and content will reflect their high quality experiences.

Give Content Creators Freedom

Creatives are wanderers by nature but as the saying goes, “not all who wander are lost.”

This was a huge factor to our trip and some of the best stories were the ones that happened off the beaten path. I became very close with several of the journalists on this trip and it was exciting at the end of the day to come back together and hear how different everyone’s days had been.

With our all inclusive railway pass we were given the freedom to travel anywhere within Switzerland, stopping off wherever we pleased.

Paragliding is a very popular activity in Grindelwald and Interlaken. As long as the weather is nice you can guarantee to see dozens of gliders floating through the sky.

Paragliding is a very popular activity in Grindelwald and Interlaken. As long as the weather is nice you can guarantee to see dozens of gliders floating through the sky.

On our way to Zurich, Lisa Mamounas decided to spend the day in the Swiss capital of Bern after she had learned that there was a free roaming bear sanctuary on the river and wanted to take some photos before continuing on.

Andrew Schrage of Money Crashers had a harrowing experience almost forgetting his passport in a safety lock box in Grindelwald but decided to make light of the situation and in turn spent the day paragliding in Interlaken.

Manifesta Pavillon floating on the Limmat River in Zurich was designed by students at ETH Zurich.

Manifesta Pavillon floating on the Limmat River in Zurich was designed by students at ETH Zurich.

I myself reserved time to explore Zurich alone on the last day and stumbled upon the Manifesta Pavilion. This floating structure on the Limmat River was designed by Swiss students at ETH Zurich. It was equipped with a movie theater, interactive swimming pool and cafe.”

The Takeaway: While it might seem important to have your content creatives follow an outlined program, sometimes there’s beauty in the unexpected. Leave downtime for exploration in a media trip, and see what your creatives discover on their own.

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