Places + Spaces

How VisitOSLO Redirected Frustrated Travelers Toward Its Uncrowded Charms

VisitOSLO came up with a fun way to demonstrate the unique appeal of the Norwegian capital to travelers tired of battling crowds.

Stand-up paddleboarding in Oslo, Norway’s captial.

VisitOSLO wanted travelers to know that Oslo, Norway, has just as many attractions as better-known European cities, but minus the crowds. So earlier this year, VisitOSLO, in partnership with the Oslo Brand Alliance, concocted a social-media campaign — “The Great Escape” — which involved finding disgruntled tourists in a busier European city and “rescuing” them from the endless swarms of people by flying them to Oslo.

“We wanted to do something a little bit different promoting our destination,” Annie Kristi Korsmo, director of meetings and events for Visit Oslo, explained.

The VisitOSLO team was scouring Instagram in search of unhappy tourists when they stumbled upon the hashtag #vacayfail, attached to a post by a New Zealand couple who could not see the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre Museum in Paris because of the dense crowds  of people.“[The hashtag] obviously meant that they were not happy,” Korsmo said,”so we thought, okay, were going to try and make them happy again by giving them a great experience.”

VisitOSLO contacted the couple through Instagram and arranged for them to travel to Oslo, where they filmed the couple’s experiences — a video that has now received five million views on YouTube and Facebook.

During the couple’s two-day trip, the couple toured attractions including the Munch Museum, where “The Scream” painting is housed, and treated them to stand-up paddle boarding and a bike tour using the city’s app-connected bicycles. Showcasing ways in which the Norwegian capital is distinct from other European cities is not only VisitOSLO’s strategy for attracting tourists, but for meetings as well, Korsmo said.

“We take part in big international trade shows and we also have close contact with international congress organizations, and basically,” Korsmo said, “it’s all about focusing on the uniqueness.”

While many people have heard of Oslo, far fewer have actually visited the city — which is why VisitOSLO likes to market the area as an “undiscovered destination.” Korsmo told Convene that the organization is focusing on putting Oslo on the map, in part by using social media campaigns.

“Using the ‘Escape’ example at trade shows we take part in is showing a different angle of the city and then connecting that to Oslo’s business, as well,” Korsmo said. “Basically, we want to show the uniqueness and get people to have Oslo on the top of their minds when they’re thinking about congresses and corporate activities.”

Casey Gale