How Lonely Planet India Promotes Short Escapes Through Escape Express On Social Media

A review of Lonely Planet India's 'Escape Express' Social Media campaign to promote the Short Escapes series travel guides, where fans can hop on board a virtual train to answer questions and win prizes

Lonely Planet India, the one-stop destination to know about the best places to visit in India, has launched the ‘Escape Express’, a campaign that takes you on a virtual train journey from Delhi to Mumbai and Bengaluru, while enlightening you about the cool getaways from each of the cities.

‘Escape Express’ will also throw an array of questions on the way, the answers for which can be found in the Lonely Planet Short Escapes series, a travel guide for city folks looking for a quick escape. In addition, participants can share their travel stories and get featured on the travel guide’s website, among tangible prizes like iPads or Nikon cameras, iPad Mini, gift vouchers, sling bags by Lonely Planet and of course the Short Escapes travel guides!

Escape Express

The ongoing month-long campaign is being run in two phases. A dedicated website will track your progress after you register with your name, email and contact number. Phase 1 consists of questions related to each of the Escapes from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and correct answers earn you kilometers and also allow you to enter the next phase. Phase 1 also has surprise questions thrown in, that can win you cool goodies for right answers.Lonely_planet_escape_express_webste

In Phase 2, you need to share your memorable travel experiences ‘Escape Diaries’ in the form of stories, pictures or videos and get your friends and family to vote for your submission. The Escape Express is now at phase 2 voting with exciting travel stories experienced in short escapes at beaches and mountains near these cities.

The neatly designed website provides a Facebook Connect at the time of registration, which makes it really simple to board on to the Escape Express. Once you login, you can view tasks and the miles you have made. Click on any to get started. You have the option to invite your friends from Facebook as well as Gmail.

The tasks are multiple-choice questions about the different escapes in each city. Even if you get a certain answer wrong, you can still cross that level by answering a simple question. These answers can be shared on Twitter and Facebook while you continue with the contest. But, it takes a Great Escape series to cross all the legs smoothly to enter Phase 2.

Escape Express buzz on social

The campaign has made good use of social media platforms to create the required buzz, even prior to the contest. The Facebook page of Lonely Planet India had started gearing up fans a few days before the arrival of Escape Express with a bunch of visual teaser updates. Fans were lured into  boarding the virtual train with pictures of  the prizes and a visual countdown towards the arrival, before eventually announcing the contest.

Since then, the Facebook wall has been alive with the progress of the virtual journey of Escape Express as it moves through Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, inviting fans to go on board with the mini contests like Surprise question, most creative tweet, etc. In between of sharing the contest progress, the wall makes sure to share getaways, that are featured in the Short Escapes travel guides.

The wall has an update to reflect every leg, every phase, every mini contest in the virtual journey.

Twitter, the local and global townsquare is not far behind. The 140-charactered social network is brimming with conversations around the hashtag #EscapeExpress. The hashtag has been floating around for the most creative tweet contest, as well as while sharing the Escape diaries on Twitter, and asking for votes.

How cool is it?

Its awesome! The concept, the design and execution, the prizes - all together form a formidable trio that will have the city traveller flocking to get his copy of the Short Escapes series from Lonely Planet. As a campaign, the Escape Express works in its objective to help promote the travel guide as well as build a community of informed travellers.

Sharing each milestone of the virtual journey, making it exciting with relevant prizes, beautiful and neat design, smooth execution and navigation make for a good user experience for the fans. Besides, enabling fans to share their travel stories makes for an endearing campaign.

Creating a dedicated website and leveraging social media platforms to drive traffic, is a common social media strategy, however, what differs in the Escape Express is the execution. The campaign is well integrated with Facebook and Twitter to help bring increased visibility and reach among family, friends and extended networks. Each leg of the journey and the mini contests thrown in have been made viral through Facebook and Twitter, along with the social sharing options within the website.

Have you hopped on board the Escape Express? What are your thoughts on it?