We interviewed Pieter Huijsmans, Marketing Communications and PR Manager at VisitBrabant, to hear how shifting toward creating digital content has changed their marketing strategy, boosted their partnerships with local businesses, and doubled the number of monthly readers.
Tell us about VisitBrabant and your role
VisitBrabant is the official destination marketing organization of the beautiful province of Brabant. At VisitBrabant we combine all that Brabant has to offer, making it more attractive for domestic and international guests to visit our province. I am the head of the Marketing & Communications department and I am responsible for our online and offline marketing strategies.
“Within a year of using Foleon, we have doubled our subscriber count and now have more than 200,000 page views. More people are visiting Brabant for a short stay, and we are convinced that our online magazine plays an important role in increasing the number of visitors to our province.”
Marketing Communications and PR Manager at VisitBrabant
What brings us here to Beekse Bergen?
We are here because aside from being a very beautiful park, it is also one of Brabant’s most iconic tourist attractions. The park is also known to be very family-friendly. We try to attract both domestic and international attention to Brabant with our icons, and the Beekse Bergen is one of them.
The spacious Safari Resort, where you get to sleep among the wild animals, sits on 42 hectares of land and is a unique attraction in Europe.
What challenges were you facing prior to using digital publications?
We have a lot of inspiring content to share, but our previous standard newsletter email format in which we shared the content wasn’t inspiring at all. We had a lot of difficulties with sharing content from beautiful locations like Beekse Bergen or Efteling because there was no way for us to embed videos and images into the old format. We needed a new way to engage our followers and ambassadors and attract potential partners.
What potential solutions did you investigate?
We were looking for an innovative platform that would form the center of our online strategy and let us create and share visually attractive content with all of VisitBrabant’s stakeholders. Our number one requirement was the ability to embed videos into the new format.
Why did you decide a digital publication was the answer?
We were impressed with all of Foleon’s possibilities. The ability to embed videos was the most important to us, and the responsive design possibilities that enabled readers to have a pleasant viewing experience on mobile devices and the ability to easily recreate the magazine in multiple languages were nice pluses. Because we target international tourists, especially those from Germany and Belgium, the latter feature was vital for us. We are now able to translate a publication to another language within a day.
Did you create measurable goals for your publications? If so, what were they?
We didn’t really set goals in numbers, as we were mainly aiming to inspire our followers and tourists. We will leverage the analytics dashboard to begin setting measurable goals in the upcoming year.
How did you experience the transition from your prior format to digital publications?
The transition went really smoothly because shifting to digital content was at the heart of our online strategy. The entire process from the beginning to publishing our first publication took us less than 8 weeks. With this magazine, we created the opportunity to connect bigger icons with smaller propositions and we put different entrepreneurs into the spotlight. The end result was a magazine that showcased how Brabant has everything you need for a fun and invigorating short-stay holiday.
How did Foleon help you with the production of your publications?
In addition to having a variety of features, the Foleon platform is very easy to work with. All we needed to start creating our first publication was an introductory call with Foleon’s designer, who gave us a walk-through of the platform. Furthermore, we are very satisfied with their support team. Any problems we run into are immediately addressed, so we are always able to reach our deadlines.
What measurable benefits have you seen so far?
Within a year of using Foleon, we have doubled the number of subscribers to our magazine and now have more than 200,000 page views. More people are visiting Brabant for a short stay, and we are convinced that our online magazine plays an important role in increasing the number of visitors to all the attractions our province has to offer.
How has your digital publication contributed to the goal you started with?
Our main goal is to inform and inspire consumers who are mainly located in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, but also target visitors from the rest of Europe. Foleon enabled us to created beautiful content that was a huge step up from our standard newsletter. Online magazines are also shared in our digital and social campaigns.
How did your audience respond to the digital publications?
Our audience reacted very positively to our publications. The number of followers we gained and the number of shares on our social channels reflected their enthusiasm. We’ve gotten more subscribers to our free magazine. Additionally, our business partners, which include hotels, restaurants, and other venues, are proactively reaching out to us to secure their spot in the magazines. Our publications are becoming an important part of their online strategies. Furthermore, new businesses are contacting us to become a partner, so they can advertise in our magazines.
How do you handle the distribution of your VisitBrabant magazines?
As a part of our online strategy, we send the publications to our subscribers, partners, stakeholders, and businesses in Brabant. Additionally, we promote our publications on social media where we reach new target groups and consumers.
What are your plans for the future?
This year, we plan to publish 6 to 8 digital magazines. We are gradually adding more types of content such as competitions, blog verticals, and more content from partners like the Beekse Bergen.
What tips would you share with other Foleon users?
I would encourage users to not only think about how to create the magazine but also how to promote it. Creating the magazine is only the beginning of the process. You should focus on expanding your reach and building a follower base after you create your publications.
- Organization: VisitBrabant
- Featured content: VisitBrabant magazine (Brabant is open)