Talking About Kraków

28 September 2020

Surprising numbers, a new way of thinking about tourism, kayaking in Kraków and a mysterious peacock… We talk to Michał Zalewski, KBF’s spokesman and member of the board of directors, about the social campaign “Become a Visitor in Your Own City. Explore Kraków”.

How successful has been the campaign to convince Cracovians to become tourists in their own city?
Michał Zalewski
: The message coming through is a resounding yes! The power of social media puts us in direct contact with the target audience of the campaign “Become a Visitor in Your Own City. Explore Kraków” operated by KBF and we can see their active involvement. We are delighted with the positive reception and extensive media coverage. The fact that journalists still want to talk and write about the campaign confirms that it has met its primary goal: it has shifted the social attitude towards what tourism is and how we can explore our city.

So what’s behind the success?
We realised at the very start of the pandemic lockdown that the tourist industry is soon going to find itself in crisis. So we decided to keep two steps ahead and think how we can even talk about tourism given the situation. We didn’t want to suddenly wake up in mid-May with zero tourism and zero publicity on Kraków. That’s why we decided to start by launching an information campaign to maintain public interest in Kraków’s urban brand.
The task we set ourselves with our campaign is made clear with the name “Become a Visitor in Your Own City. Explore Kraków”, encouraging locals to go out sightseeing and getting active, which in turn has a positive impact on the economy. We are not talking about it having a massive impact, because of course as locals we behave differently from tourists – but we have certainly been successful. We have received feedback from businesses involved with the campaign, telling us about regular or brand-new customers attracted by the “Become a Visitor...” slogan, which has helped them survive the worst.

How many businesses have joined the campaign?
There are currently over 650, with the vast majority from the hospitality sector. Also, there are many Cracovian cultural institutions who have been able to reach greater audiences through the campaign’s social media. Notably, the followers came to us of their own accord and quickly became involved, joining us on Facebook and Instagram. Not only that – their numbers are growing! And I see this as the greatest communication success of this campaign.

What numbers are we talking about?
Even we were surprised, and we produced the campaign! Since its launch on 30 April, there have been about 4300 publications in the media including the slogan “Become a Visitor in Your Own City. Explore Kraków”. Our Facebook page currently has over 10,000 followers, which is great for a campaign ran on a shoestring budget. On Instagram we have around 4000 followers, and another 4000 in our Facebook group “Become a Visitor – Explore Kraków”. This space allows members to present themselves to Cracovians. The group has taken on a life of its own, and we are truly delighted that so many people use it to follow and share the latest information about Kraków.
Two pieces of information which have been the most surprising are also the most important, because they have had a positive impact on promoting Kraków as a brand. The first is the total budget we would have needed for traditional advertising to reach the current level of audiences. This comes to around 2,540,000 zlotys – something we absolutely couldn’t have afforded to invest in press or radio advertising. Additionally, according to the Institute of Media Monitoring, our campaign has reached around 8,850,000 viewers. These numbers aren’t just surprising – they are absolutely wonderful, although of course we are aware the results of the campaign are a drop in the ocean of the needs of Kraków’s institutions and businesses.

What has been the most successful part of the campaign?
We joined the Department of Tourism of the Municipal Office of the City of Kraków in inviting Cracovians to attend guided tours. The campaign runs until the end of October, and it will have featured seventy walks by the end. It turned out to be a huge hit: every weekend we host four walks, and every time passes have been distributed in just a couple of hours.

Which elements of the campaign have the greatest potential for the future? What have we learned from it?
I’m really encouraged by the fact that many businesses have found a platform for communicating with Cracovians and showed that they exist for them as well as for tourists. The campaign has helped us to gain a fresh insight into what our city has to offer, and understand that it’s for all of us.
I am also delighted that we have been able to show how cosmopolitan Kraków is. As a result of the cooperation with the Office of the Mayor of the City of Kraków we have been joined by consulates in preparing the guided tours published on Kraków Travel, the official tourist portal ran by KBF. This means we have been able to prepare such walks as the American Way and Vive le Cracovie.

Have you become a tourist in your own city?
I have! For example, I discovered that you can feel like you’re in a lake district without leaving Kraków by kayaking down the Dłubnia River in Nowa Huta. It was a great experience and I can highly recommend it!
Instagram is full of snaps taken by us, operators of the campaign, and Cracovians living in all corners of the city. I live in the Salwator district, yet I had no idea that one of the buildings just a few streets away is decorated with a huge peacock – the bird must be about three storeys tall! I’m sure there are plenty of other people who have discovered similar hidden gems.
One of my personal favourites is one of nearly forty walks suggested by Kraków Travel. Back in June, on Children’s Day, I took my nephew for a walk in search of animals on tenement houses. And, even though it poured with rain, we had a great day wandering around, looking out for a singing frog here, a golden fish there...

What are the campaign’s plans for the future?
As I mentioned, the guided walks are held until the end of October, and we are continuing to run an information campaign. We will start limiting our activities as we head deeper into autumn and winter. We are scaling back our Facebook presence and focusing on Instagram, because it is the perfect medium for showcasing the beauty of Kraków. And we will be making a fresh, invigorated return in spring!
Since we are starting to roll back the first instalment, on behalf of KBF I would like thank all participating institutions and local residents for such a positive reception of our campaign. We are certain that tourism will return to Kraków, and we hope that following recent experiences it will turn more sustainable and more inclusive of Cracovians themselves.

Interviewed by Barbara Skowrońska

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