A photo of a mobile phone with a screenshot of the BC Explorer planning tool, with explorer-related items in the background including a camera, field notes journals, wilderness training manual, candle, cup of black coffee and a flannel shirt.

Finding the itinerary behind every picture.

Destination BC

Trip planning with Instagram

Finding the itinerary behind every picture.

It is was an ongoing challenge in destination marketing: How to leverage visitors’ user generated content in a meaningful way that gets results – beyond simply more ‘likes’? We’ve met that challenge and have created a tool that turns UGC into a trip planning and booking tool – turning ‘likers’ into bookers.

Since Destination BC launched the #ExploreBC hashtag, over two million photos have been posted with it on social media – giving travellers a glimpse of some of the most incredible spots across BC. But travellers want more than a glimpse, they want to know how they can experience the amazing places they see. And Destination BC doesn’t just want people to “like” photos online – they want people to book trips.

So we created the BC Explorer – an online trip-planning tool that lets travellers plan their ideal BC adventure using the best Instagram photos from across the province.

People start by choosing their favourite photos to uncover all the details behind them – everything from trail names, nearby accommodation, to local tour operators and more. Then, these photos are plotted on a map of BC, pinpointing their exact locations. Finally, users can share the custom journeys they create with friends on social media.

As a result, the BC Explorer transforms inspirational social content into an actionable means for travellers to explore British Columbia. And with more than 80,000 users in the first month, an average engagement time of five-minutes, plus over 60,000 custom trips created since launching, it’s clear the BC Explorer filled a void. And that nothing beats experiencing BC firsthand.

Webby nominee

Communication Arts Advertising Annual shortlist

A man sitting in front of a campfire at night with the moon in the sky and mountains in the background.

Idea

The Explorer reveals the details behind people’s BC photos — linking travellers to everything from trail names, to local tour operators, to nearby accommodation — so they can experience the incredible things they see.

A photo of a computer monitor and mobile phone showing screenshots of the BC Explorer planning tool, above a background of four men about to go skiing, atop a mountain with a helicopter flying past.

The best of UGC

A curated selection of user-generated photos were gleamed from over two million posted on social media with the #ExploreBC hashtag.

A man climbing a cliff above trees.
A wooden cabin amongst trees, at night with lights on, against a background of stars in the sky.

Inspiration to trip planning

Users can scroll through thousands of incredible BC photos on the homepage, apply filters to see images specific to their interests, save their favourites to create custom trips, and share them with friends.

A screenshot of the BC Explorer planning tool, showing a grid of Instagram posts with the hashtag #ExploreBC.
  • A screenshot from the BC Explorer planning tool, showing a photo of a wooden cabin amongst trees, at night with lights on, against a background of stars in the sky, next to some text with the title "Ocean Village in Tofino, BC" and related links.
  • A screenshot from the BC Explorer planning tool, showing a group of people cross-country skiing, next to some text with the title "Glacier National Park (Canada)" and related links.
  • A screenshot from the BC Explorer planning tool, showing a brown bear swimming in water, next to some text with the title "#BC Parks #Wildlife viewing #Northern British Columbia" and related links.
An Instagram post of a photo of a mobile phone showing a screenshot of the BC Explorer planning tool, with explorer-related items in the background including a camera, field notes journals, wilderness training manual, candle, cup of black coffee and a flannel shirt. The post is by Destination BC, and starts with the text "Meet the BC Explorer. Check out our new trip planning tool to get inspiration from fellow travellers & Customize your next BC vacation."
Comments showing positive feedback by Instagram users on the post by Destination BC introducing the BC Explorer planning tool.
The Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia, surrounded by mist.
A mobile phone screenshot of the BC Explorer planning tool, showing a photo of a man climbing a cliff, with a description underneath and buttons with an "add" icon and a "map" icon next to the words "Add to trip".
A mobile phone screenshot of the BC Explorer planning tool, showing a map with a marker and a popup titled "Squamish, British Columbia" with a photo of a man climbing a cliff.
A mobile phone screenshot of the BC Explorer planning tool, showing a title "Review your trip (3 pics)", with three buttons titled "Map", "Share" and "Tweet", above a photo of a man climbing a cliff.

Proof of concept campaign

To promote it, we ideated a campaign urging people not to “like” BC photos and use the Explorer to experience the incredible things they see instead.

A photo of a hand holding a mobile phone, showing an Instagram post by Destination BC with an image of a lake at night, with a silhouette of trees and stars in the sky. Text over the image reads "Don't like this photo.", and the post text is "Use the BC Explorer to experience it.".
A photo of a billboard on a roadside showing an advertisement for BC Explorer. On the left of the billboard is a photo of a man standing in a river fishing, and on the right is the text "Don't like it. Catch it.". In the bottom right is the text "Super, Natural British Columbia", and in the bottom left is the text "bcexplorer.com".
A photo of a poster on a bus stop shelter showing an advertisement for BC Explorer. At the top of the poster is a photo of a man diving into a lake on a mountaintop, and underneath is the text "Don't like it. Swim it.". In the bottom right is the text "Super, Natural British Columbia", and in the bottom left is the text "bcexplorer.com".
A photo of a billboard at a train station showing an advertisement for BC Explorer. On the left of the billboard is a photo of a man standing on top of a mountain, and on the right is the text "Don't like it. Climb it.". In the bottom right is the text "Super, Natural British Columbia", and in the bottom left is the text "bcexplorer.com".

Results

Since launching, people have created over 100,000 custom trips with an average engagement time of five minutes on the site.

End of the line

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