Hunt is on to find savviest tour guides in Canberra for the Human Brochure

Hunt is on to find savviest tour guides in Canberra for the Human Brochure

It could be called Tourism 101 - the simple idea of Canberrans encouraging their interstate friends and relatives to visit the national capital. But with an edge.

And that's exactly what the next Human Brochure will be all about as VisitCanberra looks to repeat the success of its award-winning tourism campaign that used social media to help increase online chat about the city and ultimately try to entice more people to visit.

HOME HOLIDAY: VisitCanberra director Ian Hill enjoying a day at the Old Bus Depot Markets with his wife, Libby, and their daughters Lily, 3, and Stella, 10 months.

HOME HOLIDAY: VisitCanberra director Ian Hill enjoying a day at the Old Bus Depot Markets with his wife, Libby, and their daughters Lily, 3, and Stella, 10 months.Credit:Katherine Griffiths

This time, 101 Canberrans will be recruited in the city's 101st year to become tourism ambassadors for their territory. They will be given training to increase their tourism knowledge of their own backyard and then asked to invite friends or relatives from interstate to visit for a weekend in October.

Like the first Human Brochure, those selected will be savvy social media users, but this time the bloggers, Facebookers, tweeters and Instagramers will be from Canberra.


On Wednesday - the actual 101st birthday of the naming of Canberra - Visit Canberra is launching a month-long recruitment campaign to enlist its 101 Canberrans and VisitCanberra director Ian Hill knows what he wants.

''One hundred and one social media-loving, adventurous, foodie, arty, crafty, inquisitive, story-telling local humans,'' he said.

''We're really looking for people who have a sense of passion about Canberra, who like to share Canberra, who are connected on social media networks and meaningfully connected. So they do actually write things of substance and are influential within their own circle.'' And like putting up a visitor in the spare room, this version of the Human Brochure is also about being economical. VisitCanberra is working with almost half its budget of the first campaign - $700,000 over two years this time compared to $1.3 million for the first Human Brochure.

The interstate visitors will again be hosted for free in accommodation in Canberra. But they will have to pay their own way to get to the national capital. Tourist operators are also donating their time and some experiences for free to VisitCanberra.

Mr Hill said the first Human Brochure campaign had access to additional centenary funding but he still expected bang for the buck with this project.

''It's a different type of campaign, it's more about engaging the locals,'' he said.

Once the 101 Canberrans are recruited, they will be schooled in some of the finer points of local tourism to ensure they have a ''really good sense of what Canberra has to offer''. The locals alone will have experiences such as meeting the winner of this year's National Photographic Prize at the National Portrait Gallery or meeting the winemaker at the Mount Majura winery.

''We want to really up-skill and build a deep knowledge for our locals so they are the most skilled and up-to-date local chaperones that we can possibly make them,'' Mr Hill said.

''We know they're going to be proud, we know they're going to share, we just want to make sure they have a really rich understanding of what Canberra has to offer.'' The locals will be divided into the same groups as last year - arts and culture, adventure, food and wine and family fun - and will meet influential people in those areas for the behind-the-scenes information.

They will post, tweet and blog as they learn more about their local tourism industry.

The ultimate aim is to invite a friend or relative to visit Canberra on a weekend in October - so if the Canberran is single, they invite a single person; if they are a family of four, they invite a family of four; if they are a couple, they invite a couple.

''We are then going to have a range of VIP experiences that our locals will then get to share with their visiting friends or relatives,'' Mr Hill said.

Those experiences ranged from a private wreath-laying ceremony at the Australian War Memorial with its director Dr Brendan Nelson to a tour of the smokehouse and a masterclass in wine tasting at Poachers Pantry at Hall.

''We want to amplify this by having both the locals and the visitors share this content,'' he said. ''They'll be able to share it through the Human Brochure website, but also we will be feeding it through a new VisitCanberra site, which gets 1.2 million people visiting it each year. So it's about amplifying these advocacy stories of real people doing real things. This is about changing the story-telling of how Canberra is perceived and one of the best ways of doing that is by visiting it and having some of these experiences.'' Mr Hill said the Human Brochure 101 was about building on what was already a lucrative tourism market for Canberra. ''We''ve known for a while that 34 per cent of people who come to Canberra come for the purpose of visiting a friend or relative,'' he said.

''We've got this existing market of people and I think, like most places, the locals have a really big influence on what visitors do, where they go, what sort of experiences they enjoy, how much money they spend in a destination.''

And Canberra was renowned for being a place that people really only started to understand once they delved beneath the surface - something locals could help them with. But the trick was to ensure the visitors came here in the first place.

''Eighty-five per cent of people have their expectations met or exceeded by visiting Canberra,'' Mr Hill said.

''We know once we get them here, they have a good time. So we want them to amplify those stories and we want the locals to be really well-armed with what there is to see and do here. Like most of us, you don't know your own backyard as well as you think you do.'' The first Human Brochure had 500 interstate visitors who were chosen from 31,406 applicants for a free weekend of activities in October 2012 and February 2013. The visitors posted 4952 images on Instagram, made 7782 tweets and 1843 Facebook posts. VisitCanberra says the ''sentiment analysis of the tweets, posts, photos and videos was more than 90 per cent positive''.

The campaign won the national destination marketing award at the Australian Tourism Awards last month.

Megan Doherty is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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