Video Campaigns Encourage Tourists to Stay Longer in Siem Reap

stay longer in Siem Reap video campaigns
Photo credit: Rafael Winer / FILM+STILLS

Two different YouTube video campaigns run by a cooperative group of local business with the aim of encouraging tourists to stay longer in Siem Reap have met with good receptions.

One Stay Longer campaign, headed by Grasshopper Adventures and Craig Dodge of Phare Circus, produced a single video focusing on tourism-attractant businesses led by or directly benefiting Cambodians. This group launched its video last month to a good response, according to Claire Wyatt, country manager for Grasshopper Adventures Cambodia.

“The feedback was very encouraging,” she says. “People loved the video and businesses were very happy to have quality content they could use for their own marketing.

“We grabbed attention and built some momentum around the launch of the video. As a result, our video has gotten over 10K views across all platforms and accounts in less than a week, all of which happened organically.

“Within a few days, the video had been shared over 600 times and has since led to several media inquiries allowing us to push our message even further. The work continues on this front.”

stay longer in Siem Reap video campaigns
Photo credit: Rafael Winer / FILM+STILLS

The other Stay Longer campaign, featuring eight separate videos, is spearheaded by local business identity and café owner Adam Rodwell, who says the project is the work of seven Siem Reap businesses: The Little Red Fox Espresso, Jaya House Hotels, Treeline Urban Resort, George’s Rhumerie, Phare Cambodian Circus, Wild Frontiers Travel and Mulberry Boutique Hotel.

“With all the negative feelings surrounding tourism numbers I worked with a number of businesses in town to produce a series of eight destination videos,” says Rodwell.

“Two will be released per week, highlighting different aspects of Siem Reap such as dining, drinking, Tonle Sap exploration, Bakong Temple cycling, arts, relaxation, nightlife and performance, and shopping.”

Rodwell says the campaign has already generated a healthy buzz. “The general feedback we have had from the videos has been great so far,” he says. “Everyone, including myself, have their favourites because our particular video campaign is a bit of a tasting plate of what Siem Reap has available.

“Just like we did, anyone can jump under the #staylonger banner. I think now more than ever, we need to focus on what Siem Reap already has because 2020 is proving to be an incredibly difficult year for everyone.

“The more quality and marketable content we have online the better. Not just for Siem Reap in the current time, but also when tourism starts to rebuild – then we need to make sure we are being noticed when people book their holidays.”

Rodwell also pointed out that the music and style of the videos is different to most other Cambodian promotional videos. “And that’s exactly what we wanted,” he says. “Short, different and to the point.”

stay longer in Siem Reap video campaigns
Photo credit: Rafael Winer / FILM+STILLS

Rafael Winer, director of Film+Stills, oversaw the filming and pushed for something a bit different. “Films like this are made in the edit and the music proved to be a key element; all from the late 60s and early 70s,” he says. “A tongue-in-cheek nod to old school sensibilities that went against the expectation of using traditional Khmer music or the latest club music. “Eight short clips were outlined with 3-4 local businesses highlighted in each clip.

I shot at some 35 venues over 3 months with a crew of one, myself, with Adam Rodwell, producing, handling logistics and scheduling. “The intention is to highlight the many things to do here, and to entertain in a short, direct fashion. Hopefully, a second round of clips will be done soon, with other small businesses signing on to help people Stay Longer.”

Adam Rodwell explains that the groundwork for the campaign commenced in 2019 when it became obvious tourist numbers needed boosting. “The seven businesses involved all came together last year as a response to the falling numbers of tourism in Siem Reap,” he says. “We began to strategize on different ideas where we could bring the community together for the benefit of Siem Reap. I proposed series of short videos themed around different elements of Siem Reap, which everyone ultimately supported and away we went.

“It is very common for me to hear tourists say they wished they had booked longer once they arrive whereas others sometimes are not actually aware of the wide range of options Siem Reap has outside of Angkor and the temples. These videos are but a small step in highlighting just a taste of what Siem Reap can deliver in regards to experiences.”

Rodwell adds that the group has received encouragement from the tourism ministry. “A few of us have spoken to different sections of the Ministry of Tourism. Their response has been most encouraging,” he says.

“ I think the ministry, alongside the rest of us, are looking at the state of tourism, not just in Cambodia but Southeast Asia in general, and trying to do our best to adapt to the new reality. If we can instigate more community engaged initiatives like this and work together, we will find ourselves in the best position possible to overcome the hardships that we are looking at for 2020.”

Naida Dizdarevic, regional manager of operations-Asia for Wild Frontiers Travel – one of the business involved in the project – says it’s vital that would-be tourists understand the full potential of a longer stay in Siem Reap.

“There are several factors to why tourism is down in Siem Reap, but one of the main reasons is that people are not aware of what this town has available to them,” she says. “Siem Reap became a destination because of the temples but, as incredible as they are, not many foreigners will choose to stay an extra night or two solely for them. “With these videos, we are hoping that others will see that there is so much more to this wonderful town than the temples and that they will choose Siem Reap, and Cambodia, as a stand-alone destination.”

Peter Olszewski has lived in Siem Reap since March 2008, working for local newspapers. Before coming to Cambodia he lived in Australia, where the Melbourne Age newspaper described him as, “One of Australia’s most colourful journalists.” He has been the leader of The Australian Marijuana Party and senate candidate, has been a university lecturer in journalism, a journalism trainer for the Myanmar Times in Yangon, has authored four books and is an old white male.