Tourism in the Harz has been developing dynamically and positively for several years. Even in the "Corona years", the region was able to record increasing numbers of guests during the lockdown-free periods. Particularly in the area of families, interest in the Harz has demonstrably increased - also thanks to numerous, innovative investments in infrastructure. And this is where the Harz Tourism Association sees further potential for development. For a long time now, the target group has been addressed via the theme marketing "Pure fun - magic formula against the daily grind". The associated advertising focuses on communication with parents as the actual decision-makers.
But: In recent years, family life and especially inter-family communication has changed in many areas. Children are increasingly being brought up to be independent and self-determined personalities and actively involved in family decision-making processes. This also includes deciding on the next travel or excursion destination.
For this reason, the association has been preparing a second marketing approach since 2021, namely that of directly addressing and inspiring children as multipliers. Unlike in other marketing work, the focus is not only on children as secondary users of the experience and infrastructure, but as primary consumers of the advertising and informative customer approach. In this way, their demonstrably active influence is used in the family holiday decision - a new and innovative approach in German tourism.
For a short time now, "Die Brockenbande" has been reporting about the Harz mountains on a specially created website. The four friends Luke, Henry, Hanna and Henry's sister Emma - accompanied by the raven Pjotr - are on the road in the Harz Mountains to deliver reports and podcasts for Uncle Paul's Harz Mountain Radio. Primarily via audio and video recordings, the children are taken to a total of five themed worlds that present the natural, historical, mystical, action-packed and technical sides of the Harz.
In addition, another seven podcasts by the Brocken Gang will reveal exciting secrets, tell stories and present offers in a child-friendly way by the summer. In cooperation with Heinz Hönig, the well-known actor, ten saga radio plays were created to enrich the website imaginatively. The audio recordings are produced in Martin Bolik's Studio Regenbogen not far from Goslar.
Just in time for the launch of the Brockenbande, a magazine in print format has been published that takes you on a journey through the themed worlds and focuses on the special features of the Harz mountains through hands-on activities. The first highlight was the Brockenbande's special stamp booklet for the Harzer Wandernadel (Harz Hiking Needle), which was launched in April to coincide with the opening of the hiking season.
Two pilot projects to integrate the Brockenbande into the local offer and product design of Goslar, Braunlage, Hohegeiß and St. Andreasberg are in preparation and will be launched this year. Since mid-May, the new communication strategy has been extensively advertised to specific target groups. For this purpose, a high-reach online campaign was and is being realised via the market-relevant social media channels, but also via the DB newsletter with over 1 million subscribers. Advertisements in media with an affinity to the target group, such as the magazine ZEIT-Leo or the Deutsche Bahn's Leselok, additionally promote the "World of the Brocken Gang".
As a family man, District Administrator and Chairman of the Harz Tourism Association, Dr Alexander Saipa, is particularly pleased about this innovative marketing approach. His conclusion: "With this creative communication, the Harz can continue to assert itself as a genuine family destination in the tourism market. In the context of the numerous investment projects, the region is well equipped for the future."
The real innovative value of the strategy and its implementation is confirmed by the agency KB&B Family Marketing Experts from Hamburg, one of the leading specialised agencies for children and family marketing. "The marketing approach pursued by the Harz Tourism Association and its implementation is so far unique in Germany. There is no other destination that implements a targeted and comprehensive approach to children as a target group with such consistency and creativity. This strategy offers great development potential for all tourism stakeholders in the region," states André Schulz, Managing Director KB&B.
Carola Schmidt, HTV Managing Director, is looking forward to the future work on and with the Brockenbande. "We have set a starting point with the strategy and the first measures. This idea has so much potential for development, which we can and will continue to develop in the HTV team but also in close cooperation with our partners and service providers in the Harz."
It is now also important to involve these partner companies. They can include the Brockenbande and the associated idea in their offer and product developments and make a contribution to the family holiday experience in the Harz mountains. For this purpose, the HTV, in cooperation with the agency, conducted a workshop today in which the participants received extensive background information on the target group, their consumer and media behaviour and on the Brockenbande itself. In an active workshop part, first creative ideas for the design of the offer were developed. A handbook with all relevant information and instructions will soon be available to all those who could not attend the workshop. HTV will also continue to work on the expansion of communication materials and content in the coming months.
Photo credits: Harzer Tourismusverband e.V.