Co-Creation: Consumers make new Center Parcs brochure
Center Parcs is publishing its new brochure at the end of the month. For years, the marketing team has decided what images to use and how to highlight the unique assets of each of the parks. This time, though, a completely different approach was adopted. This year’s brochure was compiled by the guests themselves. Every single decision was influenced by the consumers’ vision, right up to the choice of the cover.
From first steps in co-creation to bold idea
In the past twelve months, Center Parcs has made several small inroads into co-creation. One of the first ideas was the search for the name for a new slide at De Vossemeren. Based on a series of pictures, Facebook fans were asked to come up with a name for the new slide. The request resulted in some 1,500 suggestions, which were then whittled down to a shortlist of six finalists. Following a final vote, the name â€˜Monkey Splash’ came out the winner. No matter how â€œsmallâ€ a step this may seem, a slight change in mentality among marketeers was still necessary. Keep in mind that the name was actually chosen by a consumer, regardless of any other alternatives the marketing team might have preferred.
Consumers make the new brochure: the need for a new procedure
Earlier this year, the suggestion was made to involve the guests in the making of the new brochure. This meant a departure from the traditional and successful recipe. The people from Center Parcs and their agency, Duval Guillaume Modem, decided to go for it and create a brochure together with the Center Parcs guests.
The first step consisted in selecting the guest families. On Facebook and in Close-Up magazine, families were invited to put themselves forward. Over 600 families answered the call and completed a form detailing their motivation. From these forms, Center Parcs selected a number of families that suit the atmosphere and the target group of each park. For example, Erperheide welcomed a family with very young children, whereas Park Zandvoort selected a senior couple.
Next, the families were invited to come to the parks, where they were briefed by the people from Duval Guillaume Modem as well as by the Center Parcs team. The families were told that they could make the new brochure, but they had to keep in mind that the brochure would be read by more than 2 million people. In other words, the guests were asked to look beyond their own personal opinion and preferences. Incidentally, they fully understood what was expected of them.
Work on the brochure began the following day. The guests were asked to describe the unique aspects of the park and they selected those pictures which they felt were representative of the park’s atmosphere. In retrospect, Paul Geraeds, Marketing Director Center Parcs Europe, claimed that 80% of the end result was different from what the Center Parcs marketing team would have come up with; this means the consumers had a great deal of input. According to Paul, â€œthe brochure is a bit less â€˜polished’ and perhaps somewhat more cluttered, but that also makes it more personal. In return, the new brochure is more relevant and more credibleâ€. No final editing was undertaken to modify or correct the brochure compiled by the guests. The actual brochure is based entirely on the input received from the consumer.
A novelty: individual covers per country
The final step was the choice of the cover. The guest families made some suggestions but the actual covers were chosen by the Facebook fans and all guests, with the Center Parcs employees acting as a kind of second opinion. This approach revealed major differences between the various countries and for the first time, Center Parcs decided to adjust the cover to the culture of the individual countries. There used to be just one cover but now the consumers’ input decided which cover was used.
Next year: rely even more on user-generated content
Now that all initial doubts regarding this project have been dispelled, Center Parcs has decided to go with this approach next year as well. A number of ideas have been put forward to take it one step further next year:
- Participants will be better briefed beforehand, so they can prepare even better. In turn, this will leave more time for the brainstorming sessions when they visit the parks.
- This time the pictures were selected from a database of existing photos. Next year, Center Parcs is hoping to have consumers choose from all user-generated photos that have been posted on Flickr, for instance. Center Parcs is hoping to exploit the enormous amount of content available on the parks.