Greater Williamsburg hires Buzzfeed to attract a younger crowd

Posted at 9:13 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 21:38:33-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Marketers in Greater Williamsburg want people to see the area as hip, cool and having a lot to offer millennials. They hired Buzzfeed, an internet media company, popular with millennials, to create articles that feel authentic and genuine to attract younger tourists.

"We decided to work with Buzzfeed this year as part of a broader marketing philosophy to shift where we're sending our messaging and we also have to evolve with time," said Corrina Ferguson, the director of the Destination Marketing Campaign. Ferguson added millennials are big travelers and tend to spend more money on experiences, rather than things. Coupled with the fact millennials are the biggest population, it makes sense to want them to visit.

Buzzfeed's team road tripped from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Williamsburg, Virginia. Once in the Colonial Capital, the team went to historical landmarks and local businesses and featured them in an article. Businesses say because of the article's authentic feel, it's been a hit.

That sort of social media aspect Buzzfeed brings does drive some people here who are not the typical people who come to Williamsburg," said Grant Kelly, who works at Kingsmill Resort. The resort is steeped in traditional but evolving. Kelly said they offer plenty of outdoor activities including jet skiing, kayaking and paddle boarding for all ages, not just families. They are trying to show it's a fun place to stay for a younger crowd.

The Hound's Tale, a restaurant off Prince George Street has seen the power of being on social media.

"Someone put a picture of your brussels sprouts online and we had to come in and try them," said Monique Sowell, recalling a conversation with a customer. Sowell said they know having a strong presence online drives business.

The Buzzfeed team said cheers with craft beers at The Virginia Beer Company during their trip. Co-Founder Robby Willie said the perception of Greater Williamsburg is changing. Craft beers are a huge trend nationwide, especially with millennials. Willie said him and his co-founder, Chris Smith, love the younger crowd, but also try to make it a family-friendly environment great for all ages. Something Willie feels is quintessential Williamsburg.

"Give it a try as a young adult, give it a try as a young family and you'd be very impressed with how quickly you want to stay and how quickly you want to come back," said Willie.