Treasure Hunts for Destination Marketing

Blue colored glass float

Here’s a destination marketing idea for an affordable event you can add to your destination’s roster this year: Treasure Hunts!

float hidden in a tree
Glass Floats courtesy of the Block Island Tourism Council

While in Block Island, I was quickly told about The Glass Float Project.  The Block Island Tourism Council commissions Hand Blown Glass Floats designed by a local artist to be hidden around the island.  As soon as we heard about the project, we started hunting, riding our bikes everywhere, combing the beaches, scouring around small boutique’s lawns.  It was a blast.  Though we did not find one of the precious 550 Glass Orbs, we had a blast visiting the various destinations, biking and exploring and appreciating the beauty of the island.

Another creative marketing take on the hunt was implemented in New Zealand.  A hotel QT Aukland created buzz prior to opening by hiding 150 room keys around the destination.  Anyone who found the key was awarded a free night’s stay at a future date!

Some destinations are known for their digital scavenger hunts like the New Mexico Tourism Department. They created a “Catch the Kid” Campaign.  While there are benefits to apps for information gathering, you need to consider the message that matches your target market.  Are they coming to your region for nature and to getaway?  If so, focus on showcasing your natural scenery with physical treasures that will encourage the visitor to get off their phones. Is it history or the arts you are trying to promote?  Why not pull together your artists or history buffs to create something tailored to your destination.


Now Saratoga Springs is joining in on the fun. They have launched the Saratoga Plan Rocks campaign.  The Saratoga Plan ispainted rock with inspirational quote an organization dedicated to Preserving Land And Nature.  What better way to support their mission but to highlight it with a fun treasure hunt for painted rocks that are hidden along the trails of Saratoga County.  Rocks are decorated with inspirational quotes, kindness messages, and wise sayings.

Treasure Hunt Destination Marketing Ideas

  • In Glens Falls, NY the Arts District is focused on showcasing its vibrant arts community.  With hundreds of local artists, why not commission them to create a Glens Falls “art piece” and hide it well.  Then let the games begin.
  • For destination events like hockey and sports teams, one could engage your community and gain publicity with a treasure hunt.  For example, Glens Falls is known for hockey… could you get the hockey lovers to find pucks hidden with a special insignia to gain free admission to the next game.
  • Everyone loves the silhouette of Lake George, NY – why not create collectibles with the silhouette and hide them in the destinations?
  • The Lake George Area is rich with history, maybe the Fort William Henry and Fort Ticonderoga could collaborate on the specially designed prize to be hidden in key historic spots?
  • This idea does not have to be relegated to the entire destination, hotels & attractions can do this as well. For example, if you owned a Christmas Tree Farm, you could create a treasure hunt for reindeer ornaments hidden in the trees.

How can you attract visitors, go viral in the press, make your visitor’s trip just a little more fun?

The critical factor here is to go big or go home – make it worth the visitors while to go on the hunt.  Don’t under market the program and don’t make it too easy to find the prize, make sure you have enough to last the time period of the hunt.

Want more ideas on how to improve your destination marketing? Let’s Work Together!