With 25 million visitors in 2018, San Francisco is hardly a secret tourist destination, but the iconic Californian city is constantly striving to generate awareness and open its doors to an increasing number of international travelers. For the San Francisco Travel Association (SF Travel), a 100-year old organization promoting the city as a world-class destination, this has meant rethinking its China strategy.

SF Travel partnered with Hylink Digital Solutions, a creative advertising agency, and launched a carefully orchestrated and targeted short-video campaign. Here’s how:

Mafengwo, KOLs, and Strong Partnerships 

SF Travel chose Mafengwo as its main promotional channel. The website has become a go-to information source for Chinese travelers making it ideal for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) hoping to connect with the world’s largest outbound travel market.

SF Travel targeted Chinese travelers who had already expressed an interest in San Francisco as well as those looking for vacation inspiration. In line with the consumer preference for short videos, it invited Chinese KOLs to host 90-second itinerary clips. The video series chose activities and experiences that appeal to young Chinese travelers, the demographic SF Travel hopes to attract.

Mafengwo KOL

SF Travel used popular Chinese KOLs to promote a range of the city’s unique attractions, including the high-end luxury hotel Fairmont.

In total, SF Travel produced 10 videos each one highlighting a unique experience on offer in San Francisco and showcasing a cooperative partner (including SFO, Napa Valley, Fairmont Hotel, DFS, and United Airlines and Pier 39).

Collaborating with leading destinations and brands not only highlighted the diversity of experiences on offer in San Francisco, but also gave KOLs insider access to exclusive locations. For example, one video toured the VIP Polaris Lounge at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and another showed off the features inside Fairmont, the award-winning luxury hotel, two spaces in which individuals are not normally granted permission to film.


SF Travel’s video series campaign aimed to showcase the city’s range of experiences to Chinese milenials and Gen Zers. The videos were watched 2 million times on Mafengwo and gained more than 31 million impressions, three times the original target. The Mafengwo campaign led to more than 890,000 clicks through a webpage created by SF Travel and Hylink created.


About Hylink

By crafting social media content and interactions tailored specifically to the needs of travel-minded Chinese consumers (rather than a one-size-fits-all approach), Hylink’s deep understanding of how to connect with the Chinese population has brought SF Travel impressive results in a relatively short time.