Foreign Office partners with brands to expand travel service

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is partnering with brands including the AA and The Independent in an overhaul of its travel information services.

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It has launched a range of digital travel information widgets to try to reach new audiences that might have previously seen the department as “stuffy”. The FCO wants to be known for providing more than just information about international danger zones.

Brands can embed the widgets for free on their websites, and travel information can be customised to target particular audiences, such as for football fans travelling to matches or international job hunters that may need visas.

The official FCO widgets form part of the government’s ’spend to save’ initiative. It is hoped that by increasing the distribution of travel information digitally, the department will save on sending out emergency services to misinformed travellers.

The FCO is also using targeted Facebook ads and Foursquare to reach British nationals in crisis situations, such as the Japanese tsunami or the uprisings across the Middle East, while they are abroad.

FCO head of digital diplomacy Jimmy Leach says the new online tools enable the department to distribute information to markets that would otherwise be difficult to penetrate.

He adds: “We can come across as a stuffy organisation, but our information is key. By converging widgets and social media we are catching more people in a less intrusive way and are visible beyond just crisis situations.”

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