Paul Gauguin Cruises Wins Travel + Leisure Smittys Award For Social Media Campaign

BELLEVUE, WASH. – June 12, 2012Paul Gauguin Cruises (, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, won a Travel + Leisure Social Media in Travel and Tourism (SMITTYS) Award in the cruise line category for “Best Single Social Media Promotion” for its “Meet Me in Tahiti” campaign.

The inaugural Travel + Leisure SMITTYS honor and acknowledge those in the travel industry including hotels, resorts, cruise lines, airlines, airports, tour operators, tourism boards/convention and visitor bureaus, online travel agencies, and attractions who are doing an exceptional job on social media platforms or producing innovative social media campaigns. 

Nominations were accepted between January 20 and March 2, 2012, and winners were selected by an independent panel of social media experts. The award winners were celebrated at the Travel + Leisure SMITTYS event, held on Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Brooklyn, New York.  The full list of SMITTYS winners is available at and in the July issue of Travel + Leisure, on newsstands June 22, 2012.

Paul Gauguin Cruises partnered with social media agency Banyan Branch to design and implement the successful “Meet Me in Tahiti” campaign, a Facebook-integrated microsite, creating an innovative way to reach new markets and create awareness and excitement for Tahiti and French Polynesia. The campaign gave users the opportunity to take a virtual vacation in five minutes without leaving their desks by visiting Users selected three Facebook friends to accompany them on their visit to paradise, creating custom postcards enjoying exciting activities such as kayaking in a lagoon, snorkeling with sting rays, riding on off-road jeep safaris, or relaxing on a private beach. Users could then post their postcards to Facebook directly from the site for all to see.

Thirty percent of “Meet Me in Tahiti” site’s traffic resulted from shared links like those on Facebook and Twitter – well above the average website, which only sees roughly 10 percent of traffic from shared links.  Interest in Tahiti as a vacation destination increased due to the campaign’s innovative use of Facebook Places, allowing users to check in to Tahiti and feature their virtual vacation on their Facebook wall.  The campaign was also featured in major travel publications and blogs.