“Be our guest!” – summer train service across Poland
Four rides on the summer trains, over 2 000 kilometers, almost one 000 travelers, millions of participants, over sixty stars and special guests, and finally – one welcoming Lesser Poland. These numbers show the magnitude of this year’s “Be our guest! Visit Krakow. Explore Lesser Poland” program, an initiative organized by the Malopolska Tourist Organization (Małopolska Organizacja Turystyczna) and the radio station RMF FM in cooperation with the Lesser Poland Voivodship and the City of Krakow.
Undoubtedly, any thought of the summer holidays makes us think of travel and puts us in a good mood. This gave us the idea of inviting people from all over Poland to travel together to Krakow and Lesser Poland in the “Be our guest!” summer train service – explains Grzegorz Biedroń, President of the Malopolska Tourist Organization. Each of the train cars has plenty of attractions for passengers: artists, sportspeople, and celebrities from the front pages of newspapers and social media. However, it was the presentation of the rich array of attractions that Lesser Poland and Krakow have to offer that was of essence for us. There was a chance to taste local products, find out about hiking trails, and meet Pieniny rafters or Krakow women in traditional dress! Our goal was clear: to promote hospitality of the region through experiences and great fun, and I can honestly say that we managed to do it with flying colors! – added the MTO President.
All roads lead to Lesser Poland
We planned the routes of the “Be our guest!” summer train service so that their terminals were in the most beautiful and interesting cities of Lesser Poland:
- on 24 June, the first train sped from Gdynia Central Station all the way to Krakow
- on 8 July, a train set off from Warsaw East Station to Nowy Sącz
- a train which set off on 22 July started at Poznań Central Station, and terminated at the Zator theme park
- the final ride began on 29 July in Wrocław and finished in Tarnów.
Musicians, sportspeople, influencers and attractions in Lesser Poland
On the trains, there was a chance to meet TV stars, celebrities from the front pages of newspapers, sportspeople, and influencers who are active in social media.
There were over sixty events planned for travelers, which included concerts given by Blanka, Golec uOrkiestra, Danzel, Gromee and Sara Chmiel, Blue Café, Natalia Nykiel, Red Lips, Oscar Cyms, Dominik Dudek, Anastazja Maciąg, Stan Zapalny, Natalia Zastępa, Chvost and Paulina Bisztyga as well as Big Band Małopolski. They charmed the travelers with their music in a special party car, equipped to host live music.
It is impossible not to mention famous guests including World Freestyle Football Champion Krzysztof Golonka, Miss Poland competitors, the 2023 Supranational Miss and Mister competitors, coaches Marta Kruk and Natalia Damek, the magician Just Edi Show, journalist and specialist in catering and nutrition Katarzyna Bosacka, mountain runner Natalia Tomasiak, tourist guide Baba z Gór, or sommelier Marta Pańska known, as the “Lady with the wine bottle”.
What is most interesting and beautiful about Lesser Poland
The rides were, first and foremost, a space and forum for travelers to experience and learn about hospitality in Lesser Poland, local products, and the most interesting attractions and activities awaiting them in the south of Poland.
So the ride would not have been complete without representatives of the Live Bagel Museum of Kraków and Apilandia - Interactive Beekeeping Center. The Carp Valley Association treated everyone to products from the Carp Valley – carp, whortleberry and Krówka Zatorska fudge, and the ladies of the House of Painters in Zalipies, a village known for being painted with colors of beauty, held workshops in decorations typical for Zalipies and gave away blackthorn bead necklaces from Tarnów.
It was also a chance to present the attractions on offer at the District Museum in Tarnów, the Municipality of Ryglice, the Municipality of Łęcko, represented by women in traditional dress who prepared delicious food for passengers, and to show the “EnoVelo” network of routes passing through the area of Tarnów and Brzesko. There was great interest in the presentation of ENOTarnowskie Vineyards in the Poviats of Tarnów, Brzesko and Dąbrowa, as well as wines from other regions of Lesser Poland, and beers from the Okocim Brewery in Brzesko.
Each train passed through Krakow, where travelers were welcomed by women in traditional Krakow dress who presented them with red coral necklaces characteristic of Lesser Poland, bagels, and wreaths (the first ride through Krakow occurred during Wianki – a Festival of Wreaths and Music – which turns the city for one day into a venue for several concerts). It was also a chance to make use of the potential of the European Games, which began some days before the first “Be our guest!” train departed. Guests were welcomed to the stations by the entourage of the King of Juromania, who invited them to participate in September in the events in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland.
An interesting touch of Krakow came with the first train ride, which featured a replica of the Adam Mickiewicz monument, which stands in the Main Square of Krakow. The replica was produced by the Groteska Theater art studio. It was placed on the south pier in Gdynia, near the city beach. Tourists enjoying the Baltic city for a moment had a chance to feel as if they were in Krakow. The organizers of the initiative, the Malopolska Tourist Organization, the Lesser Poland Voivodship, the City of Krakow and the Groteska Theater, presented the monument as one of the most characteristic elements of Krakow's old town, right after the Cloth Hall or St. Mary's Church, to invite the public to take a holiday trip to southern Poland.
The City of Tarnów and the Tarnów Information Center invited travelers to visit Tarnów, and the Jura Mountain Volunteer Search and Rescue Group (GOPR) made sure that all summer hikes were safe and shared some tips that will come in handy during any hike in Lesser Poland.
It is also worth mentioning that live cooking shows hosted by well-known and respected chefs, such as Mikołaj Rey and Mateusz Gessler, used local ingredients from the south of Poland, including Jura goat cheese from KozArt farm. The same is true of food served in the WARS restaurant car – cooks created a special menu and used high-quality ingredients from Lesser Poland.
Nationwide promotion by RMF FM
All these actions (and so many more, as there was simply not enough space in this summary to describe them all) awaited travelers who had a chance to win a ticket in a nationwide competition organized for five weeks by the RMF FM radio station.
There was a series of no less than 56 short radio shows planned together with the radio station. Journalists presented details of each ride and promoted the most interesting places in Lesser Poland. All four journeys were also reported live by correspondents from the departure, intermediate and final stations to the studios in Krakow and Warsaw, describing what was happening on the train and on the platforms.
RMF Group websites and social media were equally important communication channels. The social media posts and coverage of the rides on each of the four trains reached more than 1,300,000 recipients. The editorial support and communication on rmf.fm and rmf24.pl reached over 1.7 million Internet users.
Cooperation with local media and local government authorities, and own media
With the goal of increasing promotional coverage for Krakow and Lesser Poland in mind, there was also collaboration with representatives of public authorities (press offices of marshal's offices, city halls, municipal offices) and representatives of local media in places where "Be our guest!" trains had their starting, intermediate and final stations.
A separate PR announcement was produced for each of the cities and regions where the train cars stopped. It was sent to inform journalists and residents that the Malopolska Tourist Organization and RMF FM summer train service would stop at a specific time at a particular station.
This enabled overall communication of the initiative and provided plenty of materials announcing the rides and covering the stops in the media all over Poland, reaching local readers and listeners.
The campaign also made use of the Malopolska Tourist Organization’s own materials, the website visitmalopolska.pl, which published announcements on the rides to keep everyone up to date, and Facebook profiles: Discover Lesser Poland “Odkryj Małopolskę” and the Malopolska Tourist Organization „Małopolska Organizacja Turystyczna”. There, readers could find invitations for the rides as well as detailed coverage and summaries.
The initiative was also documented by photographers and videographers. Photo galleries were always made available in the social media and on organizers’ websites. Video coverage can be watched, for instance, on the YouTube channel of the initiative.
Summer trains seen from miles away
A variety of branding measures was a significant element of the initiative. The symbols and attributes of Lesser Poland, as well as the logo of the campaign "Be our guest! Visit Krakow. Discover Lesser Poland.”, were placed on the locomotives and cars, and were created by the Admind advertising agency in Krakow.
Whenever one of the trains arrived at a station, it was hard to miss. Then, organizers of the initiative, [in special uniforms/attire], would carry out activities to involve in the fun not only the people who had won tickets for rides in the RMF FM competition, but all passengers at stations across Poland who happened to be there at the right time.
Additional branding elements (photo walls, flags, coffers, balloons, gadgets) and light scenography were also used inside the cars to create an unusual summer-party atmosphere.
The brand elements used meant that celebrities, invited guests, and travelers provided in their social media a lot of coverage and photo and video content with the brand symbols of Lesser Poland, Krakow, Malopolska Tourist Organization, and RMF FM.
The “Be our guest!” initiative under the “Lesser Poland – your destination” project was organized by the Malopolska Tourist Organization in partnership with the Lesser Poland Voivodship and the City of Krakow. The initiative was produced by the event-factory agency from Krakow in cooperation with RMF FM (the RMF Group).
The “Lesser Poland – your destination” project is co-financed by the European Union under Measure 3.3. "Internationalization of the Lesser Poland’s economy", Sub-action 3.3.1. "Economic promotion of Lesser Poland" type E. Promotion of the economic offer of the region – counteracting the negative effects of the COVID-19 epidemic under
Priority Axis 3 Entrepreneurial Lesser Poland of the Regional Operational Program of the Lesser Poland Voivodship for 2014-2020.