Dutch airport makes addictive Instagram game

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Amsterdam Airport Schiphol faces a challenge familiar to airports across the globe: it wants to court more travelers. In order to do so, it decided to to familiarize travelers with the many destinations it services in hopes of getting more people to pass through its gates.

To that end, Schipol crafted an Instagram-centered game so addictive you can’t help but play at least once. About 300 destinations have five to 10 hashtags assigned to it. When you start a level, the game randomly selects a destination and pulls the latest Instagram content with those hashtags from the Instagram API. Gamers guess where the snapshots were snapped.

Should you find it difficult to identify a destination, don’t worry: Hints including local time, flight duration if departing from Schiphol and a list of airlines that fly there can be called upon to assist. You’ve got four minutes to correctly guess each destination, and you lose points for every hint used. If you’re like us, the only really helpful hint is local time, but we can’t blame the brand for highlighting flight duration and accessible airlines as part of the game.

“It’s the first time user-generated photos from Instagram are used like this (as far as we know),” said Daniel Samama, an art director at FHV BBDO Amsterdam, which created the effort for Schiphol.

It’s also an easy way to familiarize travelers with the many destinations available via Schiphol. Using Instagram is an additional plus because it lets travelers see “through the eyes of people who are actually at a random Schiphol travel destination”.

To pull it off, BBDO built a custom content management system that assigns hashtags to each of the 300 destinations. No small feat considering the breadth of images coming out of Instagram — nearly 45,000 per second globally.

“It took us a little while and a small army of interns to find out which spread of hashtags gives you a good spread of photos for each destination. Not just landmarks. But not just frappuccinos either.”

Each new level pulls in new Instagram photos, all beamed in on the fly. And for their efforts, players can win tickets for two to a destination of their choice — of course, as long as it’s a Schiphol destination. The tickets will go to a random player from the top 50 players.

Digital production agency Superhero Cheesecake developed the website, including databases and the CMS as well as the animations. The site works across platforms and was designed by Belgian designer Mathieu Michaux. Sound came courtesy of BigOrange.