Case Study: #romewithgoogle

When it’s dark and miserable outside it’s nice to think back to warmer times. We were nominated last September for our incentive adventure in Rome with a group of travel journalists. For more images and press surrounding the event check out the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

The Brief

  • Take five consecutive groups of journalists on a two day city tour
  • Find a European city for invited journalists to explore
  • Create an exciting programme to entice guests to accept the invitation
  • Arrange the flights, transfers, and self-guided city transport
  • Find interesting landmarks that showcase the city to its fullest potential
  • Find a fun, central hotel to accommodate the group
  • Choose evening venues which would wow for the setting and the food


Research and Objectives

Over the past three years, Google have taken teams of travel journalists from across the EMEA region to different European destinations to trial and review the Google Travel App Suite: Google Maps, Google Translate, and Google Images. Google’s objective was to prove how using the apps can enhance a traveller’s experience. Cogs & Marvel have worked with the Google UK PR team to bring this event to Lisbon, Florence, Tuscany, and Madrid. The aim is to teach each group how to use the apps which they may already have on their phones to their fullest potential by taking them on a self guided city tour. In 2015, Google was looking for a new destination. The Cogs & Marvel team travelled with Google to scout out potential cities for the Autumn 2015 edition, considering Malaga for the event also, but, for its boundless potential and temperate climate, Rome was chosen. The trip, running from the 10th to 15th October, would also coincide with the final exhibition at the Nu Factory, a warehouse space which housed works of street artists from around the world, on which Google partnered with the Cultural Institute.

Assuming that a large number of the travel aficionados would have visited Rome previously, we needed to offer opportunities for them to see the city from a new angle. Cogs & Marvel travelled to Rome on three site inspections to compile a list of highlights to direct the guests to. Throughout the trip, guests would use Google Maps to get around, use Google Translate to converse with locals to order food, and use Google Images to keep track of their steps and adventures on the trip.


Creative Solutions

To allow for a bespoke incentive experience, the 87 guests were divided by region across EMEA into groups of 12 to 24: Group 1 from MENA on 10th-11th October, Group 2 from the Nordics on 11th-12th October, Group 3 from CEE on 12th-13th October, Group 4 from Benelux and France on 13th-14th October, and Group 5 from Italy, Spain, and Portugal on 14th-15th October. Each guest was supplied with a guide in advance of their trip in their native language which briefed them on the basics of each app.

To accommodate those who had visited Rome previously and those who had never been before, the Cogs & Marvel team devised a list of locations for guests to explore at their own pace. Each group would need to be briefed on arrival and advised of the destinations recommended. At this, Cogs & Marvel supplied an A1 map of the city with NFC cards – Near Field Communication points which stored the coordinate information for all the destination points and was retrieved by the guests. Guests were given activity cards with the possible destinations to mark off the list as they went about the city.

Mobile technology played a crucial role in the event. To keep the guests online throughout their adventures in Rome, Cogs & Marvel supplied each guest with event branded lightweight portable chargers.

Photo content is a powerful component of travel journalism. Cogs & Marvel welcomed celebrated photographer Oliver Astrologo who performed a photo workshop with the guests using their Samsungs, “How to Take the Photo you want to Remember”, making the best use of their phone’s camera.



The Cogs & Marvel team were on hand every step of the way. Flights were organised from 16 international airports into Rome where guests were greeted by the Cogs & Marvel, given their welcome pack of a branded event bag containing their Samsung supplied phone and local sim, portable charger and multi cable, water bottle, and luggage tags.

While their luggage travelled to the hotel, each group attended a briefing at Terrazza Caffarelli, a beautiful terrace on top of the Capitoline Museum with stunning views of the city, and ample potential to practice their photo skills.

Lunch in the Terrazza was set up buffet style with lounge furniture for guests to be briefed on the activities ahead. The relaxed setting allowed the group to get to know one another in a comfortable environment. Before lunch Google’s Geospatial Technologist Ed Parsons guided the guests through the functions of the apps and after lunch Oliver Astrologo lead the phone photography workshop, giving guests an overview and one-on-one assistance.

Following this, guests uploaded the destination information using NFC cards on the city map and were given a travel pack with activity cards and coupons to redeem for entrance, food, and beverages at the different map points. The coupons would be collected by the vendors and paid for daily by Cogs & Marvel. From their departure point at 2pm the only stipulation was that they arrive at the Nu Factory at 5pm for the next group session. Until that time they were given access in pairs to 10 buzz cars in which they could travel about the city.

At 5pm the group met the Cogs & Marvel team at the Nu Factory where they were given a guided tour of the gallery, a collaborative of street artists from around the world exhibiting a mix of still and live pieces of art. Following this, Google Trekker, Google’s Street View creator, was brought in for the group to try out, showing them how the maps they had been using were captured.

Following a transfer back to the hotel to freshen up, the group was brought to Pierluigi where they enjoyed a champagne reception in the courtyard before a private dining experience at the famous seafood restaurant.

Following a buffet breakfast in the hotel, guests were transferred to the Campo de’Fiori, a food market in Piazza Navona, where they met with renowned chef Fabio Bongianni to buy the fresh ingredients for their cooking class at Fabiolous Cookery School, with the help of Google Translate. At the cookery school, set in a penthouse apartment with a 360o view of Rome, the guests made a lunch of ravioli pumpkin, cavatelli al puttanesca, saltimbocca alla romana, and peaches.

When lunch had concluded the guests were debriefed and transferred to the airport for their return flight, while members of the Cogs & Marvel team were already in position at the airport to meet the arrivals of the second group, and so on for the five groups.


Thanks a million ladies for another perfect event! Cogs & Marvel is the heartbeat of every Gulliver project and this week you have helped produce the best Gulliver yet. Before I even arrived in Rome [the Google UK PR team] were boasting about how amazing your crew had been on the ground. So thank you for being brilliant and helping us pull off this fun, non-stop event that all the reporters love.

-Michael Valvo

Director of Communications, Google EMEA


Evaluation and Results

Of the 100 guests invited there was a near 100% uptake on the trip. The programme content attracted attendees from all across the EMEA region.

On the ground, the Google PR team were thrilled with the event. Everything ran without incident and the client and guest reaction were resoundingly positive.

Following the Rome with Google hashtag on social media, the feedback that the guests gave throughout and after the event relating to the Google Travel App Suite was massively successful. Google and Cogs & Marvel could follow and engage with the guests while in Rome and beyond to read their reviews of the trip. The engagement levels on social media were a marker of the success of the incentive.

The press the event gained exceeded the expectations and the Google PR team were thrilled with the results.


At Cogs & Marvel, we believe that every time you get a group of people together, whether they be staff, customers, partners or consumers, you have an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with you. You have an opportunity to turn passive admirers into an army of advocates for your corporate brand. Cogs & Marvel is an event agency that creates brand experiences to delight in the moment and inspire lasting change.

Want to inspire change in your audience? Get in touch with the Cogs & Marvel team.

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