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Ask Gudmunder: World’s first human search engine

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Since its launch in 2010, Inspired by Iceland has helped to galvanise the tourism industry – experiencing 20 consecutive quarters of like-for-like growth with tourism growing more than 300%.

Yet it seemed that most tourists spent their time around the capital, rather than extending their stays to discover other regions badly in need of the economic benefits of tourism.


Rather than turning to Google for tips on where to go and what to see, the insight was that people should stop asking a machine and ask a real person instead.

The most popular name in Iceland is Gudmunder – so popular, in fact, that it’s actually a unisex name. Over 4,303 people  of the 329,100 population share the name Guðmundur or Guðmunda.

The strategy was built on the idea to Ask Gudmunder: the world’s first human search engine – in an effort to educate tourists about the diversity of Iceland in all seasons and the variety of activities and experiences available across the country.


The Ask Gudmunder service was available 24/7 across Inspired by Iceland’s media channels (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube), welcoming questions from around the world via #AskGudmunder and #IcelandSecret.

Seven Gudmunders from around Iceland (both male and female) volunteered for the role, taking turns in sharing their secrets in response to tourists’ questions. Gudmunder had to drive awareness of the secrets hiding in all of Iceland’s regions.

Thousands of questions were asked, from ‘What is your favourite restaurant?’ to ‘Are there any trees in Iceland?’ to ‘Does Iceland have any hot springs?’

Check out the campaign video here:


Over the course of the year, the campaign increased  the number of tourist bed nights beyond predicted levels by 207,000 – worth an additional £30m ($36.4m) to Iceland’s economy.

The campaign video garnered over 1.5 million views and overall generated an ROI of 17.7 to 1. 

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