Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Northern Ontario Travel Intentions Released

The Ministry of Tourism has released the 2008 Travel Intentions study focused specifically on Northern Ontario

The full report, undertaken by TNS Canadian Facts is available at the following link.


The intentions mirror what many in the regional industry are already seeing; a decline in US traffic and potential growth markets with short haul domestic markets such as Southern Ontario and Manitoba.

Tourism Thunder Bay has responded to the intentions with marketing efforts that focus more on the region, Manitoba and the Southern Ontario outdoor experience seeker market more likely to travel a little further for unique outdoor adventures.

On other fronts, a greater emphasis on sport tourism development and more agressive corporate marketing are helping to offset potential declines in the leisure markets.

Domestic markets remain steady at the moment, compared with 2007 data and while US markets are lower than 2007, we are noticing a resurgence in interest by the motor coach and cruise ship segments. Tourism Thunder Bay will host 8 cruise industry executives and 10 motorcoach industry representatives on two separate Familiarization Tours in late June 2008.

Tourism Thunder Bay is also partnering with NOSTA and the North of Superior Marian Marketing Association to test market the affluent US midwest boaters market with a series of print and online advertisements and editorial promoting the Lake Superior boating experience. With over 1.5 million boats registered in Minnesota and Wisconsin, focusing on a large market seeking high quality marine experiences, aims at attracting U.S. visitors more likely to travel for an experience they have a passion for.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

08 Visitor Experience Magazine Makes Big Online Waves

The 2008 Thunder Bay Experience Visitor magazine was launched March 1st to great responses from consumers and industry alike and the demand will continue to climb into the summer leisure market season.

In addition to the 120 000 copies in circulation (a 20% increase over 2007) the guide is also available online at http://www.visitthunderbay.com/. In its first two months posted, it has been downloaded 9234 times. At this pace, it is conceivable that it will be viewed online up to 54 000 times this year. This would be a significant increase over the 31 000 copies downloaded in 2007 of the previous guide.

While high quality select print visitor information is still considered an essential part of our marketing mix, online posting of the guide makes perfect sense in that it delivers greater reach for our advertisor's investments in the guide, reduces postage costs for one-off distribution and helps meet our goals of environmental responsibility.

The Experience magazine is important for attracting new visitors to the community but more importantly, it can help keep existing visitors in the community for a longer stay, thereby increasing economic impacts. While we strive to attract new visitors, the current North American economic climate also has us looking at visitor retention as a means to compensate for any loss, in visitor numbers, from particular markets. Comprehesive information sources are a great way to achieve this goal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Web Use Dominates Marketing Efforts

With approximately 80% of travellers using the internet as a trip planning tool, web based marketing continues to be a focal point of our marketing efforts. With an enhanced web site and awareness campaigns that drive consumers to the www.visitthunderbay.com site as the new primary call to action, we are quickly seeing the results with respect to making new consumer impacts.

From January 1-May 13, 2008, the number of web visitors increased 41% from the same reporting period in 2007, from 89 740 to 150, 702. The site has averaged 1150 visitors per day, up from 685 last year.

76% of these visitors are arriving at the site by typing the url in directly, indicating that the web address is sticking in people's minds and they are responding from a variety of media sources, be it print, web or other.

With www.Visitthunderbay.com coming up second on www.google.com, when "Thunder Bay" is searched, we are also seeing an additional 22 400 visitors arriving at the site through search engines, primarily Google while 9764 visitors came to the site through the City's main website, www.thunderbay.ca.

The Thunder Bay tourism community plays an important role in raising the profile as well. A number of local businesses including hotels, retail and restaurants have posted links on their web pages that have shown to successfully guide traffic to the site. We encourage local tourism businesses and organizations to develop free recipricol links to encourage greater traffic movements between sites, something that benefits the tourism community as a whole.

This data is important in assiting us with future marketing and media campaigns by directing our investments where they are most likely to reach potential consumers. Over the next few years, we will pursue more media opportunities in new experience based online markets and be much more focused in both print and web campaigns. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at ppepe@thunderbay.ca.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

2008 Ontario Travel Intentions

Ministry of Tourism Releases 2008 Travel Intentions

The Ministry of Tourism has recently released the Spring/Summer 2008 travel intentions survey conducted by Canadian TNS Facts.

Tourism Thunder Bay is following this data closely and developing proactive and logical responses to address changes in visitor intentions involving new marketing tools and segment focus on dedicated experience seekers.

We expect stronger travel intentions from Southern Ontario and Manitoba markets. We expect that Thunder Bay will be a more appealing destination for regional travellers staying closer to home and those travellingcross country. In 2007, we recorded a 14% increase in Canadian travellers at our municipal Visitor Centers over 2006 and we expect a further 5-10% gain in 2008.

With the struggling U.S. Economy, high fuel prices, a strong Canadian dollar and passport confusion, we expect continued declines in US travellers from Minnesota and Wisconsin but especially from Michigan, Iowa and Illinois as US travellers stay closer to home. We expect U.S. declines at Pigeon River to be in the 12-16% range. U.S. travllers coming to the city and area will likely be outdoor experience seekers (angling, hunting and eco/adventure travel) and Lake Superior Circle Tour tourers.

You can view the entire survey at the following link at the following:


What is Tourism Thunder Bay doing about these trends?

With respect to domestic marketing, some of the major initiaitives we are pursuing include:

Seven Days with the Giant is an experience based campaign has focused specifically on the Southern Ontario and Manitoba markets through a multi media partnership with Fednor, OTMPC, Ontario Parks and over a dozen local experience providers. The campaign, with a $12 500 contest grand prize, raises the profile of Thunder Bay around the iconic Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and positions Thunder Bay as an Outdoor City with great air service options between the GTA and Thunder Bay.

Recognizing a strong visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market makes up 28% of our liesure segment, we are focusing on a number of local awareness campaigns, including a "Rediscover your City" tabloid that will be going to every household in June 2008 to promote Thunder Bay's attractions to local hosts and encouraging them to take their out of town visitors around this summer

A 6 month awareness and engagement campaign, to be unveiled in June 08, will allow residents and visitors to tell their stories about Thunder Bay, build awareness of our local experiences and provide material for future campaigns

Local mediarelations partnerships to help residents and regional visitors know about local attrractions and experiences and encouraging local residents to send the 2008 Visitor Experience magazine to their friends and family.

The U.S. market, while declining, still represented 23% of our visitation in 2007 and 30% of visitor spending.

Tourism Thunder Bay is a participant in the Fort William Historical Park Canada Gateway Center. Located along highway 61 south of Grand Maria (with daily traffic counts of 4300 vehicles), the centre is in a popular tourism region and is within our short haul market catchment area. The centre will raise the awareness of Thunder Bay as a destination and provide regular information to the more than 5 000 Cook County residents who travel to Thunder Bay for VFR, dining, shopping and entertainment experiences.

Seven Days with the Giant is being heavily promoted in the US border states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and targets affluent outdoor experience seekers through outdoor retail stores, websites and targeted direct e-mail.

Attracting affluent niche markets in the boating, outdoor and touring categories with tactical approaches including the Minneapolis Boat Show (resulting in 1400 inquiries in 2008), and editorial focusing on motorsport touring in publications such as Lake Superior Magazine and AAA Living.

Other Segments

We are actively pursuing new strategies to increase market share in both the sport tourism and corporate segments. With respect to Sport Tourism, We will be releasing a new Sport Tourism Strategy mid 2008 and we are actively engaged in the develop of several new "Thunder Bay owned" events including a major fall 2009 marathon project. As well, we continue to communicate actively with regional, provincial and national Sport organizations to position Thunder Bay as a host site for future sport tourism events.

Our corporate markets will see a focus on organizations that have a Thunder Bay presence and thus, more likely to host conferences. These sectors include First Nation, Education, Health Sciences, Mining and Government. We encourage local organizations to host their regional, provincial and national meetings and conferences in the city by providing marketing tools to assist them in championing the city. These include delegate bags, visitor magazines, free rental of our promotional trade show displays, and copies of our meeting and convention planner. For corporate groups looking for assistance with their efforts, please contact Rose Marie Tarnowski, Meeting and Convention Planner at rtarnowski@thunderbay.ca.

Friday, May 2, 2008

May 2008 Tourism News

New E-marketing Initiatives Launched

With over 80% of travellers turning to the internet for travel planning, Tourism Thunder Bay has recently launched two new communications tools to build visitor loyalty.

A new monthly subscription e-newsletter provides regular updates on upcoming events, lodging specials and general visitor information. Available through http://www.visitthunderbay.com/, visitors can read the current edition online and subscribe to future issues that are sent to the email address provided by the user.
Industry contributors can have their events and specials listed in upcoming editions be emailing Erin Brewer at ebrewer@thunderbay.ca. Please keep your submission to 150 words or less.

Go to www.VisitThunderBay.com/newsletter to read the current issue and register.

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/) is the new global electronic platform for social communication. With almost 40 000 local, seven million Canadian and over 70 million worldwide users, this is an excellent means to reach potential new visitors. The Facebook group site, VisitThunderBay.com provides Facebook users with an interactive web portal to seek information on upcoming events, ask our travel Councillors questions online and share pictures, stories and videos of their favorite Thunder Bay experiences.

Facebook account holders can visit http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9587366163

Sport Tourism Developments

Candian Sport Tourism Congress

Tourism Thunder Bay recently attended the Canadian Sport Tourism Congress in Gatineau Quebec. The three day conference, held April 27-29, was a chance for over 300 delegates representing municipal and Provincial tourism marketing agencies to meet with Provincial and National Sport organizations representatives. The venue provides opportunities to raise the profile of the city as a sport tourism destination for Provincial, National and International Event hosting. With Sport Tourism being a mult Billion dollar industry in Canada, Thunder Bay has facilities and related infrastructure ideal for hosting a wide range of events.

Tourism Thunder Bay met with a number or sport organizers including Cycling Canada (BC), AthletsCAN, CPGA, Ringette Canada, BasketBall Canada, Freestyle Canada, Cross Country Canada, Soccer Canada, Ontario University Athletics and the CAN AM Fire and Police Games organizers.
Visit http://www.canadiansporttourism.com/ for more information on the organization.

New Skateboard and BMX Competition Facility

Tourism Thunder Bay is a proud supporter of the Thunder Bay Skate Coalition and their efforts in developing a world class skate and BMX plaza at Marina Park. The new plaza will provide recreational and competitive opportunities for thousands of local and regional youth, promoting physical fitness and facilitating the hosting of future skate and BMX competitions at the regional provincial and even international level.

The Thunder Bay Skate Coalition is raising funds to build the plaza and has initiaited a "Buy a Brick" campaign. Personal bricks are $100 each and corporate bricks are $500 each. To view images of the new park or to support the park's development and have you business or family name added to this unique new sport tourism facility, visit http://www.tbsc.ca/.

Cruise Shipping News

As part of Tourism Thunder Bay's membership in the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition (GLCC), the department was actively involved in the 2008 Seatrade Cruise Shipping Conference held in Miami Beach Florida this past March. Hundreds of Cruise destinations and cruise shipping suppliers have the opportunity to meet with over 10 000 industry delegates in this multi billion dolalr segment of the global tourism industry.

The GLCC was successful in meeting with a number of cruise operators and as a result, a number of cruise executives will be touring the City in late June 2008 to view our attractions and marine services with the aim of bringing their vessels into the region in future years. For more information on the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, please visit http://www.greatlakescruisingcoalition.com/

The uniqueness of Lake Superior and the establishment of the new National Marine Conservation Area adjacent to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park are attractive selling points to smaller expedition cruise operators as well as private charter vessels. Some of the trends that will be pursued include marketing unique lake itineraries to smaller expedition cruise lines as well as to the U.S Superyacht market, whose owners and operators are seeking new destinations for their vessels. This will complement work being done in select Great Lakes markets to attract the pleasure boat markets as well.

To date, Tourism Thunder Bay has been successful in attracting 11 visits by the MV Clelia II in the summer of 2009, bringing an estimated economic impact to the city of approximately $250 000. For more information on the Clelia II, please visit http://www.traveldynamicsinternational.com/

Seven Days with the Giant Update

This incredibly succcessful 2008 liesure marketing campaign, focusing on the affluent outdoor experience seeker in Canada and the US midwest will be wrapping up May 31st 2008 with the winner selected in the first two weeks of June. The campaign, with a high quality grand prize package, served to increase web visitation to http://www.visitthunderbay.com/ by over 41% over the same period in 2007.

The campaign has also served to create a new standard for public private marketing partnership in the Province with Ontario Parks and is being used as a model for other communities to follow. AS a result of the success, Tourism Thunder Bay will be creating a new and enhanced "Seven Days with the Giant" program in 2009.

If you have not yet done so, Industry partners and consumers are encouraged to enter the contest at either http://www.visitthunderbay.com/ or www.OntarioTravel.net/outdoors before May 31, 2008.

Meetings and Convention News

Tourism Thunder Bay recently had the opportunity to meet with over 400 delegates at the Northwestern Ontario Mining Symposium held at the Valhalla Inn in March 2008. With mining exploration at record levels in the region, efforts are being made to attract more corporate business to the city in the form of meetings and conferences related to the industry.

Other segments of the corporate market Tourism Thunder Bay continues to focus on are Education, Health Sciences and First Nation organizations who have offices in Thunder Bay. By providing convention marketing tools to local groups, the aim is to increase the number of Provincial and National meetings in the city.

Skal International
Tourism Thunder Bay is pleased to be a member of SKAL International, a growing organization of travel and tourism professionals. Involvement within the local chapter provides Tourism Thunder Bay with opportunities to build stronger industry relationships, understand developments, issues and concerns of travel industry partners and communicate new Tourism Thunder Bay programs.

On Monday January 28th,2008 ,Skal International Thunder Bay, hosted an evening of celebration at the Victoria Inn and Convention Centre to celebrate the induction of local SKAL Member and owner of the Best Western Crossroads Motor Inn, Norm Bevilacqua as the 2008 SICAN President . Bill Rheaume Past President of SICAN 2007 presented President Norm with the Skal Canada Chain of Office on behalf of Skal International Canada. Norm is an enthusiastic advoate for Thunder Bay and for the regional tourism industry.
Skal is the only international organization which brings together all branches of the travel and tourism industry. Representing the industry’s managers and executives, Skal members meet at local, national and international levels in an environment of friendship to discuss subjects of common interest. The original club was started in Paris in 1932 In 1934,the Association Of International de Skal Clubs was formed.

The basic unit of the Skal Club is the local Club.In Canada there are 17 Local Clubs with a membership of approximmately 900.These 17 local Clubs comprise Skal International Canada.(SICAN). Skal International Thunder Bay received its Charter On October 1st ,1981 under the first President Brian Whitefield.Skal International Thunder Bay celebrated its 25th Anniversary on October 1st,2006. Since 1981,the spirit of friendship and co-operation within the local Club,generated may co-operative programs and exchange of ideas.The Club is proud to have received the coveted "Club of the Year" award (Canada) on three occasions 1998,1999 and the most recent for the year 2003.

The members of the Skal Thunder Bay are very proud of Norm and wish him success as President of Sican.

Visit the Skal website at http://www.skal.org/.
Ontario's North

Tourism Thunder Bay Manager Paul Anthony Pepe was recently appointed as Chair of Ontario's North, a tourism marketing partnership involving the City of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Ontario Tourism Marketing Parthership Corporation(http://www.tourismpartners.com/), FedNor (http://www.ic.gc.ca/) and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (http://www.nohfc.ca/).

The organization works on pan Northern tourism marketing initiatives focusing on Leisure and Group travel, travel trade and media that benefit all of Northern Ontario.

Media Update

Lake Superior Magazine has provided editorial on the National Marine Conservation Area, the arrival of the MV Clelia in 2009 and the "Seven Days with the Giant" campaign. Visit http://www.lakesuperior.com/ to learn more about the magazine.

The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce features updates on some of Tourism Thunder Bay's latest marketing initiatives in the May 2008 Newsletter. Visit http://www.tb-chamber.on.ca/ for more information or look for it in an upcoming edition of the Chronicle Journal

Upcoming Industry Events

Northern Ontario Travel Intentions Web Presentation

Monday May 5, 2008,
1:30 PM
To log into the audio component call 1-866-234-0247 and use participant code 123745
For web inquiries, email webconfsupport@bell.ca or call 1-866-861-2121