Tourism Thunder Bay has undertaken a fundamental shift in the development and deliver of tourism marketing and product development over the past two years, in alignment with the new Northern Ontario Tourism strategy. Our 2007, 2008 and 2009 marketing plans have been developed entirely on consumer research, including local market research and travel data, StatsCan data, Ministry of Tourism Travel Motivation Surveys (TAMS). The results have been marketing campaigns that have focused on the bigger picture – of positioning Thunder Bay as one of Canada’s Great Outdoor Cities around a strengthened “Superior By Nature” theme. Focus has been undertaken to raise the profile of the city as a major urban centre on the edge of world class wilderness experiences, based on TAMS data that shows outdoor activities as the #1 travel motivator for North Americans. Leading with the City’s connection to the national and provincial parks and Lake Superior is also essential at a time when sustainable tourism is becoming more relevant to travelers across all segments.
With the industry leading “Seven Days With the Giant” Partnership in 2008, the city successfully attracted increased consumer attention by weaving outdoor experiences with a wide range of urban attraction, accommodation, events and culinary activities. Raising the overall profile of the city through unique campaigns and increased media attraction has been essential to repositioning the city as a destination of choice for the leisure, group travel, corporate and sport markets.
Tourism Thunder Bay Long Term Strategic Development
With the completion and release of the Premier Ranked Tourist Destination Framework and the Ontario Competitiveness Strategy as well as the Rosehart Report and Common Voice tourism reports prepared in 2008, Tourism Thunder Bay will be embarking, beginning in spring 2009, of a long term strategic foundation, encompassing and implementing recommendations outlined in various provincial strategic reports. Tourism Thunder Bay is planning an “Open Source” industry planning session in May of 2009 to solicit constructive and progressive input into the long term focus of the department’s role as well as the overall local tourism industry in general.
Tactical Plan for 2009
Experience based print and web media in all segments (leisure, corporate, group and sport). We are pursuing new media buy outlets that combine web and print in key markets with high populations of avid and affluent travelers.
http://www.visitthunderbay.com/ is the city’s new tourism call to action. A completely new tourism web site will be launched March 11, 2009 and included easier accessibility and navigation capabilities. New content management processes allow for easy upload of current information and quick changes. The new website features rotating imagery and a newly commissioned tourism promotional video. The video will play online, distributed to event planners and is available free of charge to any community partner that wishes to help promote the city in their presentation or facility.
http://www.northernontario.travel/ Tourism Thunder Bay has a content management agreement with OTMPC to provide content upload to the new northern tourism portal. This recently launched site will have more content continuously added and works in collaboration with area partners. I encourage each hotel to develop packages and submit them to us for upload.
Visitor Experience Magazine- The second annual issue of the City’s tourism fulfillment guide was launched January 30, 2009 – three months sooner than in previous years The print and on-line magazine serves as a substantial trip planner and serves a number of markets
- Transient drive through markets seeking accommodation retail and culinary.
- Visiting Friends and Relatives market – with 28% of visitors in the city to visit friends and family, the magazines are available at key times per year in local outlets to help local residents plan their visitor’s stays.
- Visitor Centers – the magazine is available at over 250 key visitor centers in the region, on both the U.S. and Canadian side
- Consumer show distribution – an agreement with OTMPC and Ontario Parks sees the magazines distributed at over 20 sport and consumer shows in North America
- Convention Delegate packages
For 2009 Market Segment Focus
Expansion of the Seven Day’s partnership with Ontario Parks and the local business community to promote Thunder Bay as a great outdoor community with a rich urban culture. The campaign strikes chords with avid outdoor markets, a market still likely to travel in difficult economic times.
Tourism Thunder Bay has disbanded its partnership Ontario’s North with respect to the corporate market, investing additional local resources to market the city as a key destination for conferences. The past partnership saw Thunder Bay share leads with Sault St Marie and Sudbury, effectively competing destinations for corporate travel. Tourism Thunder Bay is focusing on key corporate markets of Mining, First Nation, Health Sciences, Education and Government, all sectors that have a relevant reason to travel to and meet in the city. The city has also been working with event planners to develop local culinary and attractions options for planners to increase economic impacts for the community and provide unique selling advantages for the community when bidding on events.
Tourism Thunder Bay maintains active participation in Ontario’s North with respect to promoting group travel to the motor coach market. Efforts will continue in 2009 towards building this and new partnership are currently being negotiated with Explore Minnesota to build cross border group travel itineraries that focus on Lake Superior Circle Tour.
Other segments on group travel include:
Motorcycle and auto club touring (followed by RVs in 2010). Tourism Thunder Bay is currently leading the development of a touring strategy for Northern Ontario. The results of this study will be complete in 2010.
Cruise Shipping- Tourism Thunder Bay expect approximately 1200 passengers visiting the city on two separate vessels that will make a combined 12 visits in the community in 2009. We are working with 9 other cruise lines for future year’s itineraries.
One of the areas getting the greatest attention is the Sport Tourism segment, seen as key to building the city’s year around tourism economy. A new sport tourism strategy was released in late 2008 that sees more efforts put into the ongoing promotion of the city as a sport tourism destination, great resources for biding and a sport tourism marketing event budget to assist community groups in marketing major events. The City is currently working on bids to host the 2011 Ontario Winter Special Olympics, the 2011 RBC Cup (Junior A Nationals) and the Can Am Fire and Police Games. The city is also involved in the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance and will continue to meet with national and Provincial sport agencies in April 2009 at their annual congress.
Tourism Thunder Bay continues to focus efforts on attracting travel media to expand the positive profile of the city in select experience and geographic based markets. Preference is given to experienced and reputable media affiliated with major Canadian and international media channels that have a web and print presence.