Monday, February 21, 2011

Direction Ontario Offers Francophone Tourism Market Toolkit and Workshop

Direction Ontario, the Provincial organization responsible for marketing to to the Francophone market, is conducting workshops across all thirteen RTO regions to provide a better understanding of the potential of the Francophone market, both within the Province and into Quebec.

For the Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario region, the Francophone market remains a small segment of our overall Canadian travel demographics. Based on registration data collected at our visitor centres, and compared with Ministry of Tourism's regional profile data, the Francophone market currently makes up approximately 3.5% of the 435 000 Canadian travellers to the city annually. However, given the significance of French influence in the development of the modern economy of the region and a strong french cultural fabric in the area, there is a core product that is or is close to being market ready to attract the Quebec touring segment.

A Webinar session for Region 13C is scheduled for February 24th, 2011 from 8:30 to 11 AM (EST).

The session will provide an better understanding of the toolkit they've developed to help Ontario's tourism industry understand the Francophone market. The workshop will also provide an analysis of the travel motivators of the Francophone traveller and will give an assessment of the state of Ontario's Francophone ready product and provide evaluation tools to help our tourism industry respond to the needs of that segment of the market better. The session will wrap up with a round table discussion of emerging product that could become market ready and an overview of the services Direction Ontario provides.

To Register, contact Louise Lacroix At by Wednesday February 23rd.

To participate in the conference, visit and enter Direction Ontario as the Meeting Host and enter "francophonemarkets13cworkshop" as the meeting name. To connect a land line, call 1-866-737-8517 and pass code 9860105

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thunder Bay's Hotel Occupancy Ends 2010 on a High Note.

The December 2010 hotel performance numbers are in and Thunder Bay continued to show improved performance right to the end of the year, particularly interesting given how difficult December traditionally is to fill hotel rooms when convention traffic winds down prior to the Christmas holidays and Christmas leisure traffic generally stays with friends and family.

Thunder Bay's hotel occupancy rate in December was 55.4%, up 5.2 points over the previous year and we reported the highest occupancy for the entire country. Average daily rate increased 4.6% to $95.48 and revenue per available room shot up 15.3% to $52.91. The average Canadian occupancy rate for December 2010 was 44.8%.

Year end results continue to support growth in the hotel segment, with the city posting a 70.5% occupancy rate, up 5.2 points from 2009. The City saw modest growth of 1.1% on Average daily rate, and a 9.2% increase in RevPar to $68.81. By contrast, the Canadian industry posted a 60.3% occupancy rate for the year.

This data is from PKF Consulting Trends Report. For tourism partners seeking more detailed information, please contact PKF at for their range of services to the tourism and hospitality industries.


Tourism Thunder Bay, in association with local and regional tourism organizations and operators, is bringing back Canada’s ultimate outdoor adventure campaign–Seven Days With The Giant.

This summer, one lucky winner and three friends will enjoy an all expense paid weeklong adventure exploring the city and North Shore region. Winners will start with paid return airfare from anywhere in North America, digital camera package, camping gear and a beautiful Thunder Bay print. From there, they will create their own adventure with the assistance of Lake Superior Visits to include exploring Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Kakabeka Falls, Fort William Historical Park, sailing and angling on Lake Superior, mountain biking, hiking, culinary and cultural adventures, and many more customizable outdoor and urban activities.

This year’s program, valued at over $15 000, expands to include, not only Thunder Bay experiences but those from the Dorion and Nipigon areas as well, opening up even more opportunities for the winners to explore the variety of adventures that suit their tastes and abilities. The campaign’s target reach is also evolving to focus on more experiential Canadian and US travel media including Explore Magazine, National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, AAA Living, Lake Superior Magazine, Northern Wilds and Canoe and Kayak print and digital media channels.

This year’s sponsors include Ontario Parks, Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture, OTMPC, Best Western Norwester Hotel and Conference Centre, National Car Rental, Lake Superior Visits, Fort William Historical Park, Gear Up for Outdoors,, Epic Adventures, Lot 66, Caribou, 5 Forks, Thunder Bay Observatory, Archie’s Charters, Golf Thunder Bay, and many other local and regional visitor experience providers.

“The Seven Days With the Giant” campaign began four years ago and has become a popular foundation of our marketing strategy, drawing interest from avid outdoor adventure seekers. The program weaves our connection to the natural environment with our great urban culture and contributes to our vision to become regarded as Canada’s Best Outdoor City. This year, the program has expanded to showcase some of the exciting regional experiences beyond our city limits and utilizes some of North America’s most respected outdoor adventure media to attract avid travelers to our area.

Contest entry is available online at beginning at 12 noon, Tuesday February 15, 2011 and ends at 12 Midnight, May 31, 2011.

For more information, email me @ or call me @ (807) 625-3880

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Promoting Motorcycle Touring into the US Midwest Market

This past weekend, Tourism Thunder Bay, in partnership with the Thunder Bay chapter of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.)TM were promoting the upcoming "Thunder In the Bay" Provincial rally at the Minneapolis International Motorcycle Show.

This is a new marketing and promotional direction for Tourism Thunder Bay and the partnership with the owner's group has been essential to its success. Having riders at the booth answering questions gives the program a level of authenticity and allows for greater marketplace reach. The consumer uptake early in the weekend was overwhelming with interest, not only in the rally by Harley owners, but in touring the lake in general.

In addition to the event and city information, copies of the Circle Tour guide and Lake Superior Magazine's maps were hugely popular among the hundreds of avid motorcycle touring enthusiasts who stopped by to chat with us. In fact, Friday night alone saw a steady traffic jam in row 1100 just because people were stopped at the booth three deep to get more info on the event and route.

I want to send a huge shout out to John Trevisanutto, John Aiken and Susan Macey of the local Harley Owners Group who have been enthusiastically active ambassadors for the rally and the community. John's organization of volunteers to help promote the rally, the city and the touring route at the Minneapolis Show is greatly appreciated and it would not have rolled out so well without their volunteer contribution.

The rally itself, being held from July 28-30, will see upwards of eight hundred riders in the community and is expected to have an economic impact in excess of $275 000 for the city. Because riders will be travelling regionally to attend, or spending time at the front or tail end of the rally, an additional regional economic impact of some $200 000 will likely be seen by north shore Ontario and Minnesota communities.

Motorcycle touring presents one of the best potential new growth segments for Thunder Bay and every other community around the Lake Superior basin. The route, comprising some 1300 miles of some of the most scenic geography and interesting smaller communities is considered one of the continents top 10 driving routes and the north shore, one of Canada's top three motorcycle routes. Even the Globe and Mail has identified riding the North shore of Superior as one of one hundred things to do in a lifetime.

The motorcycle market is one that is a prime avid segment and they're the ones we want to work at attracting, both from the Canadian and US source markets. With close to 5.2 million US and 550 000 Canadians touring by motorcycle, its a segment worth capturing. This is a segment of higher than average income earners who have a passion for exploring and travel and they are more likely to keep travelling when the economy is tighter. While touring, they are more likely to generate a greater local and regional economic impact as they move from community to community, staying multiple overnights within a region, dining and exploring attractions.

The Ministry of Tourism has invested in travel motivational research - the all important demand generator stuff - and the studies are available on the ministry's website. Its even specifically broken down into the Canadian or US motorcycle markets.

For the city and coastal region, it's a segment that starts towards the end of May and extends to early October and while our urban motel occupancy has been hovering around 84% over the past summer, it still leaves about 300 hotel rooms available on average each evening, not to mention those in other communities around the lake. Promoting to the motorcycle market is a great way to fill the rest of the rooms. Furthermore, many motorcyclists travel in groups that can reach into the dozens or even hundreds of bikes, making this one of the emergent group travel markets.

While we are in the Minneapolis market promoting the rally specifically, a regional lake basin approach to product development and marketing to this specific segment is essential to the success of growing the market. It takes an understanding of what riders seek in a journey with respect to scenic viewscapes, interesting and well maintained roadways, regular refueling points and overnight accommodation spaced about 400-500 km apart. They also seek the comforts such as secure and covered overnight parking, wipe down cloths, fuel stops, restaurants within walking distance of accommodation, and other related conveniences that make them feel welcomed into a community.

Given discussions we've had with some of our other tourism partners around the lake and others planned in the coming months, we hope to see a more aggressive Lake Superior coastal touring route program develop over the following few years to take advantage of this important travel segment.

for more information on the 2011 Thunder In The Bay Provincial H.O.G. Rally, visit their website.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vote Thunder Bay Destinations for Canada’s Great Places Contest

Canadians across the country are now competing to put their favourite location on the map in the Great Places in Canada Contest sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Planners. Three Thunder Bay locations are in the running including, The Sleeping Giant, Thunder Bay’s Waterfront and the Current River neighbourhood. Residents are encouraged to go to and vote for the Thunder Bay locations, or nominate their preferred local destinations, and encourage others to vote.

The competition is open to everyone – just go to where you can nominate, write about, and post images of the place that inspires you. And by making a nomination, you’ll be entered into a draw for prizes. Votes will be tallied in real time to make it easy to track the leading locations.

“It would be fantastic to see one of Thunder Bay’s spectacular destinations win,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs. “I encourage people to take a few seconds to vote and demonstrate their hometown pride to make Thunder Bay a leader in this friendly competition. It will be an exciting contest as people enlist support for their entries and communities compete with one another.”

To vote for the Sleeping Giant, visit the page directly at

Nominating and voting will close March 25, 2011. A panel of judges will then select the finalists in late April, and the winners will be announced in May. Each winning location will receive a plaque, presented to the local mayor or reeve, and winning nominators will also be awarded.
For more information, visit