Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Mobile marketing is a rapidly expanding tool in reaching consumers.  Its moving so fast, a lot of businesses and organizations haven't had a chance to grasp this tool, let alone keep up with the changes. Is your business planning or ready for this phenomenon?

While only 12 to 14% of visitors are using mobile apps to look at our websites in the northwest, the number is growing with the increasing popularity of smartphones demonstrated by performance such as the phenomenal release of the new IPhone 5. By 2015 it is predicted half of all Internet traffic is going to be over a mobile platform,

The Northwest Innovation Centre, in collaboration with Tourism Thunder Bay, is hosting a one day workshop to help our tourism industry understand the power and potential of mobile marketing opportunities that exist.

Rob Woodbridge of is going to present why it is imperative your business start thinking about engaging its customer base via a mobile platform and an introduction to the power of mobile and pervasive computing along with its impact on your sales, marketing, and customer service teams. Not sure where to start with mobile and don’t have the budget? Rob will introduce low-cost and no cost opportunities that exist for start-ups and small businesses in the mobile space as well as a futuristic view of what mobile marketing will look like in the next 24 months.
Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Cost: Innovator Members $20, General Rate $25 (includes lunch and HST)

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Location: Victoria Inn, Regency A

For 20 years Rob has been immersed in the middle of the technology and mobile revolution in roles ranging from strategic advisor, board member and coach to VP Operations and President & CEO. In each of the companies that he's been involved with, Rob has helped shape strategy, marketing initiatives and product development to extend existing business into the mobile world — or flat out create new businesses leveraging mobile and pervasive computing.
Rob's experience is as diverse as the mobile industry — from a mobile game company targeting consumers to a mobile IT solution targeting enterprises to a video podcast focused on understanding the ins and outs of developing, marketing and selling mobile applications (found at

You can register online here.  Space is limited and its filling up fast.  

As Tourism Thunder Bay continues to build new regional tourism networks within the new RTO model, we'll be working to bring a continual series of digital educational tools to our industry partners.  If there is something you want to learn more about to help your tourism business grow, drop me a line @ and let me know.        

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Fall has always been a challenging season for us to market leisure experiences. 

With a limited marketing budget, we've generally focused on spring and summer leisure as best best seasons where our visitor experiences are at their peak, with fall through to spring being more focused on our convention and sport tourism segments.

However, with the advent of the regional tourism funding model, we've been able to explore new shoulder season markets through innovative (if not sometimes unorthadox) partnerships.  Warmer autumns, an increase in our inventory of fall visitor experiences, changing consumer trends and cost effective transportation all play a factor to allow us to extend our strong leisure marketing season to build new traffic or at the very least, build brand awareness for subsequent programs

This fall sees the launch of two new partnership marketing programs targeting different markets and demographics but both intended to begin building traction for future initiatives.  The First is Ride Northwest Ontario, a Northwest Ontario motorcycle touring campaign targeting the Manitoba motorcycle segment.  We have traditionally done a less than stellar job of attracting Manitobans by ignoring the market potential that this one million plus consumer market to the west posesses.  This program, a collaboration of communities across the Northwest aims to take advantage of the warm weather fall predictions, fall colours and a avid segment not quite ready to put their bikes away for the season.  A multi media campaign targeting Winnipeg daily print, radio and web, combined by editorial support drives to, a landing page that outlines the benefits of riding the region's curvy highways, spectacular fall colours and scenery unlike the prairies.  Riders are encouraged to stop by the Kenora Discovery Centre (a absolutely spectacular must stop interpretive centre recently opened by the City of Kenora) and pick up their regional ride map.  The landing page and map encourages them to explore the fall attractions and links them to and as well.

The second campaign targets both the GTA and Chicagoland markets in partnership with Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, OTMPC and Porter Airlines, focusing on fall weekend getaway packages. The landing page offers consumers a chance to book select two night getaway packages int he three cities and book their porter airfare with a special twenty percent discount.  This program leads with a short intense campaign featuring daily print, web and radio tactical in these two markets. While we expect only modest actual uptake, its developed to build our brand awareness in these markets, test new fall product offerings and push the envelope a bit.  Our Thunder Bay focus in this program is targeting fall hikes and exploration of our parks and protected areas, woven into our urban cultural and culinary tapestry of the north shore of Superior.  We'll be measuring click through rates, uptake on the booking codes and actual bookings to measure both consumer interest in the offer as well as the ever important conversion rate to actual bookings.  With the expected release of our own online booking engine sometime in early 2013, this program should have more traction in the future depending on the consumer interest displayed early on.

Both of these programs are seeing significant financial support from the Northern Partnerships office of the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partership Corporation to the tune of one hundred and seventy thousand dollars with the balance of one hundred and twenty five thousand from the various Northern RTOs and municipalities.  For us, a municipal contribution of twelve and a half thousand dollars is very well leveraged.

Right now, we're feverishly working on a regional winter campaign, another season where we've lacked marketing bite and where new visitor experiences are coming on line to make approaching new markets cost effective within the new partnership models.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Delta Announces Thunder Bay Hotel and Conference Centre Development

Delta CEO Ken Greene Admires the Architectural rendering of the new
Delta Thunder Bay opening in 2014.
 Today was a great day for tourism investment in Thunder Bay and a much anticipated next step in connecting visitors to our spectacular waterfront.  Delta Hotels has officially announced that they will be managing and operating the Delta Thunder Bay Hotel and Conference Centre to be located at Prince Arthur's Landing.

The addition of a new 4-star upscale property in Thunder is good news for a hospitality sector that has seen steady year over year growth since 2010 and is poised to continue expanding as the city's economy continues to grow with the growth of the health sciences, mining, transportation and tourism sectors.  With our occupancy rate just shy of 74% in 2011, it remained one of Canada's highest rates and demand this year continues to be strong.

The Delta property will feature one hundred and fifty rooms including eighteen penthouse suites, pool, fitness centre, and nine thousand square feet of meeting space including a five thousand square foot ball room.  The project is being managed and operated by Delta in collaboration with building owner Resolve Group.  The building design is by Brook Mcilroy and will be built by Manshield Construction of Thunder Bay.

It was encouraging to see such a great turn out for the media event this morning as well, with members of the local business community including those from other local hotel properties in attendance to see the renderings and meet Delta officials.  The Delta name has strong brand recognition across Canada and from a brand alignment perspective, strong brands in our market enhances our community's overall tourism reputation that will bring benefits beyond the branded properties.  In a market where we continuously see interest from event organizers to host lager corporate and sport events, more room and meeting space inventory and a culture of hotels working with each other is essential to expanding our community's tourism economic footprint. 

In addition to the obvious benefits, bringing an average of one hundred and fifty to two hundred visitors downtown overnight is critical to downtown revitalization, increases our community's tax assessment revenues and creates direct and ancillary employment opportunities.  Its an investment that has merits well beyond tourism.

In reading the media release issued by Delta Hotels this morning, its clear Delta understands the value of the location and the importance of our natural environment as our major tourism asset.  Referencing Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, the proposed Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area and easy access to wilderness experiences, Delta understands how to make the important connection between urban amenities and the outdoor experiences and compliments our tourism strategy that positions Thunder Bay as Canada's premier outdoor city.  Weaving the urban and outdoor experiences together cvan be challenging but Thunder Bay is becoming well known in sustainable tourism circles for being able to successfully undertake this approach. Our natural environment is a backdrop to hosting unconventional conventions that get delegates out of windowless meeting rooms and gives leisure visitors the opportunity to marvel at our world class waterfront, take in a sailing of fishing charter just meters from their hotel and experience the growing culinary and cultural scene in the Waterfront District.

You can read the Delta release here.