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.

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