Travel Manitoba attended its first EQ Family Reunion – an annual event hosted by the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) for the organizations who have adopted the Explorer Quotient (EQ) program. This two-day session January 29 and 30 offered the chance to share EQ successes, discuss challenges and learn more about EQ tactics.
Travel Manitoba is the newest addition to the family that includes Travel Alberta, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Tourism New Brunswick, Tourism Yukon and Parks Canada. These organizations have been using EQ for two years or more and were eager to offer advice on how to make the most of the program. The reunion also offered insight on how to help industry adopt EQ and they benefits operators have seen in using the program.
“Frank, open and honest discussion on what worked, what didn’t work and the understanding that this is a process that takes time has given us many ideas on how to move forward,” said Laurenda Madill, Travel Manitoba’s Manager Industry Relations.
Some of these ideas include creating Manitoba-focused tools to help industry implement the EQ in their own businesses and offering specific workshops for those who want more assistance in a certain area, be it in marketing or product development. While no decisions have been made to date, we are already brainstorming ways to make sure Manitoba industry operators can take full advantage of the benefits EQ offers regarding target consumers and product development.
“What I loved about EQ was that it was a quality product not just telling me who my guests are, but…what motivates my guests and the tools which I can use to make Heritage Park more attractive to that guest to increase our market share,” said Sandra Kam, Manager of Marketing & Special Events for the Calgary-based Heritage Park Historical Village in a video shared at the reunion.
After adopting EQ, Heritage Park made changes to its photography – replacing beauty shots of interpreters in front of buildings, with pictures of people participating in the activities offered, such as playing croquet on the lawn in front of that building.
“We’re getting very positive feedback because it actually shows people experiencing something and that’s what they’re looking for.”
The Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston, Alberta has also implemented EQ, using the tool to expand its products and experiences to include carriage rides to help the visitor connect with the town’s settlement story.
“From a product development perspective, EQ has really shown me specifically the kinds of things we need to have here at the museum to attract the types of explorers that are more likely to come here,” said Robert Mein, of Visitor Services at the Remington Carriage Museum.
“Last year our pilot program was very, very successful,” said Duncan Daniels, Head of Regional Marketing with the Government of Alberta, referring to changes in the museum’s product offering. “We had about 85% occupancy, which was exceptional. And we’ve also benefited from increased revenue.”
Both Duncan and Sandra advise operators start small and build with EQ. “I think sometimes when you look at the program and revamping your marketing program it becomes overwhelming,” said Sandra. “But you just need to start. If you never start, you never reach the finish line.”
Sandra also advocates working collaboratively with DMOs, in her case, Tourism Calgary and Travel Alberta. “We all have limited dollars, so if we can all work together, align together, our voice will be stronger, louder and more cohesive.”
Celes Davar, a well-known leader in the Manitoba tourism industry as well as an EQ Authorized Trainer, presented Travel Manitoba’s case study at the reunion. He has also implemented EQ in his own business, Earth Rhythms, and sees EQ as a tool to help to attract travellers through the stories, experiences, people and places that are only found in Manitoba.
He added, “The challenge is to shape the development of our stories and tourism products in a compelling way so that they really can't be compared easily to any other destination. And to help bring industry partners from a traditional way of seeing marketing to a bold new, mobile, and socially interactive way that will bring different visitors at different times of the year, who are coming for exactly the right reasons – Manitoba experiences."
For more on EQ, watch for further updates in Travel Currents or contact Laurenda Madill at 204-927-7833.