Momentum is happening in the global tourism sector for the first time in a long time. But how can the Canadian industry make the best use of limited resources as we ride this wave of growth?
This question was the focus of the presentation by Siobhan Chretien, Regional Managing Director for Emerging Markets, Americas/Asia for the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), at the Tourism Town Hall on June 19.
Siobhan said Canada faces a “David-and-Goliath” scenario as it competes with the huge tourism budgets of destinations like the U.S., Australia and Britain. “We don’t have the financial or human resources to simply buy our way into the marketplace,” she said, “But we have strong assets.”
With this in mind, the CTC is employing some ingenious tactics to align Canadian products with growing markets and take advantage of the explosion of new media channels. Siobhan shared these recent successes and plans for the future:
Domestic youth travel
With Canada’s 150th anniversary coming in 2017, the CTC is planning a major push to encourage youth travel.
Research shows that more than 90% of Canadian youth are interested in exploring their country, and Canada’s 150th year is the ideal time, Siobhan said. Youth are also a desirable and resilient market because they are high-spending, travel longer and are the fastest growing segment of the business. They often travel in the off-season and off the beaten path, and continue to travel during uncertain times.
To create a sense of urgency, the CTC and public/private partners will create special youth-focused programs and time-limited deals for Canada’s 150th anniversary. A new Youth Travel Program Council representing every part of the industry will build the buzz leading up to the international roll-out in 2017.
A new video gives a taste of what the CTC has in store.
Smarter use of new media and innovation
Siobhan highlighted several crafty examples of how the CTC is using new media channels to create engage content with lasting value:
- The 35 Million Directors promotion, which challenged Canadians to capture their country on video, has generated more than 8,200 entries and 65 hours of cost-effective, authentic new material. The best bits were edited into one incredible video that has been viewed 2 million times on YouTube. According to the Luxury travel blog, it is the second most visited official tourism video of all time on YouTube.
- Canada’s Top 50 Places of a Lifetime has harnessed the global-streaming capabilities of Google+ Hangouts. In partnership with organizations like Travel Manitoba, viewers were invited to choose photographs of Canada’s best places. In just two weeks, the CTC’s Google+ subscribers grew from 500 to 50,000. The promotion generated $70,500 in earned media and 60,000 YouTube impressions, and the #Canada40 hashtag campaign netted 10.3 million Twitter impressions.
- In the Upgrade to Canada campaign, the CTC intercepted travellers at Frankfurt and Lyon airports and persuaded them to switch their holiday plans on the spot to an all-expenses-paid trip to Canada. A film crew recorded the experience and continued to share the content in real-time with a growing audience of potential travellers.
- In China, the You Can Be a Star competition, now in its second year, selects Chinese couples and friends to explore Canada and become stars on China’s Travel Channel. Almost all parts of Canada have been featured and hundreds of hours of footage have been played on China’s Travel Channel and on the CTC’s feed.
- Media fam tours are being redefined to harness the power of social media. For example, the 1 x 1 promotion flew 7 top Instagrammers to Alberta for a week-long hike from Calgary to Jasper. As they shared their experiences along the way, the group reached 1.26 consumers in 84 countries and generated 40,000 comments.
Canada brand platforms
To increase exposure for niche products and services, the CTC is proposing more opportunities to leverage Canada’s highly successful Keep Exploring brand, including in-market media events, fam tours, social networks and travel trade.
Siobhan said the GoMedia Marketplace taking place in Winnipeg this August will be a phenomenal opportunity to work together. “The media relations platform is really critical. Manitoba is a rather mysterious region that has such a great story to tell.”
In 2014, she sees great potential to promote Manitoba as a four-season destination through the CTC’s angling and hunting brand platform. She said the luxury travel platform is another area of growing interest – “and luxury doesn’t just mean the hotel experience – it’s also the exotic and exciting attractions like Manitoba’s polar bears.”
Conference and event business
The CTC’s Business Events Canada unit is identifying sectors where Canada has built-in strengths as a host nation. For example, Canada strives to be a centre of excellence in life sciences – therefore the CTC is working with allied federal government departments to attract international events and delegates from this sector. In this way, BEC is aligning with national economic priorities and demonstrating how tourism can play a role in opening up new markets and driving growth.
CTC offers a wide range of resources to help businesses take advantage of Canada’s tourism brand and Explorer Quotient research on the CTC website. To see more CTC videos, visit the Canada Explore YouTube channel.