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Marketing Fund Ensures Tourism Businesses Have Capacity to Succeed

There are amazing Alberta tourism stories in every corner of the province. How well you tell your story – and to whom – is a critical factor in helping your business thrive.

That’s the philosophy behind Travel Alberta’s coop program, which provides support for Alberta’s tourism businesses to enhance their marketing capacity and increase tourism revenues.

“As Travel Alberta continues to drive awareness of the province’s authentic experiences and build competitive strength, we want to ensure that tourism businesses have the capabilities and opportunities to capitalize on that increased interest,” says Shelley Grollmuss, Travel Alberta’s vice president of industry development.

From launching first-time events, to new attractions at established venues, to regional collaborations, there are many scenarios where additional investment can make all the difference in the success of a marketing plan.

Mighty Peace Fanatics 2015

Inspired by a speech at a Travel Alberta Industry Conference about creating customer evangelists, four northern Alberta municipalities and the Mighty Peace Tourism Association (MPTA) launched a collaborative marketing campaign in 2015.

“It was important for the campaign to represent the region as a whole, as opposed to each municipality individually, because for tourists, there are no borders,” says Eleanor Miclette, manager of economic development and community services for the County of Northern Lights.

The partnership involved the MPTA, Northern Sunrise County, County of Northern Lights, the Town of Peace River, the Town of High Level and nine businesses.

Four, 12-page supplements called GO: Mighty Peace were produced for Move Up, a popular business and lifestyle magazine.

Strong Coffee Marketing was engaged to build a social media campaign with contests to build regional pride.

The results?

  • 238 per cent increase in Facebook likes
  • 39,136 people engaged in spring/summer contest
  • 775 per cent increase in traffic to Mighty Peace events page
  • Increased revenue for industry partners, including a 27 per cent hike for one local guest house

“Mighty Peace Fanatics built community excitement that translated into action as people experienced events, camping, ski hills and trails they had not yet discovered,” says Miclette.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the Travel Alberta program because small municipalities simply don’t have the budget.”

Calaway Park’s Timber Falls Campaign

In June 2015, Calaway Park launched Timber Falls, a massive, multi-million-dollar log-ride experience that represents the park’s largest single investment in a ride since 1983.

“I wanted to give it its best opportunity to succeed,” says Bob Williams, general manager of Calgary Park.

Williams teamed up with the Calgary Hotel Association to offer special hotel and ticket packages and approached Tourism Calgary to develop a landing page at visitcalgary.com to ease the path to purchase.

The Cooperative Marketing Investment Program provided support to produce a TV commercial and online campaign. Commercials aired on CTV in strategic regional markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Online ads, videos and social media campaign ran from June to August 2015 through Google, Facebook, Twitter, Suite 66, Postmedia and Shaw.

“The production quality of the campaign was very high,” says Williams. “Because of Travel Alberta’s support, we were able to spend more on this than we could have on our own. The quality was so good; it made a huge difference.”

The campaign exceeded goals:

  • Almost 2,500 hotel/ticket packages sold, an increase of 81 per cent
  • Sales of Playcation tickets increased 23 per cent
  • Online ad impressions topped 10 million
  • Web traffic increased seven per cent

The Timber Falls campaign will continue in 2016, Calaway Park’s 35th anniversary, and expand to Montana and southeastern British Columbia.

“Collaboration is what makes it work,” says Williams.

Oldstoberfest 2015

It’s a creative western take on the famous German fall beer festival. Ingredients include local craft beers, home-cured meats, grandstand concerts and – the world’s first Bavarian themed rodeo!

That’s right, lassoes mixed with lederhosen in the inaugural Oldstoberfest in Olds, on Sept. 18 and 19, 2015.

The idea grew out of small Octoberfest event held in 2014 at the Pomeroy Inns and Suites to showcase the Olds College Hospitality and Tourism Program, Olds College Brewery and the National Meat Training Centre.

They called it Oldstoberfest and the catchy name got creative juices flowing. Olds College brought in Range Road Events to help stage a biennial festival, with top country music stars headlining two concerts.

Given that the event’s general manager, Gillian Shields, was a former Miss Rodeo Canada, it was inevitable rodeo would also end up on the bill.

“We wanted to showcase beer and food, but we also wanted to have a western element,” she says. “So we came up with the idea of a Bavarian-themed rodeo – the first ever.”

The Cooperative Marketing Investment Program provided organizers with the capacity to create a higher quality campaign with significantly more reach.

Promotion included a Facebook campaign, video, billboard ads, radio spots and ads in selected rodeo magazines, some circulating in the United States.

Oldstoberfest 2015:

  • Attracted 7,000-8,000 attendees
  • Generated 2,500 Facebook likes
  • Recorded over 100,000 views of its video

“It was so much more than just applying for and getting a cheque from Travel Alberta,” says Shields. “They were there for us all the way, with great advice and suggestions. They really wanted us to succeed. They had our back.”

For more information on Cooperative Marketing, visit industry.travelalberta.com.


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