As 2017 comes to an end, we at OHTO are taking time to look back on our year to evaluate our efforts, celebrate our successes, and strategize for the year ahead of us. This was a big year for the region –a year of collaborating with our communities, inspiring visitation, and inviting others to Come Wander Ontario’s Highlands.
We know this is a busy time of year, but we think it’s important to take time to reflect and wanted to share five key successes from this past year; after all, it’s also a time for celebration.
Success #1: Official Launch of Come Wander to Consumers
After a year of working diligently to build the Come Wander brand and supporting resources, we officially launched Come Wander and ComeWander.ca to consumers on May 19, 2017. This launch went off with a bang and we were thrilled to see an increase of 330 new social media followers, more than 1.9 million impressions with #ComeWander, and 795 unique visitors to the new website –all in just the first month!
Success #2: Industry Collaboration
None of us can grow tourism across Ontario’s Highlands on our own, and we know that success as a region relies on our ability to collaborate. With that in mind, we set out to create opportunities to build tourism sector engagement, collaboration, and participation in OHTO activities and the Come Wander brand.
We established a process for the authentic stories of the region to be developed and created two key ways for operators and tourism partners to collaborate, share stories, and feed directly into Come Wander. We introduced our first Monthly Guiding Question as well as our first Seasonal Product Knowledge request in March. Monthly Guiding Questions have been sent out at the beginning of every month since and Seasonal Product Knowledge forms live at Comewander.ca/connect, with requests and reminders to share what’s happening in the coming season included in our monthly Highlands Highlights.
We also encouraged and supported collaborative tourism development initiatives across the region by partnering on 13 product development and marketing projects through our Tourism Development Partnership Program, and brought IGNITE –an immersive 3-day program focused on experience development techniques –to Lanark County, with 21 stakeholders travelling to an award-winning off-the-grid eco-lodge to learn best practices in the spring. Lastly, we hit the road in April, where we were thrilled to meet with more than 180 tourism stakeholders from across the region, and hosted OH!Tourism Summit in October, with more than 100 delegates in attendance.
Success #3: Visitor Engagement
After launching the brand to consumers in May, we are thrilled to see how well it has already resonated with our visitors. #ComeWander had a reach of nearly 6 million through Twitter and Instagram between the May launch and the start of December, and our monthly consumer newsletter currently reaches over 1,800 subscribers.
Success #4: Media & Influencer Coverage
We’ve been working this year with destination media and major Influencers (people with large social media followings and influence over these followers) from the Toronto and Ottawa areas to share rich, authentic stories about Ontario’s Highlands and inspire others to Come Wander. Our efforts have included deploying media releases to local and destination media, mailing out ‘Wandering Kits,’ and partnering with 14 influencers on 12 campaigns to bring influential bloggers and videographers to the region to share their experiences with their followers. By partnering with Influencers and media members, we’ve garnered more than 1 million digital impressions, and have seen an earned media ad equivalency of more than $75,000 in print media and more than $25,000 in online media.
Success #5: Find Your Inner Wanderer Contest
To support the launch of Come Wander and push brand messaging out to consumers, we hosted a “Find Your Inner Wanderer” contest over the summer. Consumers were invited to visit an online contest page to discover their Inner Wanderer and enter to win 1 in 5 Wandering vacations. We experienced great impact with this contest as it aided in the increase of more than 1,000 followers across our social platforms, 25,000 unique visitors to Comewander.ca, and 971 contest entries.
Come Wander has truly been a collaborative effort and due to that, we hope you’re as proud as we are of the success experienced this year. We look forward to continuing to build on this momentum in 2018, to share stories of our region and inspire visitors to Come Wander!
Best wishes as we wander into the New Year,
Marketing Manager, OHTO