Thompsontown Maple Products: A Digital Marketing Grant Success Story

Thompsontown Maple Products is a maple syrup farm located on a century farm in Lanark County, the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario. Started in 1982, Thompsontown reignited a tradition of making maple syrup on their family’s property that dates to 1843.

Thompsontown Maple Products is a pro at the COVID pivot. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were quick to transition to online sales with a new Shopify site, and were thrilled to be able to sell their maple products online throughout Ontario’s lockdowns.

At the same time, increased fees and absence of the need for in-person purchasing eventually led them to cancel their service with their previous point-of-sale (POS) provider, Moneris, leaving them without a POS system for their sugarbush.

Leann Thompson from Thompsontown explained they were looking for something that would not only allow them to take contactless payments at the sugarbush (when restrictions allowed for in-person visits), but they also needed something that would integrate inventory tracking and food safety tracing into their new Shopify site and payment system.

“We were also thinking about what we would eventually be able to use at markets,” said Leann. “We needed to be able to process payments without necessarily being at the sugar camp.”

Thompsontown Maple Products applied for and received Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s (OHTO) Digital Marketing Support Program to purchase POS hardware that would integrate with their existing online store. The new Shopify POS system allows Thompsontown to offer contactless pick-up and also process payments while away from the sugarbush, but the Shopify functionality also allows them to tag products within social media posts, and directly link to their store.

Working with OHTO throughout the grant process, from application submission to approval, and reporting, was easy and straightforward, Leann said.

“It’s wonderful working with OHTO,” said Leann. “There was a lot of information on the website before we made the application, and the turnaround was great. The support we had for that process in delivering the grant project was wonderful. OHTO is the first place we look for tourism support.”

Now that Thompsontown is a year in for their new website and online sales, they are now looking at figuring out a way to integrate wholesale sales into their inventory and website, and have the online system control inventory in all sales channels. They are also looking forward to using their new equipment at events like the Festival of the Maples in Perth, where they are a regular vendor, and other annual events, once COVID restrictions ease up.

“We want to look at what we did in the last year and see how we can optimize our approach to online sales,” said Leann. “We’re excited to try this process at events where having a POS option is a real game changer.”

Meet Kasey Rogerson: OHTO’s New Industry Support Coordinator

If there is one thing Kasey Rogerson is passionate about, it’s tourism. The Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s (OHTO) new Industry Support Coordinator has dedicated the past decade to working in economic development and tourism, and specifically working directly with businesses and stakeholders.

Born and raised in the Ottawa Valley, Kasey has a strong connection to the region and is big on outdoor and edible travel experiences (and not necessarily in that order).  When she’s not helping operators and communities, Kasey is often still immersed in tourism while staycationing in Ontario’s Highlands with her husband, four-year-old daughter and their family dog, Dawkins.

With just over 10 years spent working for Hastings County in a similar role, Kasey has hands-on experience working with businesses to help them develop new products and services, while also supporting destination development.

“I like being able to work one-on-one with businesses and see the impact I can have on the ground,” Kasey explained. “So far it’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to do what I love for a bigger region, and help more communities and businesses.”

Kasey has served on OHTO’s Board of Directors since 2013 where she’s held various positions, including her most recent role as Chief Governing Officer, before she stepped down from the board to enter her new staff role with OHTO. Serving on the board has given Kasey the opportunity to broaden her tourism knowledge and understanding, from a different perspective.

“Being able to switch sides and go from the board side to the staff side with OHTO to help implement and execute on the programming is a huge win for me,” said Kasey.

One thing that has her excited these days is OHTO’s embracing of responsible tourism as a focus moving forward.

“Responsible tourism is a big passion for me, I did my thesis for my undergraduate degree on responsible tourism, so to be able to be part of that journey from the beginning to help shape what happens and then engage with industry is amazing,” said Kasey.

In her new role with OHTO, Kasey will be working directly with businesses to foster communications between OHTO and the operator, developing partnerships and programming, and building capacity support for the industry.

She will be the first point of contact between operators and OHTO, and is looking forward to connecting with, and getting to know, operators in Ontario’s Highlands.

Workforce Development and the OH! Tourism Summit

Beyond her excitement about responsible tourism, Kasey is also looking forward to developing a new workforce development and skills training program to support operators as they enhance their skills and knowledge to expand their business. Delivered through the Tourism Recovery and Innovation Program (TRIP) and launching in September, this new program will be of direct benefit to operators.

Operators are encouraged to keep a close watch on OHTO’s industry webpage for more details on this program, which is expected to be announced in September.

Meanwhile, Kasey is also working on, and will be taking the lead for coordinating the OH! Tourism Summit on October 20, 2021. This is a good chance to “see” her virtually and put a face to the name while learning more about what’s happening in the tourism world in Ontario’s Highlands, and how you can be part of the conversation.

More information and registration for the summit will be available at: https://comewander.ca/oh-tourism-summit in the coming weeks.

Connect With Kasey

Operators and stakeholders are invited to connect with Kasey and see how they can work with OHTO and be part of a vibrant tourism community. Kasey can be reached at 613-629-6486 (1-855-629-OHTO) ext. 203 or via email at kasey.rogerson@ohto.ca.