If you build it they will come: 5 steps to developing killer content – November 2019

You hear it everywhere.  Content marketing.  It’s a term that’s used a lot these days, particularly in the tourism world, and definitely within our organization. Done right, content marketing can be highly effective, but done wrong, your wheels might be spinning and you don’t know what to do next!

So how do you do make sure you are doing it right? The answer to this question is surprisingly less obvious than you might think. We can all recognize amazing content marketing campaigns, but can sometimes forget to note the elements that make them stand out.

Briefly defined (according to Dictionary.com), content marketing is:

“A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”

Read this sentence closely, because the answer to the question above lies in the first few words. Content marketing is the “…creation and sharing of online material…” (emphasis added).

Do you see which comes first? This chicken or the egg question is an element that is easy to miss in the rush to dive into the content marketing world. The first step in amazing content marketing is physically creating compelling content.

This means developing the written words that tug at something in your soul, the photos that make you long for the experience, or the video that takes your breath away.

At OHTO, partnership opportunities exist to help tourism stakeholders to develop killer content, specifically because we understand that the quote “if you build it, they will come” is 100 per cent true. First you need killer content that tells your compelling story. Once that part is in place, everything else naturally follows.

At this year’s OH! Tourism Summit in Pembroke, developing strong partnerships was the focus of the event, but the content marketing theme was nevertheless interwoven through every presentation. There was a lot of discussion about how to partner to extend your reach and elevate awareness of your brand, but beneath it all were the casual mentions of the challenges in creating that content in the first place.

If you’ve been looking for a way to strengthen your content, read on for more information about the challenges of creating content, and how to circumvent them.

  1. Identify your strongest assets and their message

If you just thought “well, duh” when you read the heading above, don’t be surprised if this is harder than you might think. Identifying your assets is about more than just writing down the name of a park or museum, it’s taking the time to sit and find a way to spin those assets in a way that delivers your curated message to the reader. One excellent example of this is the video created by OHTO in partnership with Hastings County that went beyond identifying Eagle’s Nest Lookout as an asset, it identified the message to relay to the visitor, loosely translated as simply: “Find serenity in Hastings County.”

  1. Plan ahead – waaaay ahead

Don’t expect to begin developing content to use in two months from now. Understand that there is often a long lead time between when you create your content and when it actually reaches the consumer, sometimes a year or more will pass while you sit squirming on amazing content you can’t wait to get out into the world, but you are waiting for the right opportunity. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!

  1. Find good talent and communicate your goals clearly

Finding good talent means taking the time to source photographers, videographers and writers who understand what you are trying to create and have the experience and skills necessary to bring it to fruition. Ensuring that your goals for the project are well communicated will go far in avoiding disappointment later on in the game. Oh, and talent doesn’t refer only to your contractors – believe it or not, models are also considered talent, and they are just as crucial to creating inspiring content as those taking the photos or video.

  1. Coordinate the heck out of it (also known as pray for good weather)

Creating content is a logistical nightmare that can have you waking up in the middle of the night in a sweat, worried you will forget something. You need to coordinate schedules for the models, your contractors, and yourself, along with any businesses or operators who may be included in the content creation. And don’t forget about the weather! Mother Nature can be less than accommodating when you need sun for your shoot, so be prepared for inclement weather conditions.

  1. Don’t underestimate your audience

If you see your photos or video or written content and aren’t blown away by how awesome they are, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t do well in the marketing world. Be brutal in rejecting anything less than your vision. After all, if you aren’t moved by your content, how will your audience be? So if you aren’t sneaking back to your computer to replay your video or flip through your photos, think about why not and how you can improve your content development for next time.

Happy wandering,

 

Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager

 

We are Stronger Together: October 2019

We are stronger together. This is a statement that has withstood the test of time and history, and continues to be relevant today. That we aren’t also strong individually isn’t at question, it’s that when we work together, there is nowhere to go but up.

Stronger, better, smarter. This is true not only in tourism but also in virtually every other industry in the world. Two minds are better than one. Four minds are better than two.

The potential for collaboration is tremendous – in 2019 and 2020 the world is celebrating 75 years since the end of World War II, a feat that came about thanks to the collaboration and partnership of allied forces.

And think of the other instances in which partnership brought about greatness: If the Wright brothers hadn’t partnered to invent the airplane would we be able to fly around the world today? John Lennon and Paul McCartney both made beautiful music as solo artists, but together they created something eternal – the Beatles. And would Ben and Jerry’s ice cream taste as sweet if it was just called “Ben’s Ice Cream?” or “Jerry’s Ice Cream?”

Collaboration is the key to unlocking so much success, a chance to throw ideas into the mix, make connections, and further common goals. For tourism operators and stakeholders in Ontario’s Highlands, our primary goal is to bring visitors to our community, and to present a cohesive message about what a visitor can expect during their visit.

It’s the tremendous potential of partnership and collaboration that led us to settle on this year’s Oh! Tourism Summit theme – Stronger Together: Growing Tourism Through Collaboration.  At the summit on Wednesday, October 23 at the Germania Club in Pembroke, we will be delving into how we can work collaboratively to leverage ourselves and our destinations more effectively.

This theme is present in every aspect of this year’s conference program, from a presentation by Lisa LaVecchia, President and CEO of Destination Ontario, who will be discussing how to Leverage Your Reach to Tourism Matters by Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. Throughout this year’s conference we will be learning how we can be better together, and hearing straight from the experts about the power of collaboration, with success stories of how partnerships have made big differences in driving visitation in communities across Ontario’s Highlands.

Here in Ontario’s Highlands we are killing it when it comes to increasing visitation to our regions, and working hard at becoming better and better at what we do. But how do we pull together that partnership piece? How do we prove that two minds are better than one?

Find out on October 23. Come put your head together with tourism leaders from the Ottawa Valley to Hastings County, Lennox & Addington, Frontenac County, Haliburton Highlands, and Lanark County, and see for yourself what can happen when you partner up.

With our sights set on becoming Ontario’s next most talked about destination, we invite you to join us for a day of exploration, innovation, networking, and collaboration. Please have a look at our conference website, www.ohtourismsummit.ca, for full program details and to register today.

Let’s grow tourism together by inspiring more visitors to Come Wander in Ontario’s Highlands.

Happy Wandering,

 

Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager

Sharing Events: August 2019

We are thrilled to hear about more and more events being dreamed up and developed across Ontario’s Highlands! Visitor events can be a lot of fun, but are of course also a lot of work. On top of all the planning, coordinating, and set-up tasks, there is the challenge of marketing the event to drum up attendance.

This can be time consuming and expensive, but the payoff for the hard work and investment is worth it when smiling visitors not only enjoy themselves, but share their awesome experiences with their own networks, helping to inspire more people to visit and attend future events.

We’re always happy to help spread the word to our audiences and inspire people to check out the unique, fun, and sometimes quirky festivals and events taking place across the region. If you’re planning an event, here are our top three suggestions of simple, quick, and free ways to help spread the word:

1. Tell Us! We can’t share what we don’t know – The sooner you let us know about your event, the better. When we hear about events early, it gives us time to share them across multiple channels; to do things like feature them in a story on ComeWander.ca, share them on social media, and include them in our consumer newsletter. Here are some easy ways to keep us in the know:

  • Fill in our Seasonal Product Knowledge Forms – We send these out in the Highlands Highlight and also include at least one question about events happening in the upcoming season. Don’t subscribe to the Highlands Highlight? Sign up here.
  • Tag us on social media and use #ComeWander to make sure we see any posts about the event.
  • Send us an email with information about your event to info@ohto.ca.

2. Add Your Event to the OntarioTravel.net Events Calendar – This is home to events happening all across Ontario and can be filtered to specific Ontario’s Highlands events, which is where we link visitors to for event information on ComeWander.ca. You can create a free listing at TourismPartners.com.

3. Share on Social – With easy to set up event pages on Facebook, and the simplicity for people to share messaging across every platform, social media is a cost-effective way to highlight your event and encourage your fans to share it with their networks. As mentioned above, remember to tag us and use #ComeWander to leverage your messaging and ensure we see it.

Happy event planning,

Julie Mulligan
OHTO’s Marketing Manager

Summer Content Push: July 2019

With our busiest tourism season in full swing, we’ve been working hard to gather, support, and push out visual content to highlight key summer experiences available in Ontario’s Highlands – and there’s more to come. Our summer content push has three pulses, each focused on one key experience and supported with additional efforts that include along-form video, tailored Shareable Moment videos, a story on ComeWander.ca, an Influencer trip, and content creation, all pushed through a targeted media buy on Facebook and Instagram.

I’ll go further into detail about our promotional efforts to support this summer push a little later, but first, wanted to share the three key themes and timing for each push. Always working with a Visitor-First approach, our team identified these themes by researching things like:

  • Past content performance – what engaged readers and was a hit with our target audience
  • Search engine optimization – what key terms are bringing people to our website and enticing them to read stories
  • Trends – what’s buzzing on social media and what is our target audience looking to experience

From here, we identified the following three key themes to respond to our audience’s passions and interests, align with our Wandering Personas, and highlight some of our unique summer experiences.

1. Canadian Wilderness Adventures

  • Identified to respond to passion for Adventure Trips
  • Aligns primarily with Freedom Finder
  • Experiences include whitewater rafting, kayaking, backcountry camping, hiking, mountain biking
  • Dates of content push: June 25 – July 14

2. Backroad Burgs ‘n’ Brews

  • Identified to respond to passion for Culinary Travel
  • Aligns primarily with Rustic Roamer
  • Experiences include breweries, chip trucks, burger joints, and pubs
  • Dates of content push: July 22 – August 8

3. Mindful Moments in Nature

  • Identified to respond to passion for Relaxation and Disconnection
  • Aligns primarily with Serenity Seeker
  • Experiences include natural views, places to go to soak in the beauty of nature, places to disconnect from the every day
  • Dates of content push: August 19 – September 8

We’re working with DMO partners to further leverage the messaging, and have already travelled around the region earlier this summer to conduct video and photoshoots to gather visual content in support of these key themes.

Each pulse of our promotion will focus on one key theme and will include:

  • A story on ComeWander.ca, featuring businesses and experiences related to each key theme and linking visitors directly to operator websites for more information and to book
  • A video pushed out across our digital channels, driving visitors to the corresponding story on ComeWander.ca
  • Digital advertising on Facebook and Instagram – this includes Video Display Ads, Link Ads to content, and Remarketing Ads
  • 3 shorter ‘Shareable Moment’ videos shared throughout the course of the activation
  • A feature in our consumer newsletter
  • An Influencer travelling to Ontario’s Highlands and visually sharing their experiences through the Instagram channel in relation to the key theme – confirmed Influencers are: Andrew Szeto for Canadian Wilderness Adventures, Little Miss Ottawa for Backroad Burgs ‘n’ Brews, and Hopscotch the Globe for Mindful Moments in Nature

As you can see from the dates above, our first pulse has already taken place, with our Canadian Wilderness Adventures video launching June 25 and being supported in the ways outlined above. Results of this pulse are still being gathered, but we are happy to share that the story on ComeWander.ca has been a top performer and has already received over 5, 575 page views.

We are thrilled with the initial success of this first push and look forward to sharing and promoting the next two. Watch for future videos (Backroad Burgs ‘n’ Brews will launch Monday!) and be sure to share and engage on social media to help leverage messaging, increase reach, and encourage more people to Come Wander this summer.

Happy wandering,

Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager

Rec Geo Rockin’ Relaunch: June 2019

As one of the most diverse geological settings in Canada, opportunities to discover the incredible history of the land, dig for buried treasures, and uncover stories from the past are woven across Ontario’s Highlands. OHTO has been working with partners to leverage our unique setting by developing and promoting these experiences through our Recreational Geology program since 2012, and visitors have since flocked to the region to discover the stories of our Earth, see unique gems with their own eyes, and try their hand at rockhounding.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve revamped our Recreational Geology program and are heading strong into market for the busy summer season with a promotional campaign to support the relaunch of this program and encourage visitors to Come Wander to Ontario’s Highlands’ most rockin’ experiences this season.

The program revamp includes:

  • A revised “Hidden Gems” brochure  – available at visitor centres and attractions throughout the region to guide adventures, this brochure includes a map and information on the 44 sites of interest for recreational geologists and average Joes alike, grouped by county
  • Reskinned #OHRocks Geo-Selfie signs throughout the region – larger-than-life signs that mimic the white border of a Polaroid photo, inviting visitors to snap a selfie to remember the scenic views and unique experiences
  • A ‘Geo-Selfie’ digital map  – available on ComeWander.ca, detailing the locations of the Geo-Selfie Polaroid signs across the region
  • A featured recreational geology story on ComeWander.ca – highlighting experiences and sign locations across Ontario’s Highlands

Promotional efforts to increase the buzz around this revamped program will include digital ads, as well as an exciting ‘#OHRocks Geo-Selfie’ social media contest launching July 1 with prizes from across the region.

The contest will run until August 31 – with promotions on ComeWander.ca, social media channels, and in-destination by the businesses where the Polaroid signs live; enticing visitors to snap and share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #OHRocks for a chance to win either two tickets to Cavestock 2020 (Bonnechere Cave’s underground concert series) or an experience for two with Haliburton Highlands adventure guides Yours Outdoors.

Wondering how you can get involved?

  • Share the message on social media using #OHRocks
  • Download a copy of the digital map to show visitors where they can go to snap their own ‘Geo-Selfie’ near you
  • Encourage visitors to share their ‘Geo-Selfies’ using #OHRocks for a chance to win
  • Suggest visitors download a copy of the “Hidden Gems” brochure for more information on recreational geology sites across Ontario’s Highlands

If you have any questions about our Recreational Geology program or promotional efforts, please feel free to contact me at Julie.mulligan@ohto.ca.

Looking forward to a rockin’ season ahead,

Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager

Increase Your Exposure: May 2019

With the success of our recent marketing efforts and partnerships, we’ve had some inquiries into how to best participate in Come Wander and get involved in marketing opportunities.

We’re driven to create content and share stories – whether written on our website, compiled through our newsletter, promoted in video, or captured in photos – that will resonate with our audiences and inspire readers to take action. We also want to make sure we are sharing authentic stories from across Ontario’s Highlands and representing our partners like you.

If you’re wondering how you can increase your exposure, participate in Come Wander, and boost your chances to be featured in marketing special initiatives, here are the top 5 things we look for:

1. Standout Product & Experience

We have a strategic, visitor-centric, and experiential approach to tourism development. To meet our brand promise to our visitor, and build trust, we need to be sure experiences we’re suggesting to visitors standout in terms of quality, uniqueness, and customer service. We want to do everything we can to ensure visitors are having positive experiences they can rave about to best leverage word-of-mouth marketing and build advocates for the region.

2. Eagerness to Partner

We invest in opportunities and promotions to inspire visitors to Come Wander Ontario’s Highlands and one way we can leverage our efforts is to partner, whether that be with provincial, sub-regional, or individual business partners. These opportunities include things like hosting Influencer trips, coordinating video and photo shoots, and paid digital advertising pushes. We look for partners who are eager to work with us and who see the value in these opportunities, and we prioritize those who are willing to contribute to the opportunity – this doesn’t necessarily have to be a strict financial investment, but could instead be an investment of time, a reduced rate (i.e. charging for hard costs only) for an experience being promoted, or even comping an experience or upgrade.

3. Keep Us in the Loop

We can’t share what we don’t know. We strive to stay aware of exciting news and new experiences being developed across Ontario’s Highlands and have processes in place to ensure we are doing so (i.e. following and monitoring businesses on social media, collecting responses to Monthly Guiding Questions and Seasonal Product Knowledge Forms, connecting with partners). If you think there’s something we should be aware of – a new business, event, or experience you’re excited about; a story you think should be shared; a topic you don’t feel is represented in our current content – please tell us! Fill in a Monthly Guiding Question or Seasonal Product Knowledge Form, send us an email, or give us a call at 613-629-6486 to make sure we’re kept in the loop.

4. Customer Reviews

This goes back to the standout product and experience because checking online reviews are one way potential visitors, as well as our team, evaluate an experience. It’s important to not only have a listing on sites like TripAdvisor and Google My Business, but also to monitor these listings and engage with reviewers. A positive review is a great (and free!) marketing opportunity, and a negative review is a chance to correct course and show that you care about the experience of your visitor.

5. Quality Imagery

It’s well-known that visuals help improve engagement and catch the eyes of consumers, whether that’s in a post on social media, a blog, a newsletter, or an advertisement. We share imagery from across the region constantly and are often on the hunt for great shots to visually display the visitor experience in an eye-catching way. We do have a database of imagery we’ve collected through photoshoots and partnerships, but we know that we don’t have imagery for every single business or experience across the region. This is where we turn to our partners like you to reach out for high quality imagery of your businesses and experiences that we can share to help further your story.

If you have any questions about what I’ve outlined above, or want to discuss potential marketing opportunities, please feel free to contact me.

Wishing you a wanderful summer season,

Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager

Visual Engagement: April 2019

Though recent weather might have tried to trick us, spring is here and we’re focusing our efforts now on planning ways to inspire visitors to Come Wander Ontario’s Highlands in the warmer months ahead. Before we make a total shift and pack up our parkas though, we wanted to take a quick look back at a successful winter season and share with you some of the outcomes we saw as a result of our digital marketing efforts.

Knowing the benefits of engaging visitors with visual content and the strength of video when it comes to storytelling, we once again integrated videos in our marketing efforts to inspire visitors over our snowy season. We took advantage of the snow that blanketed the region this winter to collect image and video footage to create videos around five key winter experiences in Ontario’s Highlands – three of which were promoted this winter with all five videos being used next winter.

The three videos shared this winter were focused on highlighting three key experiences and garnered the following results:

  • Snowmobiling: Received a reach of over 242,000 and 7,528 engagements
  • Dogsledding: Received a reach of over 229,600 and 12,516 engagements
  • Cabin Getaways: Received a reach of over 197,232 and 4,867 engagements

We partnered with operators in Haliburton County on this project, and the successes and results they saw at their businesses are a clear testament to the benefit of these types of partnerships. Here’s what some of our partners shared:

  • Tanya, from Winterdance Dogsled Tours, let us know that she could directly credit at least 14 new bookings to the video created, and that phone calls and emails to her team were way up from previous years and lasted later into the winter season. During the two-week period the dogsledding video was supported with an additional digital advertising push, she even shared that they were finding it a bit challenging to keep up with the volume – a great problem to have!
  • Tegan, from Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve shared with us a snapshot of their Google Analytics, comparing the two-week period the snowmobiling video had an extra push to the same two-week period last year. As you can see below, their website traffic was increased for the duration of this push, with more than double the users on some days.

haliburton-forest-analytics-feb-4-18.png

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: there is strength in numbers! The Come Wander brand was created to represent Ontario’s Highlands and share the stories from across the region. By working together to share the same message and promote the destination, we can increase the reach of our stories and inspire more people to visit our incredible region.

Happy wandering,

Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager

Instagram Insight: March 2019

We understand that it can sometimes feel like maintaining your social media channels is a full-time job. If one of your 2019 goals is to grow your social media presence, consider investing a bit more time and effort into your Instagram channel. Instagram’s simple, visual platform shows constant growth, and new opportunities continue to unfold as the platform develops. Here are some quick stats about Instagram that might give you pause:

  • Instagram is the fastest growing social network with over 1 billion users [Source]
  • 65% of Instagram users are between the ages of 18-35 with an even split between women and men [Source]
  • Instagram has edged out Snapchat and Facebook as the top social platform for teenagers, raising questions about the future popularity of each social medium [Source]

Further, thanks to Instagram’s more straight-forward privacy settings, public photos from Instagram can be embedded onto websites using third party tools, which can extend the reach of either your posts, or those of your visitors. For WordPress-based websites, there are plugins available to embed and display your own feed on your website, and an app like Repost is great for sharing posts from other Instagrammers while giving them credit.

We embed galleries on ComeWander.ca, like in this recent story featuring four local bakeries, and popular websites like Narcity also use embedded Instagram photos for visuals, which click through to the source on Instagram, as illustrated here:

Instagram Insights 1

Have I piqued your interest yet? If so, here are a few small things you can do to start growing your Instagram channel today.

1. Activate

The premise of Instagram is simple: it’s a venue for sharing photos. You can do so in one of two ways – by uploading your own, or by reposting someone else’s. The easiest way to get your account started is to post your own photos. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to snap a pic of a sunset from the dock, a mouth-watering meal, or your new summer product display. You can always share content from other businesses or organizations nearby that your followers will find relevant, like an upcoming event or exciting news from the community.Instagram Insights 2

Sharing photos of your customers’ experience is a great tactic that may not be available to you when you start out, but with a bit of encouragement it can become a viable source of photos for your own feed. When customers engage with you on Instagram through tagging, you simply ask if you can share their photo on your own feed and remember to give them credit in your post.

2. Encourage

It can be hard to get the ball rolling on Instagram, so sometimes the best place to start is in person. Consider printing out and framing a simple sign that encourages visitors to “follow and tag us on Instagram” with your username readily available. If you do this, be ready to monitor hashtags and geotags (wondering what these are? Keep reading!) as often as you can to interact with these users and thank them for sharing their experience. You should also include a link to your Instagram on your website so that potential visitors in the planning stage can browse your pictures and follow you too.

3. Interact

Put aside a bit of time to engage with relevant tags based on location and interest. Here’s an overview of the types of tags you can include in your posts:

Hashtag: Using the pound sign in front of any word or combination of words publicly classifies your photo under searchable tags. Examples include #MyHaliburtonHighlands, #kayak, #whitewaterbrewingco, #fridayfeeling, etc. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post.

Geotag: Instagram allows you to assign one searchable geotag, many of which already exist and will prepopulate based on your location. Examples include Carleton Place, Bonnechere Caves, and Bon Echo Provincial Park. It is possible to create a geotag if it doesn’t already exist – something you might want to do for your business so visitors can tag their location when they visit.

Username tag: You can also tag an account in your photo or in the caption so that they receive a notification that they’ve been tagged. Your followers will also see that they have been tagged in the photo. For example, you can tag us using @onhighlands.

Don’t forget to also monitor your own tags closely and engage with those users who share their experiences.

Instagram Insights 3

You’re not limited to your own tags! Hashtags and geotags present an opportunity for any user to find and interact with other users who may share their interests. Post a pic of #AlmonteOntario with the appropriate tags and you might suddenly find yourself getting likes and comments from locals and fans chiming in with their support.

Instagram Insights 4

In this instance @almontelobbybar has commented on this photo of their neighbour @tinbarnmarket. Not only does the poster (in this case, us) now have a new chance to engage with Almonte Lobby Bar, but our followers who might be planning a trip to Almonte are now aware of this business as well. A few clicks later, just a single comment has the potential to result in more followers, website views, and of course, visitors!

I hope this has been helpful to understanding and unlocking Instagram’s potential in sharing experiences and tapping into word of mouth marketing. When you’re ready to take action, don’t forget to use our regional hashtag #ComeWander – we’ll be there to cheer you on.

Happy posting,

Sara Dunbrook

OHTO’s Digital Communications Specialist

Winter Experience Videos: February 2019

You may remember that this past summer, we leveraged the power of partnerships by teaming up with Destination Ontario to create and distribute content about Ontario’s Highlands (if not, you can read about it here). One facet of this partnership was to create videos around three key summer experiences across the region and we were thrilled with the results these brought in.

It’s no secret that visual content can help increase views and engagement on social media, and after seeing the success of these summer videos, we decided to continue integrating videos into our marketing strategy this winter by creating and distributing more visual content.

We’ve taken advantage of our snowy season to collect images and video footage for five videos around key winter experiences in Ontario’s Highlands: snowmobiling, dogsledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and cabin getaways. We once again partnered with Destination Ontario on a seasonal photo and video shoot, which took place in January.

These five key videos will be shared on OHTO social channels, and pushed to a wider audience through digital advertising; and viewers will be linked to stories on ComeWander.ca for more information and links to operator websites. Three of these videos (snowmobiling, dogsledding, and cabin getaways) are launching this winter, with all five being promoted next winter.

Two of this year’s videos have already been pushed out, with the final one scheduled in the coming weeks, and we are thrilled with the initial results we’ve seen. The snowmobiling video launched February 4 and garnered over 65,000 views in just the first two weeks, while the dogsledding video launched February 15 and already has over 35,000 views.

With the increase in engagement and the buzz videos are garnering, we plan to continue utilizing and creating video content as part of our marketing efforts moving forward to inspire visitors to Come Wander Ontario’s Highlands. We look forward to sharing more of the awesome experiences across the region in the coming seasons.

Happy winter wandering,

Julie Mulligan,

OHTO Marketing Manager

Meeting the Visitor in the Digital World: January 2019

In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever that we meet visitors where they are – online. However, it’s not enough to simply be online; we also have to stand out from the crowd, hold their attention, and offer a valuable and quality experience.

We’ve spoken a lot about our visitor-first approach to tourism and about the importance of offering great experiences, but this visitor experience doesn’t start when they step foot into the region or onto your property; it starts from the moment they first engage with your business – click to visit your website, comment on or like a social post, or read past visitor reviews. Your digital presence not only influences whether a visitor chooses to book with you, but also impacts the visitor’s overall trip experience.

It’s important to make efforts to both reach and support visitors online to best leverage this digital world, which offers a space for us to meet potential visitors we wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect with.

For ideas on how to reach new audiences in 2019, we thought we’d share advice from a recent Business 2 Community blog post, which explores 3 top social trends and ways you can integrate these into your business this year. These top trends are:

  1. Micro & Local Influencers – Rather than focusing on Influencers with huge followings, look to maximize your message by working with Influencers with small, but engaged followings.
  2. Instagram Stories & Short-Lived Content – Add variety to your social posting, test out new ways of communicating your message, and connect more personably with your audience with these shorter-lived stories.
  3. Facebook Groups – Engage with customers and build stronger relationships by creating Facebook Groups in addition to your business page.

For more information on these trends and suggestions to capitalize on them, please click here to read the full post. Don’t forget that articles like this are just a guide, and it’s important to know your audience and track your marketing performance to know what works best for your business.

These tactics are great ways to garner some attention and reach visitors in the digital world, but what happens once you connect? How does your digital presence support your online visitor? It’s important to make sure channels meet the visitor’s needs with information about your experience clearly available, easy-to-navigate websites, and straightforward booking processes.

If you’re feeling like your website is in need of a facelift, but need some support, you may be in luck! Together, the Province of Ontario and the Ontario BIA Association are offering two types of grants to help small main street businesses across Ontario strengthen their digital and online capabilities through their Digital Main Street program. The first opportunity is specifically targeted at small town main street businesses and the second at qualifying municipal and business associations. For more information on these Digital Main Street Grants, please click here.

By putting the visitor first and ensuring we offer quality experiences from our first interaction to our last, we can build up our audience to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing and inspire more visitors to Come Wander Ontario’s Highlands.

Sending wanderful wishes for 2019,

Julie Mulligan,

OHTO Marketing Manager