In May 2020, five destination marketing organizations (DMOs) in Northwest B.C. joined together to develop a shared regional marketing strategy to help their tourism stakeholders weather the first summer with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Tourism Prince Rupert, Tourism Smithers, Kermodei Tourism (Terrace), Tourism Kitimat and Nisga’a Tourism created a Northwest B.C. shared marketing campaign to complement their regular marketing activities.
In June, Northern Development approved their $11,562 Marketing Initiatives grant application to help the participating DMOs market their destinations to neighbouring communities in alignment with provincial health orders regarding travelling. The project included the creation of a documentary-style video highlighting the main tourism and outdoor adventure offerings available in each participating destination, design of a special deals landing page on the website and sponsored advertising in local media and social media.
“2020 was an extraordinarily challenging year for the tourism industry and we’re grateful that we could band together with other DMOs in our corner of Northwestern B.C. to collectively strengthen our marketing reach,” said Ceilidh Marlow, executive director, Tourism Prince Rupert. “Receiving 50 per cent of the costs of this marketing project significantly eased the financial burden and made it possible for organizations to participate in additional marketing when it was needed most. Beyond that, the videos that were created will be valuable marketing pieces in the future.”
On August 25, the video and four vignettes were completed and were shared on social media and visitnorthwestbc.ca. The paid marketing campaign launched September 1, 2020 and continued for eight weeks. Content was published and promoted on social media and news media sites. Advertisements linked directly to the consortium’s website, visitnorthwestbc.ca, where a custom landing page promoted special deals in each community, ranging from accommodation to adventure. Each community listed three to six special deals with an exclusive promotional code to be used at redemption.
The successful marketing campaign resulted in 5,951 clicks to the special deals page on visitnorthwestbc.ca. In total, 502,468 impressions were made on social media platforms during the eight-week campaign.
Three of the five participating organizations collect the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT), a tax of up to three per cent that can be applied to the purchase of accommodation in specific geographic areas. The revenue generated from the tax is used for local tourism marketing, programs and projects. With the sharp decline of people booking accommodations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, revenue for the destination marketing organizations (DMO) was subsequently significantly reduced.
Northern Development’s Marketing Initiatives funding program provides a maximum of $20,000, to a maximum of 50 per cent of the eligible project budget, to local governments, First Nation governments and non-profit organizations. Projects must promote or position a community or region to take advantage of opportunities that support economic vitality and diversification.