Small Business Recovery Consulting Rebate leads to big results for agri-tourism business

May 28, 2021

Photo: Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch

In May 2020, Northern Development approved a $14,205 Small Business Recovery (SBR) Consulting Rebate for Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch to help them strategize their recovery from the losses they experienced from restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That year, the accommodation business had lost approximately 75 per cent of their local and regional guest bookings, nearly all their international guest bookings and all the weddings and family reunions that had been reserved at their property.

To help guide their recovery, Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch built upon their unique strengths and decided to showcase their property as an experience for education and agri-tourism, in addition to being a unique destination west of Prince George. The project allowed them to produce incredible video and photo assets, understand creative messaging and to utilize their existing website for marketing and promotion.

“Having the honour of being recipients of the NDIT grant, we were fortunate enough to have a local consulting team help us build and plan for recovering our business through and beyond COVID,” said Maureen Woodhouse, owner, Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch. “They strategized on how best to showcase our guest ranch; beginning locally, then regionally and, as we move through COVID restrictions, nationally and eventually internationally. Our consulting team was instrumental in helping us find out what we needed and how to obtain it. A video production company came on board to bring the project to life and show so many of the unique facets of our ranch through the incredible video and photo assets they created. Having a consultant help us understand and plan for the strategic rollout of our videos and photos was paramount. With NDIT’s support, we now have the tools and education to move forward with our agri-tourism business, showcasing this unique gem to our guests.”

Working with a local communications company during the project, Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch received guidance for future marketing efforts. Deliverables included a marketing and creative strategy, training on elements of marketing, social media and earned media, one long video and eight vignettes, professional photo assets, creative materials for marketing and a rollout strategy when they launched their new video and more.

“As we have begun sharing our new-found assets on various social media platforms, we have had enormous feedback from previous guests, who have then shared to others,” said Woodhouse. “The response has been incredibly strong and overwhelmingly supportive. The enormous power of social media, coupled with the talents of the teams we worked with, has helped us reach more people; locally and regionally. We have seen incredible results with people reaching out to us for reservations because of the organic campaign that was created for our initial rollout. We are very excited to see what happens when the paid portion of the plan is initiated! With the support from NDIT, we firmly believe we will achieve a stronger foundation for what lies ahead for our guest ranch and are extremely grateful.”

Funding for Woodhouse Cottages and Ranch’s project came from Northern Development’s SBR Consulting Rebate. In April 2020, Northern Development adjusted the former Forestry Affected Business Consulting Rebate to include businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBR Consulting Rebate helps businesses in a variety of industries access the professional support they need to weather the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.

Both the SBR Consulting Rebate and Competitiveness Consulting Rebate programs are temporarily closed and both will begin accepting applications June 1, 2021. Learn more about the SBR Consulting Rebate and Competitiveness Consulting Rebate.