The annual marketing cycle at Tourism Prince Rupert means that our roles transition at the end of each summer season.
In summer we are focused on delivering on the results of our marketing, especially through welcoming the travel writers and tour operators who have responded to our message by visiting Prince Rupert. In September we begin again by refreshing our marketing materials and planning the next round of marketing activity.
This year we’re wrapped up in redesigning our Visitor Guide. Refreshing our “brand,” making sure that the way we present ourselves is consistent with what we offer, and playing to our competitive strengths, was identified as a priority in the Prince Rupert Tourism Plan released in 2008. The Plan was the result of very extensive visitor research here, funded by the Tourism BC program Community Tourism Foundations (CTF), and was created by a large group of Prince Rupert’s tourism stakeholders as facilitated by Tourism BC.
Each year since then we have been able to secure funding through Tourism BC’s sister program, Community Tourism Opportunities (CTO), to bring our marketing materials in line with the brand. In 2009 we were able to create a small subcommittee of the working group that created the Tourism Plan to guide a new “brand” – refreshing the way we promote ourselves through a new logo, tagline, imagery, and a “feel” that is consistent to what we offer.
In 2010 (bear in mind that these are provincial fiscal years, March to March) we received CTO funding to redesign our website, and in 2011 funding to finish the rebranding by changing the look of our annual Visitor Guide.
We want the Visitor Guide to support the work we’ve already done. That means not just the look, but also promoting and enhancing the new features incorporated into the website – and in other projects such as the mobile web application introduced this summer.
One of the ways that we’re doing this is by introducing enhanced business pages on www.VisitPrinceRupert.com as we talk to our members about advertising in the Guide. While our old website only allowed us to promote individual business members through a directory-style listing, we can now offer what amounts to a miniature website with photos and business features.
We will also use the redesigned Guide to promote the new mobile web application, and of course Tourism Prince Rupert’s social media sites. On Facebook and Twitter, especially, we can provide real-time marketing – such as promoting events as they’re announced, which is something that’s impossible to do with an annual Guide.
The new Guide will also include 2D barcodes to allow visitors or potential visitors to scan them into their mobile phones, taking them to pages on the website where they can learn more. This allows us to shorten the articles in the Visitor Guide, which is also consistent with the tastes of today’s consumer. We can use the extra space in the Guide to provide travel tips and other information. This is consistent with a shift in philosophy that we first introduced with the website. In the past we’ve tried to provide compelling information about Prince Rupert to introduce ourselves to potential visitors, which acts as a souvenir of Prince Rupert for those who visit, while now we’ve shifted to converting interest into paying visitors.
We’ll be wrapped up in this project, as well as taking care of many other initiatives, until at least Christmas. It’s fun, deciding which information will be the most useful to visitors, selecting images, and, most of all, getting excited about what the new Guide will look like when it’s released in early 2012.