Apparently, global tourism is increasing and Ontario is not keeping up with the global rate, resulting in tourism dollars leaving the province and being spent by international visitors somewhere else.
Ontario Tourism Needs To Work Harder To Attract Tourists To Your Ontario Region.
According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce report, Closing the Tourism Gap: Creating a Long-Term Advantage for Ontario, Ontario has foregone nearly $16 billion in visitor spending between 2006 and 2012 by not keeping up with global growth trends.
“Based on the average spend per overnight and same-day traveller to Ontario in each year, the tourism gap represents $16 billion in foregone spending from 2006 to 2012 alone. In other words, if the province had kept pace with global tourism growth, visitors to Ontario from abroad would have spent $16 billion more during this period.” (page 23)
There are already plenty of ways to attract international visitors. What’s wrong with Ontario Tourism?
Is Your Ontario Tourism Marketing Guilty Of These #Fails?
- Your Ontario tourist region is “difficult to get to” - have you made it clear why it’s not?
- People do not understand all the features available (anchors, bare necessities)
- Your community is not on anyone’s bucket list – have you made it clear why it should be?
- Your tourism website makes users groan with navigation headaches.
- You have little to no SEO strategy & social media presence
“Ontario’s tourism sector needs a dedicated strategy driven by the provincial government that not only promotes tourism within Ontario, but also focuses on drawing in visitors from around the world. If we can do this successfully, the province will achieve substantial economic gains while keeping up with global growth trends.”
-- Media Release from Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
It’s Still Possible to Embrace & Promote Your Rural Ontario Region
Being rural might be a tough sell for attracting tourists to your Ontario region, since it’s harder to get to. Sure, Ontario doesn’t have the calibre of public transportation infrastructure found in many countries around the world, like in European countries. But lack of efficient transportation is just one of many issues contributing to the growing tourism deficit in Ontario. Don’t get hung up on “lack” - work with what you have!
There are lots of benefits to rural Ontario tourist regions. Communicating those hidden gems online (as well as how to overcome the problem of public transportation) is exactly how you can succeed in getting tourists to plan to visit you. After all: how many tour busses, and cars, stop each year in once considered out-of-the-way spots like Algonquin Park, Vankleek Hill, or Pakenham, Ontario?
Rural Destinations Mean:
- Relaxing in the peace and quiet – away from daily stress
- Inspiring natural scenery – no concrete jungle here
- Being flexible – adapting your schedule according to moods and opportunities as they arise
- Connecting – meeting the locals in an authentic experience
- Personalizing to create a unique, customized adventure; people want an experience that no one else has had
“Off the Beaten Path” is the Mantra of Experiential Tourism, therefore there has never been a better time to promote rural tourism.
3 Must Do Steps to Attract Tourists To Your Ontario Region
Here are 3 simple steps to promote rural tourism and draw in tourists to your Ontario region year-round.
1. Sell Your Region’s Unique Features – Getting on the Bucket List
To attract tourists to your Ontario region, you must show why you are bucket list worthy. You need a simple, specific statement on your tourism website about how the unique features of your region (attractions, food, accommodations) provide the benefits that the tourists 1) want and 2) can’t get anywhere else.
The best way to create this image is to craft a unique story about your region. Look at the success rural Ontario has seen. Name a person in Ontario who doesn’t know they can expect Ontario’s wine and bike paths wrapped up in a cozy husk of cheese in Prince Edward County. Which is different to Niagara (Rainbow misted Falls and ice wine). And before you can rebut that you don’t have such anchors: think of equally successful Muskoka who put themselves on the map with chairs. Chairs, people. You have to get creative.
2. Share Your Story – Yes, This Means Social Media
Your destination (or brand) story must be shared for it to reach people; that can be done using:
B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. (HubSpot, 2015) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphone. (Google, 2015) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Facebook continues to have the most engaged users – 70% log on daily, including 43% who do so several times a day. (Pew Research Center, 2015) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
59% of Instagram users are on the platform daily, including 35% who visit several times a day. (Pew Research Center, 2015) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. (Buffer, 2014) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising – and the majority of WOM happens online.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. Forbes, Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media
3. Scrutinize Your Performance – Using Professional Tracking Software & Analytics
Professional tracking software, such as HubSpot, is an effective way to follow up with customers, see what performs well, and see what needs improvement.
For example, if you’re trying to connect with bus tour companies to position your destination as a stopover on their tour, you need to see which tour operators are coming to your site and follow up with them. Failing to follow up with an answer to an email question or social media comment could mean lost revenue for your community.
Ps. Learn how to turn objections into opportunities for your Ontario tourist region.
Planning Your Inbound Marketing Strategy & Creating Content
Inbound marketing is a customer-focused strategy to ensure you clearly communicate (in a variety of ways) the benefits visitors will experience when they visit your Ontario tourist region. To attract tourists to your website, research your target market, and use that research to create buyer personas. Once you know exactly what your visitors are looking for, you can create content for your tourism website to communicate that your destination has what they want.
Does this seem like a lot to catch up on? You are not alone. There are many regions in the same situation, struggling to keep pace. Professional advice can get you pointed in the right direction. Let’s work together to entice tourists to your Ontario region.