New tourism area dubbed Kawarthas Northumberland
VALERIE MACDONALD Northumberland Today Barbara Ferrell of Toronto-based Ferrell + Partners Marketing Inc. is holding a product development and packaging workshop in April for area tourism businesses. It coincides with the new marketing campaign which changes the branding name of Regional Tourism Organization 8 (Northumberland, Haliburton and Peterborough counties, plus the City of Peterborough) to Kawarthas Northumberland from Our Favourite Place.
The provincial tourism region which includes Northumberland, Haliburton and Peterborough counties, plus the City of Peterborough, is now known as Kawarthas Northumberland to the consternation of some local tourism operators.
The launch of the new marketing campaign under the new name, with the advertising tag line "Land of 1,000 perfect weekends" took place in Cobourg Tuesday.
About 100 tourism stakeholders from all four areas attended the Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8) annual general meeting at the Best Western Cobourg Inn and Convention Centre and saw the new branding plan for the first time. Almost half were from Northumberland.
The new logo contains a small attractive graphic representing the sun, water and green spaces of the region over the name 'Kawarthas' in a blue, fun-inspiring font which is three times the size of name 'Northumberland' which sits beneath in conservative green capitol letters.
Rumblings rippled around the room with some people expressing displeasure with the prominence, dominance and size given to 'Kawarthas' in the new logo, overshadowing 'Northumberland.' This same order of names is on the website which is currently under construction. The web address, once it is up and running, will be kawarthasnorthumberland.ca, consultant Jeffrey Wood of Toronto-based The Agency Next Door said in an interview following his outlining of the new marketing campaign. It is designed to draw in people from the GTA, particularly from the more easterly area.
This was a focus of concern from several people who said it was too limiting. They agreed with a Bethany design studio owner who said the region gets people from "Ottawa to the Windsor" and the marketing area shouldn't be curtailed.
Wood explained that the overall approach, relying heavily on social media, would hit a broader area, although his presentation included a GO Transit station campaign from about the Victoria Day weekend until mid-June with advertising on the walls, doors and floors, concentrating on the eastern GO stations.
The start of the marketing campaign, in May, was also of concern since people are making vacation plans before that, the consultant heard.
Campbellcroft-area horse riding farm owner Boris Khaimovich said he was disappointed with the marketing strategy because, in his view, it did little to extol the area's virtues which include green fields, fresh air and agricultural draws.
There is no marketing geared to the farm side of things, he said.
"We're targeting the new people (to this region)," Wood replied.
Earlier in his presentation, however, Wood said the marketing campaign would include key messages outlining the region's regional strengths that include farmers' markets, "outdoor fun…, delicious cuisine, deep Canadiana history, rich cultural experiences, broad entertainment options and health rejuvenation of mind and body."
Overall the plan is to "convert day trippers to weekenders," he said.
The target market is people 18 to 40 years of age, with a household income of $100,000 per year, who are extremely tech savvy, using online devices to research their travel plans before and during their getaways. These people rely on third-party reviews like those on Facebook, etc.
The campaign goes public with the website launch in May followed by other elements in June, and continues to October, Wood said.
Aspects of advertising methods include paid ads on websites such as The Weather Network, the GO Transit campaign and distribution of the new map of the Kawarthas Northumberland entitled "The Land of 1,000 Perfect Weekends." (This slide created some confusion because the website identified is visitkawarthas.ca with no mention of Northumberland, but Wood clarified this in his interview with Northumberland Today.)
In addition, a new Facebook site will be launched, regular tweeting and "getting involved in YouTube," Wood said.
There will also be online video segments showcasing areas and events like Rick Mercer does on his TV program, Wood said. About 14 opportunities throughout the summer are envisioned and organizers are already looking for "hosts." There could be a search like the one for Canadian Idol that would itself generate interest and enthusiasm, he said. Some of the areas and topics for the episodes include beer making, ballooning, the Canadian Canoe museum, Lang Pioneer Village, the Lift Locks, Tree Top Trekking and cycling.
Cobourg tourism co-ordinator Erin Wakely asked whyy Cobourg wasn't on the list and said perhaps its Sandcastle Festival could be an event. She was told that cycling throughout Northumberland would include Cobourg.
A new event pulling the Kawarthas Northumberland region together is already planned for April 28 with a Flavour Festival to be held in Peterborough, building on the new "Land of 1,000 Perfect Butter Tarts" tour that includes stops in Port Hope, Cobourg, Grafton, Warkworth and Campbellford in Northumberland County, north to Kinmount and Apsley.
In a separate presentation, Barbara Ferrell of Ferrell + Partners Marketing Inc. told tourism operators that they were in an enviable position with 34% of the people contacted in a survey wanting to return to the region; 61% of those surveyed in the GTA interested in visiting and 42% surveyed outside the GTA also interesting in visiting.
To draw in those people, along with good customer service, there should be new packages of accommodation, activities and cuisine that could spark their imagination and desire to actually come for a visit, Ferrell said. To that end, she will host a seminar April 9 in Northumberland, she said.
There is up to $114,000 in matching funds available for programs or projects that have a regional impact, the audience was also told.
People wanting more information can contact Karen Theriault, the executive director of Regional Tourism Organization 8 (Kawarthas Northumberland) located at the County of Northumberland offices in Cobourg.