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A Case Study in Marketing Communities through Parks

The Setting Thunder Bay is a multicultural city of 123 000 on the northwest shore of Lake Superior Gateway city to vast expanses of Canadian Shield and boreal forests Centre of commerce, healthcare and education for a region of 235 000 people spanning an area of 526 371 square km Gateway to Sleeping Giant, Wabakimi and Quetico Provincial Parks, and the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Traditional forestry, mining, shipping and manufacturing economy transitioning to knowledge based with a focus on education, value added manufacturing and health sciences 800 km east of Winnipeg, 1400 km northwest of Toronto and 600 km north of Minneapolis/St Paul and 60 km north from the Canada US Border

The Opportunities • • • • • • • • •

On the shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake Home of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area of Canada Dramatic Canadian Shield landscapes Extensive biodiversity & Accessible wilderness Culturally diverse with a strong Anishbawbae history Exceptional airlift capacity, deepwater port and decent highway networks Significant inventory of Provincial and National Parks within the region A region hungering for economic transition Urban amenities

Challenges There is a misunderstanding that Nature Based Tourism does not significantly benefit municipal economies • Sharing the landscape with traditional industry – forestry and mining • Reluctance to develop new opportunities in eco and adventure tourism beyond fishing and hunting • Gaps in consumer ready marketable product • Risk of alienating the urban tourism industry while focusing on the outdoors

The Experiment •

• • • •

Recognize the Lake and the Parks as the unique draw – the urban experiences are ancillary but essential Develop a marketing campaign that promotes a culturally rich urban centre, by leading with the iconic outdoor experiences that surround it Take a consumer research focused approach Meshing of urban and outdoor experiences together to showcase extensive itineraries Highlighting very high quality experiences “Wow” the consumer

Building the Partnerships Consistent with the City’s new tourism marketing strategy to lead with the outdoors around Lake Superior and Sleeping Giant Park The development of a unique contest based campaign was developed out of initial discussions with OTMPC and Ontario Parks “Seven Days” became the Great Ontario Outdoor Adventure (GOOA) of a Lifetime focus for 2008 and was a focal point for the GOOA marketing program

A Diversity of Partners •City of Thunder Bay •OTMPC •FedNor •NOHFC •Ontario Parks •Nikon •The McGuffins •Westjet •Northwest Airlines •Fort William Historical Park •Thunder Bay Country Market vendors •Masala Grille

•Wilderness North •Valhalla Inn •Enterprise Car Rental • •Gear Up for Outdoors •Thunder Bay Art Gallery •Thunder Bay Historical Society •Caribou •Eureka •NorthFace •Lake Superior Visits •Eagle Canyon Adventures

Accomplishments Seven Days was the first major marketing effort to promote Thunder Bay as one of Canada’s great outdoor cities Successfully merged urban cultural and outdoor experiences and showed that a first class travel experience focusing on the outdoors could benefit the urban tourism economy as well Leading edge use of Web 2.0 as a tourism marketing tool to promote the campaign Celebrated the city’s intimate connection with its Provincial and National Parks systems Build community’s tourism marketing capacity, and creation of a legacy project

Results •

25 246 entries to the contest

51% increase in visitation to www.VisitThunderBay .com during the contest period

Visits by 20 travel media in 2008, an increase of 150%

Raised awareness of Thunder Bay as a easily accessible and culturally exciting travel destination for outdoor enthusiasts

Positioning Thunder Bay closer as one of Canada’s best outdoor cities

Increased revenue for regional partners and the development of new marketable experiences

Lessons Learned • Be consumer focused in marketing your community around the outdoor experiences • Pushing boundaries of bureaucracy to lead with an entrepreneurial spirit • Weave in the urban experiences • Partnerships at all levels are essential • Establishment of high expectation of quality from suppliers/partners – lead with the best • Embrace the web as a marketing and story telling tool • Ensure the package is marketable – and make it readily available to consumers • Celebrate the success with the community – Communicate • Learn from the partners

Building Legacies • Seven Days will be an annual campaign for the City of Thunder Bay - the major thrust of our leisure marketing • Program will expand to include new and unique local elements • 90% partners have confirmed support for 2009 • New partners are currently expressing interest • Local industry has embraced the campaign direction – new product and greater attention to quality are now evident.

More Information Tourism Thunder Bay


Seven Days with the Giant  

ESTC 2008: Seven Days with the Giant - Mr. Paul Pepe, City of Thunder Bay

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