Pre-EOI Background: Marketing Strategy & Execution

Dear potential new partner:

Travel has changed, and the way we market to travellers needs to change too.

In 2014, in an effort to compete against destinations with far bigger budgets, Explorers’ Edge embarked on an innovative (at that time) strategy that saw the company lead the Canadian tourism industry in the shift to social, mobile, content marketing. The results were overwhelmingly successful, allowing us ultimately to bypass unaffordable (for us) federal and provincial marketing campaigns, and to instead target international markets DTC with exceptional ROI. This also led to our ability to build the successful business case for commercial air service at the Muskoka Airport. After a decade, our blue-chip content strategy continues to serve us well for the strategic purposes of introducing new audiences to the region, and elements of it will always be in our wheelhouse.  

Insert pandemic context here; where the whole world turned upside down; yada, yada.

But also…

With so many destinations, DMOs and individual operators now producing similar content and messaging via primarily the same channels, the time has come for a new strategy to “punch through the noise” (on social media in particular) as well as duplication to truly convert those ‘open-to-consideration’ into not just visitors – but repeat visitors.

In 2024, Explorers’ Edge is seeking an agency or individuals to assist us as we build an innovative strategy to once again lead marketing-for-impact in the tourism and hospitality sector, and to execute certain areas of that strategy as well.

Sustainable Tourism: The Higher Yield Strategy

As a destination development organization that espouses the tenets of regenerative tourism, a key objective of the organization is to attract “higher yield visitors.”

For many years (barring the anomalies of the pandemic), provincial statistics have indicated that the number of visitors to the region averages around 4 million annually, and that these visitors produce, on average, $800 million in revenue. A regenerative – or “community-centric” approach to tourism requires that: to protect the natural landscape from over-tourism; to ensure residents don’t have a negative regard for the tourism sector’s impact on the community; to ensure workforce levels are not in deficit; and to ensure tourism businesses are flourishing, a strategy must be undertaken that exponentially increases overall revenue, without significantly increasing the number of visitors. This is known as a higher yield strategy. So, we are looking for a marketing agency to help us attract, say, 5 million visitors, while also ensuring revenue – eventually – is increased to over $1 billion annually.

Please do note that a “higher yield” visitor is not necessarily a luxury traveller, though he or she may be. She is simply someone who spends more than other visitors on a similarly-styled stay, stays longer and spends more, or comes repeatedly and spends. (Hey that last one sounds like a destination loyalty program.)

Also please note that we are one of the lower-funded regional tourism organizations, so we have sharpened our teeth on the mantra of “do more with less.” Don’t let that scare you off, though; it just means we are seriously open to creative ideas (fun!) that are the result of a really tight, superior strategy.

The Building Blocks

Explorers’ Edge has commenced a few big initiatives that will help us achieve our significant goal of building sector resiliency via a higher yield strategy, and we are considering some new ways of connecting with travellers before, during and after their stay.

These are a few of the things we can elaborate on if you’d like to participate in a Zoom call with us for more details, all of which will be important considerations for the development and execution of a new marketing strategy:

  • Our new Regenerative Travel Agency – a social enterprise to develop higher yield itineraries and packages –  is scheduled to launch in 2024. This online/personal hybrid model will allow us to connect with niche segments to develop better travel experiences, and will be a big focus of our promotional efforts.
  • We will introduce the concept of “transformational travel” to our travel design and product development programs, a growing trend that is gaining significant traction coming out of the pandemic in particular.
  • We will find new ways to connect with travelers and to build loyalty for this destination and our tourism and hospitality businesses, including developing cohort-related user groups that are facilitated by EE staff.
  • We will look at niche product development to stand out in a market seeped in general travel experiences
  • We will definitely be looking for innovative ways to develop leads and ensure conversions, including multiple touch points. (Does anyone read all those emails anymore? We are guessing not. Product-related interest groups on social for facilitated discussions and talks with industry experts? We’re thinking yes.)

    Here are some of the things we hope you know a lot about:
  • Marketing strategy
  • Creative
  • Digital / social marketing
  • Storytelling
  • Photography/videography
  • User/business-generated content
  • Purchase funnels
  • Lead nurturing
  • Research
  • Branding
  • Tech innovation and AI potential
  • (Very) measurable objectives

To respond to the EOI for Marketing Strategy Development & Execution, click here.