TOTA and the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) are putting the power of CTC's leading-edge 'Explorer Quotient®' marketing program directly into the hands of communities and local destination marketing organizations (DMOs) in the Thompson Okanagan.
This spring Tourism Sun Peaks became the first DMO in the region to sign up with TOTA and CTC for a sub-licence giving it access to the full EQ program – a comprehensive collection of international 'market segmentation' data and tools to help organizations increase the effectiveness of their travel marketing. Tourism Sun Peaks handles worldwide marketing for the large year-round mountain resort just north of Kamloops.
Tourism Valemount and Shuswap Tourism recently became the second and third DMOs to register for Explorer Quotient sub-licences, and additional communities and DMOs across the Thompson Okanagan are now considering signing up for EQ.
In mid-2011 TOTA was the first organization in B.C. to subscribe to the full EQ program, and since then it has begun to incorporate EQ into its regional tourism marketing campaigns, materials and websites. EQ is also a key part of the draft new 10-year Thompson Okanagan Regional Tourism Strategy, developed with grassroots input from stakeholders over the past year.
The EQ tourism marketing program was developed after years of study by CTC and Environics Research into the social values and travel motivations of people in Canada's 10 key tourism markets around the world. It shows that potential visitors to Canada fall into nine "explorer types", and four of these – Free Spirits, Authentic Experiencers, Cultural Explorers, and Rejuvenators – are most likely to travel to the Thompson Okanagan for the types of experiences offered here. By gearing their destination experiences and their marketing to the values and travel desires of their most likely visitors, communities and DMOs throughout the region can improve their marketing and attract more travellers.
This spring TOTA and CTC announced they would make two-year EQ sub-licences available to communities and DMOs in the Thompson Okanagan, so that not only can local destinations directly gain the benefits of EQ research and marketing tips at a much-reduced cost, but they can also co-ordinate with the EQ marketing approach now being taken by TOTA – giving the whole region a more consistent tourism message.
TOTA CEO Glenn Mandziuk says, "We are very pleased to see that communities and local tourism organizations are signing up for EQ. It offers a huge volume of sophisticated market research that DMOs and others can use to develop strong and effective marketing messages tailored to the unique visitor experiences in their area."
Tourism Sun Peaks President Christopher Nicolson says, "Our research has identified that our guests best fall into interest groups, rather than just age and gender categories, so the EQ segmentation works very well for us and acts as a guide for all of our communications. We are excited to work with TOTA on this new initiative and anticipate generating many new visits to Sun Peaks and the region."
TOTA Market Experiences Specialist Howard Grieve says TOTA will work in the coming months with the new EQ sub-licence groups to support them as they learn more about EQ and start to use its marketing techniques in their promotional campaigns – including websites, print materials, and social media.
"We are excited to get EQ into the hands of stakeholders and communities so they can use it at the grassroots level," Grieve says. "EQ helps us create images and messages that tell the compelling stories of the people and places of the Thompson Okanagan, and let visitors know about the exciting and memorable experiences they can have here. This powerful approach is central to the new Regional Tourism Strategy, and as more destinations adopt EQ it will help us all be more successful in marketing tourism for our region."
Grieve notes that TOTA will offer marketing workshops to EQ sub-licensee stakeholders, and CTC plans to hold at least one EQ workshop per year in the region.
More information about EQ is available from TOTA and CTC at: www.totabc.org/corporateSite/eq/ and http://en-corporate.canada.travel/ExplorerQuotient.
Web version of our annual guide for visitors to the region.
Marketing and information for the Travel Trade industry
Market site for a collection of iconic Okanagan experiences