Success of Tourism Nanaimo’s 2016 Marketing Campaign Evident To Regional Stakeholders
NANAIMO, BC - Tourism Nanaimo’s mission for 2016 was ambitious: switch the perception of Nanaimo from that of a mandatory stop on the way to more well known destinations, into a premier tourist hub in its own rights. As 2017 begins, the results from last year’s tourism marketing campaign are coming in, and they’re showing that public investment into the local tourism industry has definitely paid off.
Early in 2016, Tourism Nanaimo identified an opportunity to appeal to more short-haul travellers who are already considering a road trip to Vancouver Island as an alternative to travelling abroad. To make this happen, “we needed to change the way people think of Nanaimo as a destination,” says Kristina Crowson, a senior strategist with Array Web + Creative, the firm contracted to execute campaign marketing and design. “Nanaimo’s reputation with travellers is often that of a drive-through city - the place you have to go through on the way to Tofino. We gave people reason to think otherwise.”
Example of a print ad prepared for publications like Salt Magazine
To encourage more Island travellers to visit Nanaimo, Array’s team developed the “Meet You Here” campaign, utilizing multiple communications strategies across a variety of channels - from Facebook and Instagram to digital billboards to 360° videos. By taking advantage of modern marketing tactics and partnerships with companies like Cabela’s, Nanaimo’s brand was showcased to millions of potential travellers in key target regions like Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle.
Example of a billboard ad featured in Vancouver
These efforts were supported by an interactive website complete with itineraries and print media focusing on the "Top 10 Things To Do in Nanaimo” - a list that offered something exciting for every kind of traveller to Vancouver Island. For example, the ‘Nanaimo Bar Trail’ invited visitors to enjoy various interpretations of the Harbour City’s namesake treat at local shops and restaurants, guided by a downloadable brochure map.
The now-legendary Ammonite Falls
In addition to culinary adventures, the “Nanaimo’s Top 10” list included a variety of cultural and recreation-based activities that many locals didn’t even know about until the marketing campaign was launched, like the Cedar Yellowpoint Artisan trail and the Malaspina Galleries on Gabriola Island. Tourism Nanaimo’s success in promoting outdoor adventures through emotionally engaging advertising not only turned many ‘lookers’ into ‘bookers’, but also provided valuable data on Nanaimo’s potential as a recreation hub.
Because the Array team continually tracked user interaction with online ads and the Explore Nanaimo website, they were able to identify what imagery and messaging received the most engagement and what kinds of experiences that Nanaimo’s tourists desire most. For instance, the most popular itineraries downloaded from the Explore Nanaimo website were those that featured low-barrier opportunities to enjoy Nanaimo’s natural wonders, such as hikes to Ammonite Falls or sunrise watching at Yellowpoint Lodge. Imagery related to these experiences was then used in banner ads on popular websites frequented by target travellers - such as TheWeatherNetwork.com and CalgaryHerald.com - which were seen over 5.6 million times and achieved click-through rates far above industry average.
The Malaspina Galleries - a hidden wonder
While the future of Nanaimo’s publically-funded tourism marketing remains unknown, one thing is for sure - Nanaimo & Region has made huge gains in its reach and awareness as a tourism destination.