The Verdict: Ottawa and NL tourism attract visitors

The results are in from tourism campaigns which urged Canadians to stray this summer.

It seemed you couldn’t turn a corner this summer without being hit by a poster or projection screen publicizing the greener grass on the other side of the country. During the season, tourism companies permeated the city of Toronto with promotional material and stunts that looked to sway Canadians into spending their dog days elsewhere.

Newfoundland & Labrador and Ottawa are giving themselves a pat on the back now that the figures for hotel occupancy, airport traffic and social media traction have come in.

Ottawa was on the hunt to change Canadians’ perception of the city, working with its AOR Mediaplus, which also did the planning, to get consumers thinking of the capital not just as the home for parliament, but also as an urban hub with an exciting nightlife. The campaign involved print, TV, online, OOH and radio elements with witty creative that drove consumers to the website.

Karen Squires, executive director of marketing, Ottawa Tourism, tells MiC that a connection can be made between the number of visits to its website, where users could book flights and accommodation, and the increase in hotel sales during the period of June and July of this year.

The number of nights booked through the online reservation system on the website increased by 2.6% as compared to last year, she says, adding that website visits increased by 4% over the same period.

“And over a third of our bookings (37.5%) used our promotion where we gave [consumers] the third night for half the price,” Squires says.

“I think we did quite well,” she adds. “We’ll continue to evolve our campaigns and moving forward, perhaps continue to integrate some of the previous imagery [of the city's additional offerings: culture, capital and nature] that we have done in the past so that people can see the holistic approach to everything that we offer.”

A better-than-anticipated response was received from Canadians during Newfoundland & Labrador’s “48 Half Hours” campaign. Facebook users were sent on a mouse-clicking frenzy with the contest to win plane tickets during the 24 hours in which it went live (or in this case, 48 half hours).

Within that period, the tourism co received 900,000 entries – which equaled to 620 per minute, according to a representative from the agency, Target, that worked on the campaign.

The easternmost province’s social media popularity rose as Facebook fans doubled to just over 27,000 and Twitter followers increased 14%. Passenger movement in major airports in the province also increased. According to the Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism website, it received 7.1% more visitors in July as compared to 2010 as well as a 0.5% increase in the accommodation occupancy rate.

The province’s “Fresh Air Projections” of clotheslines, whales and icebergs on buildings in Toronto are also worthy of a mention, as they created a good amount of buzz. The stunt reached Canadians across the country through its teaser video, with people from Saskatchewan, Ottawa, and Fredericton posting comments on the NL Facebook page.