Atlantic Canada Joins Forces in a National Program to Grow Tourism

The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) has been working cooperatively with Destination Canada to grow tourism in Atlantic Canada. In 2018, Atlantic Canada will invest in the Connecting America Program for the third consecutive year. This collaborative marketing venture brings partners from across Canada together to leverage an innovative, multidisciplinary, result-based marketing program focused on the US.

The program’s overall objectives are to build buzz and excitement; improve knowledge of Canada as a travel destination; shift the perception to include warm, fun, exciting and urban; and to create a sense of urgency to visit Canada.

The 2018 program is well underway. In 2017, Atlantic Canada’s investment of $500,000 leverages an additional $481,092 from Destination Canada. The total investment is used to stimulate interest and travel to this region of Canada. The campaign targets individuals age 25-44 from ACAT’s target markets of New York, Boston and Philadelphia who are interested in outdoor adventure, culinary and travel.

In order to best reach these individuals, the 2017 program was delivered through a three-phased approach:

  • To disrupt the marketplace drawing attention to Canada through video, paid social media and paid search;
  • To differentiate Canada from other destinations through the development of relevant content with key publisher partners and then amplify that content with paid content drivers and social post; and
  • To deliver province specific paid digital advertising to the target audience.

Overall, the 2017 Connecting America Program achieved strong results in the US market, achieving or surpassing paid media targets with notable results of 5.8 million content views (including article and video views), 1.2 billion in earned reach and over 2.1 million leads to partners.

For Atlantic Canada specifically, there were more than 8.5 million paid impressions, articles and video views of Atlantic Canada focused content. The overall the click through rate steadily improved throughout the campaign, marked by an overall lift of 150% improvement from launch to campaign end. In addition, the campaign over delivered against the established lead target achieving a 158% of the goal (125,388 vs. 64,816).

Here are samples of content, videos and social media posts created, posted and promoted on Atlantic Canada’s behalf.

GQ How to Experience Canada: Ask a Local

GQ How to Experience Canada: Ask a Local

National Geographic: Newfoundland and Labrador - Where Cosmopolitan Meets Ancient History

National Geographic: Newfoundland and Labrador – Where Cosmopolitan Meets Ancient History

The New York Times, Canada's Maritime Feature

The New York Times, Canada’s Maritime Feature

New York Times - New Brunswick Instagram

New York Times – New Brunswick Instagram

New York Times - Prince Edward Island Instagram

New York Times – Prince Edward Island Instagram

New York Times - Nova Scotia Instagram

New York Times – Nova Scotia Instagram

Connecting America Facebook Post - New Brunswick

Connecting America Facebook Post – New Brunswick

Connecting America Facebook Post - Newfoundland and Labrador

Connecting America Facebook Post – Newfoundland and Labrador

Connecting America Facebook Post - Nova Scotia

Connecting America Facebook Post – Nova Scotia

Connecting America Facebook Post - Prince Edward Island

Connecting America Facebook Post – Prince Edward Island

The Brighter Group Attends UK Media Event on Behalf of ACAT

The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT)’s UK program includes a robust media relations plan to generate media interest and coverage of the region in the UK. Based in London, the Brighter Group has been contracted to deliver the program, which includes media events, press releases, press trips, and more. Resulting coverage in travel and lifestyle magazines, national and regional newspapers, digital and social channels builds awareness of Atlantic Canada as a premier travel destination, enticing UK travellers to make the journey.

The Brighter Group’s Emily Olsen and April Cernuschi attended TravMedia’s annual International Media Marketplace in Westminster, London on behalf of ACAT. TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace is the world’s leading event connecting journalists with the global travel and tourism industry. The ACAT table was situated adjacent to the Destination Canada table and several other Canadian Provinces and Destination Marketing Organizations. The format consisted of 15-minute meeting slots whereby media could meet with their chosen exhibitors. Brighter Group secured 28 appointments with consumer, trade and blogging media such as Express Newspapers, Travel Bulletin, Family Traveller, Rough Guides, Along Dusty Roads and Culture Trip to name a few.

TravMedia International Media Marketplace Appointments

TravMedia International Media Marketplace Appointments

Networking at TravMedia's International Media Marketplace

Networking at TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace

The TravMedia International Media Marketplace provided Brighter Group representatives an opportunity to meet one-on-one with UK media, present 2018 story ideas for general coverage, and generate interest in press trips for the upcoming year. Feedback from media appointments was quite positive and progress is being made to secure press trips and coverage in 2018.

Reaching our Targeted US Traveller

Over the last number of months, the ACAT team has been working diligently to bring to market an innovative and compelling 2018 direct-to-consumer media campaign. The goal is to enhance awareness of Atlantic Canada’s diverse tourism product in the US Mid-Atlantic and New England States and drive visitation and revenue for the four Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). This is achieved through the delivery of a highly targeted direct-to-consumer campaign.

Who are we targeting?
ACAT’s customized research has identified three priority customer segments: Older Authentic Experiencers, Younger Authentic Experiencers and Cultural Explorers. These are the segments of the population, in our target markets, who are likely to visit Atlantic Canada. All of our efforts will be focused on these three groups.

How are we reaching our priority segments?
In 2017, we launched our first 100% digital direct-to-consumer campaign in the US and in 2018 we continue to focus all efforts on digital. Research indicates consumers are online at each stage of the decision making journey and are using various hardware to research and book their travel. A fully digital campaign allows us to be a more interactive and engaging; which is more measurable, can be optimized in real time and is cost effective.  

Decision Journey - Sources of Information

Decision Journey - Hardware UsageThe campaign elevates the profile of the four provinces, with our priority segments, using technology to prospect for high intent consumers and to align our content with the content our priority segments are looking at in both the inspiration and planning phases of decision making.

When are we in-market?
The campaign launched in February and will run until the end of May 2018.

What’s new for 2018?
We are launching our first ever ACAT Influencer program. Influencer marketing is the new “word of mouth” which is very important in the decision making journey. Influencer Marketing

This new program will bring high quality social media influencers to each province in Atlantic Canada, beginning in June and July. The social media influencer will create custom content they will share with followers on their social media platforms.

We are also amplifying our social media reach with the inclusion of YouTube, Instagram and custom created content with the Boston Globe and Time Inc. The content is available on various platforms including desktop, tablet and mobile.

Finally, we have enriched our programmatic buy through the addition of premium sites at a very attractive price point. Ads will be placed on sites such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Travel and Leisure.

All of the efforts outlined above are focused on driving visitation and revenue for our region.

Atlantic Canada Academy – Online Travel Training (OTT)

ACAT hosts a training program for UK and US reservation staff and travel agents on the Online Travel Training (OTT) platform. The OTT Atlantic Canada Academy program consists of five core modules, beginning with Atlantic Canada, followed by one module each for New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Agents are tested at the end of each module and ultimately receive a certificate as a certified expert on Atlantic Canada.

Online Travel Training, Atlantic Canada Module

Online Travel Training, Atlantic Canada Module

Bonus materials are placed along the top tabs, including maps, frequently asked questions, regional contacts, key selling points, links and more. The course delivers a detailed introduction to the region, and will also serve as a future reference site for agents preparing information for clients interested in visiting the region. The OTT platform is also supported by a targeted marketing program.

US Tour Operator Reservation Staff and Travel Agent Training is Underway

Tour operator partnerships are combined with targeted promotional opportunities and face to face and online educational programming to round out an integrated US travel trade program.

Ken Erickson, representing Atlantic Canada, Anderson Vacations Travel Agent Event in Seattle

Ken Erickson, representing Atlantic Canada, Anderson Vacations Travel Agent Event in Seattle

Beginning in February 2018, our focus has been on product and destination awareness. Last month we worked with Anderson Vacations, one of our seven strategic partnerships, to promote Atlantic Canadian itineraries to their top performing travel agents in Portland, Seattle, Chicago and Boston.

During each event, an Atlantic Canada representative had the opportunity to meet with travel agents during a mini trade show, deliver a dedicated, high energy presentation highlighting our region and stimulate bookings through an incentive offered by Anderson Vacations to each travel agent in attendance.

Molly Aylward representing Atlantic Canada, Anderson Vacations Travel Agent Event in Boston

Molly Aylward representing Atlantic Canada, Anderson Vacations Travel Agent Event in Boston

We will continue to build on these efforts by conducting additional training with our remaining tour operator partners: Globus Family of Brands, American Tours International, Gate 1 Travel, Collette, Road Scholar and Atlantic Tours.

ACAT Forms Strategic Partnerships to Boost Visitation

The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT)’s UK program includes forming marketing partnerships with key UK tour operators during the peak booking seasons of winter and spring.

To promote the region to the valuable UK travel market and ultimately increase sales for the upcoming season, ACAT has formed ten joint marketing partnerships in 2018 with UK tour operators, including: Abercrombie & Kent, Bridge & Wickers, Canadian Sky, First Class Holidays, Frontier Canada, The Independent Traveller, Thomas Cook, Titan Travel, Wexas, and Windows on the Wild. Each company currently has Atlantic Canada tourism product on offer for their clients, and have expressed interest in increasing sales to the region.

Windows on the Wild Digital Ad January 2018

Windows on the Wild Digital Ad January 2018

Titan Travel Atlantic Canada Direct Mailer January 2018

Titan Travel Atlantic Canada Direct Mailer January 2018

The overall program features a wide range of activities tailored to each operator’s clientele and preferred communication methods. Confirmed 2018 activities include representation at consumer travel shows, digital campaigns, website features, social marketing, e-newsletters and blogs, along with traditional direct mail and print ads in travel magazines and national newspapers. Activities showcase Atlantic Canada’s tourism offerings through compelling images, videos, and key selling points, encouraging potential travellers to contact the operator and book an Atlantic Canada holiday.

For the second consecutive year, ACAT will also partner with Destination Canada to form three additional marketing partnerships with UK operators Canadian Affair, Trailfinders, and The Internet Traveller. As a partner in the Destination Canada travel trade program, ACAT leverages significant marketing dollars of more than 100% from both the partner operators and Destination Canada. The DC travel trade program also includes full page advertisements in the UK trade publication Selling Canada, and participation at the upcoming Canada Specialist Program travel agent roadshows in England in June.

2018 Globus E-Newsletter

2018 Globus E-Newsletter

Success of the joint marketing program is closely monitored, with operators submitting year-end sales figures based on both ACAT-related activities and overall sales to the region. A comparison from the previous year is also provided to monitor trends and identify which companies and activities produce the highest return-on-investment.

Strategic marketing partnerships with US tour operators is also a key component of the ACAT’s US Travel Trade Program. In 2018, joint marketing partnerships were formed with Atlantic Tours, Globus, Road Scholar, Gate 1, Colette, ATI, and Anderson Vacations. Tactics include a solid mix of print, digital and social media tactics used to reach travel agents and consumers through the trade channel. Those tactics included direct mail pieces, digital ads, e-news distribution to travel agents and consumers, social media posts and search engine optimization.

Understanding the Behaviour of Our US Customers

In January 2018, the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) launched an innovative direct to consumer advertising campaign in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions of the US. The focus is on differentiating each of the four Atlantic Provinces from other travel destinations and using the best media to reach our targeted potential traveller at the most appropriate time.

We identify our best prospects through the use of sophisticated market segmentation research. This reach was conducted by a highly skilled company, Environics Analytics. Environics Analytics specialize in helping destinations understand the behaviour of their customers and prospects. Their industry-leading PRIZM5 segmentation system analyzes customers and identifies the most profitable segments based on demographics, lifestyles and social values.

US TargetsThis information has allowed ACAT to identify and target three best performing, custom lifestyle segments.

Those segments are Older Authentic Experiencers, Younger Authentic Experiencers and Cultural Explorers.

Cultural Explorer, Internet, Mobile & Social Media Highlights

Cultural Explorer, Internet, Mobile & Social Media Highlights

Personas for each of the segments identify their demographic profile, geographic distribution, media habits and more. To learn more about targeting these US segments, visit our research page.

Canada Shared February 27 and 28, 2018

ACAT will partner with Destination Canada in the upcoming Canada Shared event at Canada House in Trafalgar Square, London, England. Canada Shared is a biennial event, connecting up to 32 Canadian Signature Experiences (CSEs) with UK tour operators and UK trade media, plus German, Dutch and French trade contacts. The event will take place February 27 and 28, 2018, and will include several small events over two days:

  • Panel discussion to enhance knowledge among CSEs of working directly with UK trade and increasing business.
  • Speed networking in a pre-scheduled tradeshow format with top UK tour operators.
  • British Annual Canada Travel Awards (BACTAs), which recognizes excellence among UK travel writers and tour operators in promoting Canada.
  • New for 2018, a consumer event in partnership with Wanderlust magazine which will see 120 of their readers descend on Canada House to meet the CSE’s and provincial representatives. UK tour operators will also be on hand to help convert bookings.

Confirmed CSEs from Atlantic Canada:

Anna-Marie Weir, Roads to Sea, New Brunswick chats with UK tour operator  Liz Lunnon, Discover the World at the 2016 Canada Shared in London, England.

Anna-Marie Weir, Roads to Sea, New Brunswick chats with UK tour operator
Liz Lunnon, Discover the World at the 2016 Canada Shared in London, England.

About the CSE Program:
Destination Canada’s Canadian Signature Experiences (CSE) are a collection of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences found only in Canada.

Experiences are the new currency that differentiates tourism businesses and destinations around the world. They are expanding the ways travellers can engage with people, places and cultures. Highlighting some of the country’s most innovative products for international visitors, CSEs show the world what Canada’s tourism brand is all about.

Program Highlights:

  • The CSE collection helps eligible tourism businesses promote their product internationally.
  • The program makes it easier for the travel trade industry to sell more of Canada. Media can leverage the collection to find a rich array of story ideas and resources to share with their audiences.
  • There are currently over 200 Canadian Signature Experiences, representative of all provinces and territories, in the collection.

ACAT’s New York City Media Appointments

The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism’s (ACAT) annual media relations plan concentrates efforts on the regular distribution of news releases, in-market media events, desk-side media appointments, media outreach and media trips to the region. Redpoint, ACAT’s current in-market media relations firm, leads activities on behalf of the marketing initiative. Through their leadership, we are building awareness for the authenticity and distinctiveness of Atlantic Canada vacations and inspiring US media to produce thoughtful full-length feature stories in print publications, online travel sites and social media platforms.

In February 2018, media relations professionals from each of the four Atlantic Provinces will travel to New York City and join forces with the Redpoint team to execute a highly concentrated set of relationship building media appointments.

The appointments are a mix of desk-side meetings with editors of key publications and highly focused discussions with freelance journalist. The schedule of meetings will include publications such as the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Sherman’s Travel.

During the appointments each provinces will have the opportunity to make an authentic and meaningful connection with media, to set themselves and their province apart from other destinations, to convey with energy and excitement their innovative story ideas for 2018, to gain feedback and to establish and build a relationship.

The culmination of all media relations efforts is to increase visitation and revenue for New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Katherine Henry with the World’s Largest Lobster in the "Lobster Capital of the World" Shediac, NB.

Katherine Henry with the World’s Largest Lobster in the “Lobster Capital of the World” Shediac, NB.

Gina Dolecki and Rick Stanley of Ocean Quest. Fresh scallops for dinner during the Taste Beneath The Sea adventure in NL.

Gina Dolecki and Rick Stanley of Ocean Quest. Fresh scallops for dinner during the Taste Beneath The Sea adventure in NL.

Katherine Henry, Chris Miranda and Gina Dolecki are happy to have bubbly and bacon jam at Domaine de Grand Pré in Grand Pré, NS.

Katherine Henry, Chris Miranda and Gina Dolecki are happy to have bubbly and bacon jam at Domaine de Grand Pré in Grand Pré, NS.

Vickie Feldman de Falco meeting ALL the locals thanks to Tranquility Cove Adventures in Georgetown, PEI.

Vickie Feldman de Falco meeting ALL the locals thanks to Tranquility Cove Adventures in Georgetown, PEI.

ACAT’S UK Media Event

The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) hosted an Atlantic Canada media event at Sea Containers in London, England on Tuesday, January 30. The annual event provides an opportunity for Atlantic Canada representatives to network with UK media, present 2018 story ideas for general coverage, and generate interest in press trips for the year ahead.

The Brighter Group, ACAT’s in-market media relations firm, invited key journalists from a range of publications including national and regional newspapers, consumer magazines, key trade titles, travel websites and blogs.

2018 UK Media Event

2018 UK Media Event

2018 UK Media Event

2018 UK Media Event

The annual event is an important activity within ACAT’s media relations plan, which also includes press releases, media visits, in-markets events in partnership with Destination Canada, and more. The program generates awareness of Atlantic Canada’s tourism product and delivers valuable third-party endorsement of the region.