Gravenhurst Tourism Roundtable
This morning the Chamber hosted a Spring Tourism Roundtable. The discussion allowed local tourism operators to hear about local tourism programs and initiatives from the Chamber, Muskoka Tourism & RTO12. As well, each operator attending shared information on upcoming events, promotions and partnership opportunities. We’ve have posted notes below that may be of value as you start your spring marketing strategy.
Summary of Meeting
- Danielle Millar, Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce 705-687-4432, email@example.com
- Michael Lawley, Muskoka Tourism (705) 689-0660, firstname.lastname@example.org
- James Murphy, Explorer’s Edge (705) 646-7673, email@example.com
Research & Data
- Tourism Summary Click Here
- Muskoka Tourism Consumer Insight Research
- Explorer’s Edge Resources
- Strategic Directions in Marketing Study
- April 13th, Commercial Airlines in Muskoka Airport, Stakeholder Info Session , 5-7 pm Click Here for Details
- April 14th, Tourism Marketing Summit Meeting, North Granit Ridge Golf Course, Port Sydney – 9:30am to 2:00pm. Click Here for Details
- April 21st, OTMPC Strategic Frame Review – Looking for input from stakeholders W Marriott – 5-7pm – chance to come out and speak mind to be funded by a provincial level Click Here for Details
- Visitor Information Services
- Mobile Visitor Information Services
- Enhanced Map & Partner in Regional Tourism Guide
- Big change this year – Community Marketing – Only an Enhanced Map this year – Collaborated with Muskoka Tourism to create one Regional Guide with all Chambers in the area. Emphasis on cultural activities.
- Southern Ontario Tourism Print Distribution Tour – May 8-11th * Nominal Fee for Distribution of Materials*
- Experiencegravenhurst.com New Website – Volunteers Wanted
- Experiencegravenhurst.com blog – Volunteers Wanted
- We ask that guest bloggers provide an outline of recommendations, experiences and expertise. Important to not be too promotion and focus on the guest’s perspective. http://www.copyblogger.com/successful-guest-blogging/
- Click Here to view list of topics
- ASK – We’re asking for guest bloggers – 2-3 images to accompany the blog – Experts within the community – 2-300 words on what they know best – we’ll edit, make suggestions – not too promotional – then post the blog – connect blogs to specific websites – volunteer to manage the topics of blogs and content coming in
Muskoka Tourism – Michael Lawley Comments
- Muskoka Visitor Guide -Thank you to Chamber for help with Muskoka Guide. New guide is 140,000 copies and distribution with a goal of attracting guests to further explore trip planning online.
- Tourism Marketing Summit Meeting, North Granit Ridge Golf Course, Port Sydney – April 14th 9:30am to 2:00pm – AGM follows – all invited – brand revitalization project – share with everyone that we’re using the same language to customers – leverage opportunity to share what we have working for us that other regions don’t – same messaging for all of us – ontariotravel.net – digital world very important these days – how to do analytics – later in the afternoon – AGM – great conversation in the afternoon as well.
- Discovermuskoka.com – Looking at the digital world as the path forward to reaching potential customers. 7000 visitors to website – 1.8 million page views – 336,000 outbound links – brand awareness – show consumer choice options between websites – 39% increase from previous year – consumers are using digital tours to make a buying decision – encouraging everyone to enter that world and if you are, amp them up – direct link between investment and return Focus: Romance, Health and wellness, Getaways, Entertainment, Meetings, Cycle Tourism
- Discovermuskoka.com Community Landing Pages – Gravenhurst Centric Information – Showcase accommodation, things to see and do, shopping etc. Convert interest to point back to other websites and hopefully close the sale.
- Specialty Retail Shopping – Small businesses, antiques, repurposed furniture, arts/culture community – dedicated pages presenting a different side of Muskoka – introduce them to a wonderful range of things throughout Muskoka – digital platform and introducing Muskoka Brand – Path forward
Explorers’ Edge – James Murphy Comments
- Strategic Plan – 45 pages on where money goes and priorities
- Encourage everyone to work with Muskoka Tourism and Chamber
- 1700 Partners – rely on MT and Chambers
- Consumer-centric philosophy Marketing – make it easier for consumer to choose our area over any other area in the world
- Content strategy – push over through social media feeds – FB and google ad words – tell stories in a new way – shows analytics – search for the word Muskoka has doubled over the past couple years – Muskoka in your business name, more organic traffic. How to create loyalty, new customers and new markets
- Fuel and Fun Program – 2 nights in the region – get gas card and two vouchers. Get new travelers to the region – Can use it at any tourism operator they want – sign up with RT012 to be a part of it – redeem for services -Idea to get them out of the hotels and in the area spending money
- New products and services – Ride the Edge – Motorcycle Touring – Group of Seven – Bike Cottage Country – Paddling – Craft/Beer etc. – Self guided tours getting people out in the region to get them out and about
- New markets South and GTA and this year to the US markets – Canada’s birthday is coming up – opportunity to go into the US to target expats – come here to celebrate this birthday – wilderness experience just south of Toronto
- Packages and Itineraries – Different conversations between locations – CEO’s etc. to help us articulate packages
- Commercial Airlines into Muskoka Airport– bring consumers up to airport rather than coming through border in a car – everything in our power to make it easier to choose our destination over any other. 12 week pilot project over next couple years to bring consumers in from destinations from the US and the UK. Flights out of Gatwick, opened up into Pittsburg – big thing is security screening – options to leave the least footprint on the region and most cost effective option – July and August pilot project -Work with MT and Gravenhurst Chamber – Bethune House – Marriott – Gravenhurst flavor with board and organization. -What drives us with first resorts were steamships – now new markets with airport. -Bigger scope of airline industry – let’s get into the game. Danielle – Come and express your opinions – there will be people thinking this is a negative impact – but as a Tourism Operator please respond. Trade? – Any option for trade services – loss of rail service – uphill battle of what it would take – businesses in South River who relied on the rail service – few conversations – turned to airport to try and do that – cost difference between airport and train. April 13th Wed night from 5-7 – airport dinner
- OTMPC Strategic Frame Review – Looking for input from stakeholders – April 21st – JW Marriott – 5-7pm – chance to come out and speak mind to be funded by a provincial level – co-marketing with MT etc. A lot goes on behind the scenes with this money and how it impacts the community – this region 14% on tax base – tourism spending impacts us the most – now is not the time to cut, we need more investment. Michael Lawley – strategy point of view – 150 years of equity as the premiere destination in Ontario – If not there, more option for Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara Falls etc. We need you there to prove Muskoka – Muskoka as the premiere Resort Destination. Also a -Webinar with opportunity to give feedback – strong opinion, send email to Danielle, James, Michael etc. Message needs to be consistent – need to be part of the group
- -David Rose suggested that getting the dignitaries here – on a plane – sawdust city bus – reach out to the press – why aren’t we bringing up writers, bloggers etc. take them through Muskoka – bring people here who are influencers – big tour, big story.
Gypsy Market Mews– Try to find ways to collaboratively market with other people – Glenn with Ice Cream Ice Cream – Split ads – competition means this Town is vibrant and exciting – opportunities to link our business with other businesses – Muskoka as a linked region
Historic Downtown Gravenhurst BIA – New approach – integrate itself with all initiatives – new relationships – Wharf Association – more business with the downtown whether with the BIA or not – Fashion Show May 4th – silent auction etc.
Gravenhurst Opera House – Presenting 2nd full season of professional summer theatre – last year a great success in relaunched – doubled sales compared to four year average before that – new staff team which is incredible – Krista trying to get out there on a larger scale – packaging again this year – no funding from the DTR this year though – same marketing budget for several years – sponsorship opportunities within local business community – try to bring more people to the region – bring people into Gravenhurst midweek – looking for those who want to package with us – hotel etc. can be in Muskoka as a whole – 100 + shows this season – increased rentals – great musical acts – working with local play writes – Film Festival – to impact other facilities at other places – expand programming into the fall – join Opera House mailing list
Investors Group – Isabelle Frati – Business or personal services – offer lunch and learns to local businesses as a tool for recruitment and retention strategies for topics such as, investments, retirement, goal planning, risk management, insurance, group benefits, RRSP programs etc. – free no obligation personal financial reviews – offer packages for RRSP for succession planning as well.
Joanne Lake – Forest Hill Realtor – buyers in Toronto to come here to Muskoka – Get to know businesses, to tell customers about who we are – Walker’s Point Community Centre pot luck once a month – encourage people to come into Town to come off the islands – focus on the off season – marketing for coming winters etc.
Sawdust City Brewing Company– Tourism tastings – free tours – two big events this summer – July 2nd Funk Festival – 16 diff Brewery’s, taps to Gravenhurst, Food trucks, live music. Oktoberfest Sept 30th and Oct 1st – 3 sessions – still finalizing details – Accommodation please reach out to us because we’ll list you on our site – opening up our patio every long weekend, not May 24, 6 taps out there. Trivia night, every second Tuesday, and country night is the next one April 29th – subscribe to newsletter
Frosty Pint Pub – Bob Obrien – Next Saturday pub crawl, poker run, two pubs in bb and Huntsville – May 28th partnered with Graeme Murry golf tourney at Taboo – 2nd tournament – Music Fest same day as Car Show, fundraiser for Graeme again – Sean Cotton – another event after labour day – and Bob is a grandpa!!! Graeme Murry THANK YOU to Bob for golf tourney, not for profit organization – same opportunities he has a youth to get into sports – be successful in whatever they choose to be.
Rustix Furniture – Stanley Marshall – Promote business, no real events – store is mainly to promote myself and what I do – have other artists that contribute to the store – multiple artists– summer retail, looking forward to it
Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre – Jordan – Rebranded! – Exciting year for us – signage changes around Town etc. 150 years of Wanonah 1 – 100 mile cruise – antique boats, crazy day, port carling spring bridge etc. Grace and Speed 10 year anniversary – family friendly exibit theme, science theme, life in and around the water – relates to everyone in Muskoka – two fam tours everyone is welcome to attend May 27th 11:30-12:30, June 4th 12-1pm – pirates, star wars, frozen cruises for kids
Economic Development Renato Romanin – TOG – Thank you to Danielle – DTR concluded, revitalization does not stop, never ending, taking that and carrying on. Rebranding in place, banners, wayfinding signage etc. Great celebration last Friday with clock tower, awakening of our downtown is happening – community improvement program still continuing – last intake concluded – applications being review – $55,000+ to give – encourage you to think about partnerships and marketing programs – from a downtown perspective – these ideas to bring people downtown shopping
Sunshine 89.1 –Martha Gillan – Bayshore Broadcasing – work collaboratively with everyone to create promotions – both online and on the air – May 8th fundraiser, country western theme.
Gauthier Development Group – Mary Gauthier – Passionate of Muskoka and Gravenhurst – share with each other – Town councilors out to see what happens behind the scenes – big commercial opportunities down at the Wharf – based on airport opportunity – in business, how do we get them to see what’s all around Town – transportation, coming from Airport – fly in then get them somewhere – Boats, Planes and Automobiles – lots happening – happy to be at this meeting – have to get back to the Government and let them know we need more money towards us
Residence Inn by Marriott Gravenhurst Muskoka – Jon Massey – He wears many hats – summer ahead – things good on our end – exchange rate – more US visitors – hotel pace is up year after year – going along with is –in partnership with Chamber, during Car Show will be doing a Car Wash as a part of Father’s Day weekend – Children’s Miracle Network
Snowcrest Riders – John Massey – thank you to the members and business partners – trying winter – appreciate partnership – AGM first Sat in June at the Marriott – Golf tourney as well at Taboo – June 9th – attending the snowmobile show this October, more involvement with Chamber businesses
Muskoka Wharf Association –Jon Massey – – Ontario Tourism – suggest as a Team we sit down and talk about what we want to do as a Tourism Destination 150th birthday– work with whoever we can – Gravenhurst event – 7th year
Bethune House – Scott Davidson– Would like to work together as well for 150 birthday next year – work at the birthplace of a hero – Canadian that made its reputation with a social conscience – 40th Anniversary of the Bethune House – last year was a huge year for them over 13,000 visitors – all parks Canada sites will have Free Admission in 2017 for birthday – big year – new exhibits – outdoor play area for kids – biggest market is GTA, Chinese decent, 30-40 somethings above average families – Fall is crazy time for them – delegations that come with Government, wealthy Chinese families staying for months driving around Canada etc. – Visiting friends and relatives, students etc. Canadian’s working on health care are new market – rent space for meetings and that kind of things too. Offering private guided tours – staff fluent in Mandarin – Book fam tour open house.
KOA – Paul Cook – 20,000 adults who come to KOA camping each season – also has a great Golf Course – Par 3
Peter’s Players – Peter Swanek- Starting 9th season – Summer line up ready to go – big names coming – two cruises in the year, spring and fall, purchasing parking across the road – airport market is perfect for him – potential to fly in to Muskoka then send back out – work on the edge, creates exciting business
Rosseau Arts and Culture Project – Vince Gritani – Muskoka Theatre Project – Incredible Film Festival – couldn’t book anything, no accommodation, Rosseau was just too far to come up for a day – made decision to get the hell out of Rosseau, wanted to come to Gravenhurst, has accommodations and businesses etc. – moving into the fall, Fall for Muskoka initiative – Destination Rosseau through Celebrate Ontario – focus on bus tours – want to get back into the bus tours, can’t do it in Rosseau, Film Festival at Opera House – has potential to be something huge with the word ‘Muskoka’, giving up Muskoka Theatre Project, wants Opera House to take it over – don’t know about Celebrate Grants yet, puts hold on everything – Put Muskoka back on Northern Ontario status Petition – benefits on all levels for this
Muskoka Wharf Marine – Muskoka Wharf Association – Greg DeMarco – Boat rentals, adventure tours, expanding into electric scooters, atv and side by side tours, start collaborating with other businesses, controls all docks at the Wharf – Muskoka Wharf Association – not just about creating a better wharf, but collaborating with other organizations to become more of a community together for Gravenhurst – important we don’t run our businesses separately
Muskoka Rose B&B – Elaine Rodaro & David Rose – first year of operation, next to no reservations, now almost a third full, Town’s been helpful to us, different than regular B&B, separate house, space for meetings, yoga, cooking demonstrations, waterside events etc. Marketing person, brought business here, first year has been really important in learning about Muskoka – most of the time, extremely excited to be here and partnering with the group, drop in and say hello to them, wants to create pacakges
Hutchings Marine Products/Boating Ontario – Judy Semple – distributor, not tourism oriented, but offer in the background, keeping that boater on the water – Boating Ontario Association, jumped on board with what’s happening with Tourism, want to ensure we supply boaters to access to water, hoping to get tourism to know how much the boating industry applies to the economy . Recently attended the GTA of the Strategic Framework in Tourism Discussion. Recommends that people attend April 21st event. Janet Bauer Chief Executive Officer of Boating Ontario Association will be present at this meeting on the 21st as well.To learn more about what Boating Ontario is all about, please visit their website. Boating Ontario is the largest recreational marine trade association in Canada. It’s members are provided with critical and regulatory support, information, advice and direction; and practical, money saving programs for all aspects of their business
Muskoka Information Radio –Gord Kidder- Been in business for 4 years now, designed to inform people here about tourism, events, weather etc. Reach about 35,000 people in Muskoka – open to helping promote your businesses or events, please contact them – 102.3FM – Community and tourism information
Oar & Paddle, Carey’s, North Catering –Robbie Irvine – Gravenhurst is so awesome – been in business for 10 years – just doing such a great job, and are the envy to other Towns – personal clap for each other – work in partnership with the Steamships, Marriott and private jets at the airports – exposure to client base in Muskoka – Catering is huge and business is up – value of our dollar is a good thing for Muskoka – already booked into 2017. More and more film crews coming in, word is out about Muskoka that we can provide all services we need to. Already established contracts with Peter’s Players for free food for bands etc. mention on website, work with Opera house and extended that same offer to any groups that come in for Free, need to keep complimenting the businesses who work really hard to do the same thing – LIVE music three nights a week at both restaurants – has not gone unnoticed – slipping some $ to help them get through the winter, partnerships are really working – airport expansion is very interesting and will support that going ahead. Always looking for more partnerships – working with B&B’s to recommend them as a restaurant.
Social Media Consultant – Bryan White – Opera House, Megan’s Walk, Friday May 27th, RAC department Music on the Barge Sunday nights, BIA Fashion Show, dinner theatre at Opera House, dinner by Riverwalk, Vacation Time Real Estate, monthly promotions, looking to partnering, like and share promotion, Muskoka Concert Association at Opera House, Get onto social media? Live on FB – please contact me for help.
Blue Willow Tea Shop – Best High Tea Service recognized in UK Magazine – Muskoka Wharf Association integral part. Hosting annual Mother’s Day Brunch reserve today.
Meeting Follow Up’s –
- Begin Canada 150th Planning ASAP
- Share, attend and comment regarding airport expansion
- Review upcoming Tourism meetings
- Gravenhurst Arts and Culture Page on FB – go and post and share details on cultural events
- Consider committee to coordinate Winter Tourism Marketing Campaign