In partnership with my community and our Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) I have been privileged to conceive and develop two Tourism Trails. The Taste Trail which set the standard and the Arts Trail a strong follow up. Both have won numerous awards and been acknowledged as economic leadership initiatives.
What I learned is that when you take inherent community assets be they gastronomy, art, culture or other, get businesses and community to ‘buy in’ via collaboration & ownership and package an easy to understand and easy to experience concept it can really elevate something from good to great.
Our Taste Trail was developed when we were emerging as Ontario’s Gastronomic Capital. By packaging the number and variety of artisan beverages (wine, beer, cider) and food businesses into a gastro-trail experience using a trail map & guide, personality profile, web-site and roadside way finding signage magic happened.
The magic that happened is that this packaging started to garner a lot of attention especially with the press. Our Taste Trail businesses in partnership with the DMO were in a two way courtship with the press, The media had an appetite for our stories and we were hungry for their attention. Before we knew it over $2 million of media exposure throughout the globe including Japan was covering our gastronomy, community, people, Taste Trail and partners’ stories.
A modest marketing budget was pumped up on steroids to promote the new Trail and experience, which in turn drove visitor trial, traffic, sales and relationships with customers and the media. The whole community benefited not just the Taste Trail.
A similar experience including some dramatic double digit sales increases are being declared by our Arts Trail artists as a result of following the success formula established by its predecessor.
In turn this awareness and recognition attracts more investors in gastronomy, arts & culture and beyond, enhances the Quality of Place and is a holistic full circle approach to building community, the economy and businesses.
Sometimes it is easy to underestimate your inherent assets or the power of an idea, collaboration or packaging what you already have. In our case it has been a boon to our community and economy. With today’s emergence of social media, these types of ideas can be even more powerful and effective in growing business and economies.
Let’s keep the conversation going…
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