This microsite by Archer Communications works with VisitRochester to promote the region in southern Ontario. The annual campaign also consists of an insert in the Toronto Star, radio advertising and internet marketing.
Bienvenue! The Finger Lakes region is marketed well in Canada
By Lisa Tremblay Burns | Livingston County Tourism
To advertise on one billboard for one month near Toronto on the QEW expressway the cost is approximately $70,000.
I know because within the past week I’ve checked. I’ve also checked before, more than once as a matter of fact, and the reason isn’t because I thought we, the Livingston County Tourism office, could afford such a grand advertising outlet.
I priced the cost because Livingston County News Editor Mark Gillespie has, more than once (okay, a lot) brought to my attention the fact that states like Pennsylvania and Michigan do buy billboard space in that market and has asked, “So why doesn’t New York State?”
I’ve had various answers for Mark over the years, most of them having to do with budget issues; however, there has been a major shift recently in the marketing efforts of New York State both in Canada and throughout the United States that makes Mark’s recent editorial very timely for response.
No doubt there have been some financial challenges in recent years in the Empire State and the tourism industry has felt our fair share of cuts. The much relied upon matching funds program was eliminated in 2010 due to the economic downturn.
The state’s overall tourism marketing efforts also waned. While matching funds were restored in 2011, the impact of the lack of funds in 2010 did prove to affect the overall health of tourism for our state. Both the U.S. and Canada simply did not see our iconic “I LOVE NY” logo and as we all know, ‘out of sight, out of mind.’
Now, a renewed investment by the State in tourism marketing and a focus on rejuvenating the “I Love NY” brand is taking place. Efforts by the state have included hiring a New York City PR firm to manage a statewide PR program, the launch of a new TV ad campaign, plans to redesign the “I Love NY” website and specific to Canada, the state Division of Tourism along with state and regional partners conducted a Canada Travel Trade and Media road show to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in early June.
Locally, Livingston County along with 12 other counties in the Finger Lakes pools funds for a regional PR program that is now in its third year. The region hired Quinn & Co., a top PR firm headquartered in Manhattan, to help gain national attention for the vacation region. A key component of the Finger Lakes PR plan is a focus on the Canadian market. One very effective tactic employed to reach this market are desk side visits with top-tier Canadian travel journalists. A media trip to Toronto/Hamilton took place in the fall of 2011 and a return visit is planned for fall 2012. Yours truly will gladly be part of the delegation.
The Canadian visitor is being actively pursued by Livingston County, the Finger Lakes Region and the state of New York. I know because it’s my business to know. Conversely, I also know that perhaps the general public may not know that these things are happening so I thank Mark for writing his recent editorial and offering me the opportunity to respond.
This exercise has also given me the opportunity to reach out to my tourism partners, both in the state and locally to ask the question, “How’s your Canadian business?” Overwhelmingly, I was told that Canadian visitation is up. Our own Letchworth State Park and our premier festival, the Geneseo Air Show can show respectable percentages of visitors from Canada.
Bienvenue Canadian friends, please keep coming and Mark, keep spreading the good word! Much appreciated.
Lisa Tremblay Burns is Director of the Livingston County Tourism Office. Learn more about events and opportunities for visitors at fingerlakeswest.com.