Cranbrook Tourism full steam ahead

Cranbrook Tourism updated Council on their accomplishments and plans for future

At the City Council meeting on Monday, April 8, Kristy Jahn-Smith gave a presentation highlighting the work that Cranbrook Tourism has been doing over the past eight months ago, and what their plans are for the future.

She said that over the past eight months she has connected with many different groups of people who are touched by tourism in numerous ways, including hoteliers, hunting and fishing guides, volunteer groups and bike and snowmobile clubs. Her intent is to “stitch something that’s very fragmented together.” She hopes that by bringing together these different groups, who are successful in their own endeavours, to package and market them more cohesively.

She indicated that research from Destination BC showed that in 2016 tourism was the second highest contributor to the province’s GDP, behind only oil and gas, at about $7.9 billion. In 2017, the most recent year of data available, tourism had taken the number one spot, surpassing all natural resource sectors with a $9 billion contribution to the GDP. She said this demonstrates that tourism is on the rise around the world and certainly in B.C. as well.

She described Cranbrook Tourism as a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), whose primary activities are centred around marketing.

“We are in the business of creating demand,” she told Council, “and other providers create supply.”

She described a common idea used by marketing companies, the marketing funnel, which consists of awareness, consideration, conversion and advocacy. The idea is to move consumers upwards through the marketing funnel.

She has been working to increase awareness by hosting media here and holding media awareness activities.

The Toronto Sun visited and created an article entitled Tracking History in Cranbrook, that looked primarily at Fort Steele Heritage Town and the Cranbrook History Centre’s Rail Museum. The weather Network also visited and wrote a few different articles, including one that discussed how the Canadian Rockies International Airport is the gateway to the powder highway, opening up opportunities to skiing across B.C. The weather network also did features on the Wild Horse Cycling Club and the Ktunaxa’s creation story.

They also worked collaboratively with the city ahead of the recent Winter Blitzville event, getting press in publications like the Calgary Herald.

Cranbrook Tourism also did some consumer-based shows. Cranbrook Tourism and Kimberley-Cranbrook Golf did two shows in Calgary last month, one at the Outdoor Adventure Show and another at the Golf Show, marketing the seven courses in our area.

As an example of the consideration component of the marketing funnel, she discussed the new Cranbrook Experience Guide that is heading to print and they hope to have out in April. They also created a new website over the course of the last year that is an ongoing work in progress.

ON the website, they aim to be the source for all events in Cranbrook and make their event calendar the most cohesive and robust, where locals and tourists alike can go to one spot for all event news.

They’ve also been striving to create storytelling assets across a variety of platforms.

“So it’s really important whether it’s looking at our visitors guide, our website, anything we do really, we need the imagery we need video that can help us to tell that story in a really visually compelling way.”

As an example of this visual storytelling, she indicated the recent Cranbrook Has it All video that highlighted a variety of winter activities around town including the climbing wall, the bike trails and the Fire Hall restaurant. She showed that the video reached over 16,000 people and had 710 reactions and shares.

In a chart she shoed that the websites traffic, and the amount of time people spend on the website has increased, but she hopes to double those numbers in 2019. The Facebook group’s followers and people who have stopped in at the Visitors Centres have increased as well.

As a summary of what’s new in 2019, she listed the addition of a new staff member, a marketing coordinator, a 200 per cent increase in marketing spending, delivery of training for stakeholders, potentially creating some membership on a marketing advisory council, and then working on developing meeting, events, weddings, sports tourism business.

Doing a lot of research recently on the broader impact of tourism, one thing she came across was the halo effect of tourism marketing, which means that the activities of destination promotion has an effect and influence on a lot of other things. They influence people’s opinion on the destination as a potential place to live, start a family or a business, go to college, or retire.

“I think looking to the future working with the city of Cranbrook to make sure there’s a lot of alignment there.”

Mayor Lee Pratt said he was pleased with the work thats been done and added that it’s important she comes back in a few months with an update of what’s been accomplished.

“I think really our goal is any time we can inspire visitors,” Jahn-Smith said, “but we can increase pride amongst locals, that’s what we’re here to do and I’m really excited about that.”

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