April 24, 2013, marked a major milestone for tourism in the Similkameen Valley. Over 40 stakeholders gathered in Princeton to celebrate the launch of the new destination brand and consumer website similkameenvalley.com. The branding project is a pilot project done in partnership between the Similkameen Valley Planning Society (SVPS) and the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) demonstrating best practice in marketing communications. The Similkameen Valley is the first in the region to utilize the framework of the Thompson Okanagan Regional Strategy, a first of its kind in B.C.
TOTA’s community development specialist Simone Carlysle-Smith led a collaborative effort working with SVPS’ Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) led by chair Joan McMurray. McMurray comments, “We value the expertise of the project team who understand who we are as visitor destination. This partnership allowed us to deliver a strong foundation for the Similkameen Valley to build our marketing message.”
The Similkameen Valley includes the communities and hamlets of Cathedral Lakes, Cawston, Chopaka, Coalmont, Eastgate, Hedley, Keremeos, Manning Park, Olalla, Princeton, Tulameen and Twin Lakes.
Elements of the marketing plan include: a striking destination brand with a logo, tag line, positioning statement, retractable banners, window clings, postcards, golf shirts and presentation folders bolstered by professional imagery and an online storage system.
There are great stories about things to experience in the region, an inventory of unique features, online resources and communications for local industry and a key feature in today’s tourist environment: responsive design website.
Responsive design uses one URL to serve the needs of multiple devices ensuring users can view information appropriately on any device whether it is a smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
Manfred Bauer, SVPS Chair comments, “With the right partnerships we have created a world-class project; it has exceeded our expectations.”
Behind the website and the technology the principles for the development of the brand, imagery and copy are based on the Thompson Okanagan Regional Strategy and the Canadian Tourism Commission’s Explorer Quotient (EQ) program.
The regional strategy is based on a better understanding of traveller values and building local capacity to serve those values while aligning marketing to connect with the visitor across the entire region.
The EQ program is an innovative market segmentation tool based on the science of psychographics – an evolution of the traditional field of demographics. Instead of defining people based on age, income, gender, family status or education level, psychographics look at a person’s personal beliefs, social values and their view of the world.
TOTA’s CEO Glenn Mandziuk says this project will take the Similkameen Valley message to a level not seen before. “This launch does a fantastic job of integrating the principles of TOTA’s regional strategy, the Explorer Quotient experience developed by the CTC and the great opportunities for visitors to the Similkameen Valley.”
Destination BC helped to fund some of the key projects identified in the SVPS tourism plan, through both its Community Tourism Foundations and Community Tourism Opportunities programs.
The project team included Simone Carlysle-Smith, Project Lead; Joan McMurray SVPS TAC Chair; Roger Handling Creative Director; Kim Cameron EQ Writer, Darren Robinson EQ Photographer; Scott Baker, Webmaster and Kim Lawton, SVPS Project Manager.