County needs marketing strategy: consultant 0
The Haliburton Highlands need a marketing strategy.
This was one of the conclusions from a report by consultant Jim Blake based on a tourism town hall meeting he conducted at the Haliburton Legion on May 7.
Blake presented his final draft report to members of Haliburton County’s tourism development committee at an Aug. 8 meeting.
“There’s no document that says, ‘this is our marketing strategy,’” Blake told councillors. “Most of the components are there, it’s just a matter of sitting down and creating it.”
Also, Blake said stakeholders need to better organize themselves.
“Haliburton County does not have a stakeholder group . . . an organized stakeholder group,” Blake said, adding that while individual stakeholders and committees do communicate with the county, there is no formal group that speaks on behalf of all stakeholders.
The town hall meeting in the spring had 65 participants who provided input on how the county should go about marketing itself and evaluated the effectiveness of tools such as the visitors’ information centre, the county website and destination guide, social media and consumer shows.
A solid destination brand and a better website were a couple messages that came from that meeting and Blake had presented preliminary findings to committee members at a June meeting.
Some of the recommendations from the meeting have already been given to the subcommittee working on new websites for the county and to Parker Pad & Printing, which is creating the 2013 destination guide.
“They felt strongly there needed to be a tourism information centre,” Blake said, adding that some felt an upgraded centre would be of use.
“I think the exercise was a good one,” said Minden Hills Reeve Barb Reid, adding that it validated some of the methods the county uses to promote the Haliburton Highlands.
Her colleagues – the committee consists of the four reeves – agreed the process had been a worthwhile one.
However, Reid didn’t find value in expanding the visitors’ centre, stressing that what the county needs to do is get behind a digital marketing strategy aimed squarely at its target audience.
“Advertise the county to people in the GTA who can come up here,” she said, calling for the county to hire an agency and decide on a plan. “We need to get out of talking to ourselves.”
Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey agreed that an enhanced visitors’ centre would do nothing to actually bring people to the area.
“You’re already here then,” he said. “That’s not going to get them to the county.”
“We’ve already known for a long time what we need to do,” said Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt.
Blake, who was paid $5,000 by the county to conduct the meeting and provide followup, will be finalizing his 30-page report.