October 28, 2010
(QUESNEL) The Billy Barker Casino and Hotel is hopping and we’re not talking about the slot machines or the roulette wheel here. There are over 30 people here in the lower ballroom who have come to put their collective heads together to find a way to reinvigorate the Gold Rush Trails marketing brand.
And what a crowd it is – we have folks from the rafting, hotel, heritage attraction and resort industries. We got representatives from the Regional Destination Marketing Organizations, civic and provincial government and heritage associations. We have folks from Hope to Barkerville and beyond at this Gold Rush Trails Marketing Focus Session.
The conference is a joint-initiative by the Heritage Tourism Alliance of B.C., Aboriginal Tourism B.C. and the New Pathways to Gold Society. We’re all here to compare notes and devise a strategy. It’s a high-stakes game, but the odds are in our favour.
All eyes are up front as facilitator Trevor Kier of Kier and Associates gives a detailed background of past efforts to promote the Gold Rush Trails (GRT) experience. Some great things were done. But, as Kier describes, despite its strategically advantageous location as a key travel corridor and its abundance of heritage and adventure tourism product, the corridor lost market share due to highway expansions and improvements elsewhere, increased competition and limited marketing resources.
Kier spells out how past efforts to promote the GRT experience saw tourism stakeholders across the corridor work together, first as an Alliance and then as a marketing and development Cooperative, to revitalize the GRT as a key travel corridor and attraction. Ultimately, these efforts failed largely because of an inability to attain some measure of sustainability.
A general discussion of the challenges the corridor faces in revitalizing the GRT brand is followed by a break-out session where smaller groups brain-storm ideas on how to reinvigorate the promotion of the GRTs. There are lots of ideas and a keen interest in the need for a reinvigorated GRTs marketing strategy. The people in my focus group think its worth doing – the timing seems right, the will seems to be there and it’s much needed.
There’s a lot of support for thinking big and giving the strategy a WOW factor. When we reconvene as a group, there’s a positive consensus from most participants to move forward with further discussions. Exactly what that should look like, how it should be lead and how to ensure sustainability in the process and execution remains to be determined. But it’s a good start.
The HTA and NPTGS are considering participants’ input, Kier’s comments on the session and there will be further consultations aimed at moving the initiative forward. You can bet on it.