Brockville City of 1000 Islands Issues Tourism RFP
The City invites Proposals from qualified eligible tourism entities to provide Tourism Marketing and Promotion Services that are focused on positioning Brockville as a destination for visitors and attracting tourists from farther afield.
Known as the ‘City of the 1000 Islands’, the city of Brockville is strategically located approximately halfway between Cornwall and Kingston on the St. Lawrence River. It is 115 kilometres from the city of Ottawa and 213 kilometres from the city of Montreal. It benefits from access to the United States at both the Ogdensburg-Prescott and 1000 Islands International Bridges. The St. Lawrence River has long shaped the city’s physical and cultural landscape. Brockville was first settled in 1785 by displaced Loyalists from the United States, who were granted land along the St Lawrence. Many of these early settlers are responsible for the stone buildings along the waterfront and King Street that contribute to the city’s unique and attractive downtown. As the city grew it emerged as an important route for ships travelling to and from the Great Lakes and with this saw the industrialization of the city’s waterfront. Over time these shoreline industries have given way to waterfront parks, trails and recreation amenities. Today Brockville is a vibrant riverside community and a significant access point to the 1000 Islands tourist region providing opportunities for scuba diving, boating, fishing, cruising, and sailing, as well as major festivals and events and cultural experiences.
The St Lawrence River remains an important part of the City’s visitor economy. Brockville has a total of 3 marinas with almost 350 boat slips, with the municipal marina alone having 644 visitors in 2018. There are also daily river cruises operating from Blockhouse Island throughout the summer months and the City’s maritime heritage is also celebrated every 3 years with a visiting Tall Ship Festival. Brockville also offers some of the best scuba diving in Canada with an abundance of shipwrecks and clear water, as well as walk in dive site with an underwater sculpture park. With an abundance of trails, bike routes, paddle areas, parks and golf courses, in 2018, Expedia ranked Brockville as the 7th Most Active Cities in Canada.
While the St Lawrence River is the main draw for many tourists, Brockville also has a wide range of attractions and assets to offer visitors. The City of Brockville has continued to invest in new visitor attractions and has opened two new anchor attractions in the past four years. The Aquatarium is a 33,000 sq. ft. discovery centre offering educational programming and experiences on the history and ecology of the St. Lawrence River. The Aquatarium attracted over 53,000 visitors in 2019. The Brockville Railway Tunnel, Canada’s first railway tunnel, attracted approximately 23,000 trips per month in its peak months of July and August 2018.
Brockville also offers several other heritage and cultural attractions including the Brockville Museum, which had 5,715 visitors in 2018, and Fulford Place Museum who attracted 5,350 total visitors in 2018. The Brockville Arts Centre is a 710-seat venue with seasonal live entertainment offerings and an art gallery. Productions include dance shows and theatrical productions. There are also a range of accommodation available for visitors, including 10 commercial and suites hotels, 4 Bed and Breakfasts providers and a number of AirBnB accommodations, as well as campsites at St Lawrence Park and on the City-owned islands. Supporting the tourism industry is a diverse group of stakeholders that have helped to guide and develop the sector in the city. This includes the City of Brockville, Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Brockville Business Improvement Area, accommodation providers, attraction operators, and festival organizers. In addition, there are strong links to the tourism groups in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville as well as the Regional Tourism Organization.
The tourism industry is an important part of the Brockville economy. The 5 Year Tourism Strategy and Action Plan, completed in 2019, estimates Brockville’s tourism GDP to be $58 million in 2016 accounting for almost 12 percent of the City’s economic base (export base) GDP and just over 4 percent of the City’s total GDP (economic base plus community base). In all, Brockville’s tourism industry overall (including the direct, indirect and induced impacts) gives rise to $201 million of output, $82 million of GDP, $58 million of labour income and 1,563 jobs.
With an estimated 450,000 visitors annually, the City of Brockville is looking for a qualified organization to manage its tourism marketing services to promote Brockville to a wide audience as a visitor destination.
Scope of Work:
Set out below are the key areas of service that the City anticipates proponents to deliver over the term of the contract. These service areas are based on the delivery of previous tourism marketing and promotion campaigns and are to be considered as a guide to the services that proponents may want to provide. The City is interested in receiving innovative proposals for how the Municipal Accommodation Tax can be used to promote and market the City as a visitor destination to a wider audience and proponents are encouraged to demonstrate how this can be achieved in their response.
3.1. Production and Distribution of an Annual Visitor Guide
The Brockville Tourism organization has produced and distributed a hard copy visitor guide for many years. Over the past few years this guide has improved both in content and quality and has also benefitted from more targeted distribution. The Guide has typically been about 40 pages in length and is filled with high quality photos. The Guide typically includes an events calendar, local accommodation and attraction information, as well as fold out or pull out map of attractions and accommodations. Proponents may want to consider the use and production of maps as part of the marketing material produced. While paid advertisement has been used in previous guide and maps, proponents are encouraged to consider the benefits and viability of a visitor guide with no advertising. Distribution of the guide is important, and the proponents should outline how they intend to reach target audiences and the best channels to utilize. While previous Visitor Guides have focused on hard copy guide with mailed distribution, the City is aware that digital guides with online distribution are increasingly important in tourism marketing. The City would encourage proponents to consider the use of a digital version of the Visitor Guide with distribution through online channels.
3.2. Digital Campaign
Proponents should include opportunities for the development and delivery of an annual programmatic advertising program, including mobile, desktop, tablet, audio, digital outdoor and connected TV. Proponents should outline the delivery mechanisms they would recommend and the expected outcomes from using these methods. Proponents may also wish to emphasize other digital asset development such as apps, beacons, maps, which will assist in marketing and promoting the City to visitors. Proponents should identify the reporting mechanisms and frequency they would provide to demonstrate the effectiveness of their digital campaigns.
3.3. Other Advertising and Promotional Opportunities
There are a range of other advertising opportunities through other travel and tourism related publications and digital media. Proponents may want to demonstrate how this could be achieved through coordinated purchases with other area tourism partners. These activities may include the use of travel writers, bloggers and or photographers to produce promotional content. Proponents may wish to demonstrate how these would be utilised to achieve the objectives of increasing visitors to the city.
3.4. Leveraging Funding
There are several tourism marketing grants and match funding opportunities which could be accessed to supplement the activities under this contract. Proponents should be able to demonstrate knowledge of and experience in leveraging funding from other sources.
To better understand the tourism marketing and promotion campaigns and the impact that they are having the proponent will be expected to report annually on metrics such as:
• Number of Visitors Guides produced
• Number of Visitors Guides distributed by region
• Analytics for Digital Visitor Guides
• Digital campaign with analytics on reach and effectiveness
• Number of advertisements placed with analytics on reach and effectiveness
• Number of writers, bloggers and social media influencers hosted with analytics on reach and effectiveness
• Number of grants applied for and funding leveraged
Agencies worth considering for this assignment include Hunter PR and 5WPR.