Destination Ontario wants to inspire European wanderlust

Instead of expats returning to Germany and the U.K., the tourist board wants friends and family to reunite here.

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Destination Ontario is showcasing the breadth and depth of the province’s outdoor and urban experiences as it reaches out to British and German travellers.

In one iteration of its “Discover Together” campaign, British expat Roberta, who has not seen her family in four years, is video chatting with them, relaying all the things the province has to offer as they plan to reunite, and includes visuals of Killarney Provincial Park, the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, the Niagara Region and other destinations.

“The intention was to invite reconnecting travellers to explore the possibilities of a trip to Ontario by making it easy to imagine moments together,” says Lydia Devereaux, corporate communications manager with Destination Ontario, a provincial agency with a mission to position Ontario as a preferred global destination.

Devereaux says visiting friends and relatives is projected to be a first-mover market and reconnecting has become a priority for many people, especially in places like Germany and the U.K., among the first jurisdictions to be able to travel freely again. The goal for the campaign is to get expats to, instead of going back to their home country for the reconnection, invite their loved ones to come to them.

FCB Canada, Destination Ontario’s creative agency of record since 2012, developed the digital and social-led campaign to target these two priority markets to ensure the province was top-of-mind for leisure travel as lockdowns continue to ease. It’s the first time Destination Ontario has launched a dedicated multi-market campaign in both the U.K. and Germany targeted to the “visiting friends and relatives” and “high value traveler” audiences.
“We focused on a media mix that fostered online sharing and drove high content engagement so that Ontario could become part of the conversations our intended travellers are having with their friends and family,” Devereaux says. The agility of the media mix, she adds, allows the organization to pivot quickly if international travel restrictions necessitate a change.
Devereaux tells strategy that, timing-wise, competition for the global traveler will be fierce as destinations vie for consumers to visit. International travel has traditionally had a longer path to purchase than short-haul getaways, so it is important to build awareness in these markets now.

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The paid media campaign is in-market until Dec. 5 and will be amplified through to March. The aim is to get travelers thinking about Ontario as a destination for their next international trip, and the goal would be to drive visitation for spring and summer 2022.

Destination Ontario is also developing a province-specific content series with British newspaper The Guardian, which takes a deep dive into the lives of expats who love Ontario, and which will come to life through immersive digital articles and original photography.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, the travel sector has been hit hard, resulting in $19 billion in losses in 2020 alone. The sector, one of the most important to the local economy, annually contributes $36 billion to provincial GDP.

Creative for the campaign was handled by FCB, media-buying and planning was handled by Initiative, production company was Film Forge, with post-production handled by Rooster Post-Production, Fort York VFX, Alter Ego, and Audio by Eggplant.