Cool Little Towns ramping up season
Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017 10:58 am
A tourism initiative that puts the spotlight on Foothills attractions is switching into high gear this season.
After a successful season with a more than 200 per cent increase in Twitter followers and 100 per cent increase in Facebook likes last year over 2015, the eight municipalities involved in the marketing partnership Cool Little Towns are preparing to ramp up the driving tours, website and social media presence this coming season.
The partners are Bragg Creek, Black Diamond, High River, Longview, MD of Foothills, Okotoks, Nanton and Turner Valley.
“Anecdotally, our businesses have reported significant increases in traffic as a result of various marketing campaigns operated through Cool Little Towns,” said Monique LeBlanc, Turner Valley community services and business development manager. “In the past we definitely had some interest and some awareness, but in 2016 we definitely saw a lot more talk about it and awareness.”
Last year, Cool Little Towns featured four themed driving tours that highlighted shops, restaurants and attractions in the Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Longview areas.
The tours were featured on the Cool Little Towns website and six bloggers wrote about their experiences with a following of more than 20,000 viewers.
Building on last year’s momentum, six more tours have been developed with stops in all eight communities and more bloggers will be commissioned to share their experiences this season, said LeBlanc.
“It’s still in the development stages but we hope that we can expand it,” she said. “Several of the bloggers said they plan on conducting the tours in 2017 and they would expand that likely through the region.”
In addition to featuring these changes on the website, promotions of Cool Little Towns will continue with the distribution of an updated brochure throughout Alberta, British Columbia and Montana.
LeBlanc said 10,000 brochures were distributed last season.
The website will also be updated regularly as the season progresses, said LeBlanc.
It already features details of this season’s 10 new driving tours complete with maps, a synopsis of what they entail and a description of the tours, as well as specific information about each of the eight partnering communities.
The partners are currently working on the marketing plan and budget for the 2017 season.
“We have to determine what is our actual budget before we can move forward and apply for funding,” said Alex Ross, Okotoks economic development specialist and lead for Cool Little Towns.
Ross said funding comes from a combination of the annual $3,000 participation fee from each municipality - half of that for Longview - and Alberta Tourism.
“It’s really not a whole lot for an entire year, but we can really maximize those dollars,” she said.
The funds cover such costs as website development, brochure production and promotional materials. In addition, educational workshops will be held in each community to bring more awareness of Cool Little Towns to businesses, said Ross.
“It’s a great success already and we are hoping we can increase that this year with having more of a presence in a functioning website,” she said. “We are also, at the same time, educating our business community and community at large about Cool Little Towns and the opportunities that it presents. The main purpose of this partnership is to market the region and our individual talents.”