Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) is a collaboration between the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the four Atlantic Canada Tourism Industry Associations, and the four Provincial Departments responsible for tourism. These organizations combine efforts and budgets to build a strong voice for tourism in Atlantic Canada to the Northeastern region of the United States.
Their mission is simple: Grow the tourism industry in Atlantic Canada, which, today represents $4.89 billion annually and 57,000 full-time jobs.
As ACAT’s long-term Agency of Record, Time & Space Media had been tasked to build strategic marketing and media plans to entice Americans, specifically those in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, to visit Atlantic Canada.
The campaigns largely targeted the “Authentic Experiencer”, which has an age range starting at 35 years old. The most responsive and active segment of this group has been 55+ years old, married with no children at home, highly educated, and wealthy. They use the internet for travel plans and enjoy cultural pursuits while vacationing. Although this audience segment had resulted in heavy visitation from the United States, the ACAT partners acknowledged that evolving their approach to entice this group and their younger counterparts at all stages of the decision journey.
Time & Space developed a strategy to meet the needs of ACAT, as well as the respective tourism boards, with the common goal to increase visitation to Atlantic Canada.
To accomplish this, our team developed a plan to leverage technology with the first digital-only campaign. We developed a strategy to reach consumers with sequential storytelling that follows them across multiple sites and digital environments via programmatic investments in both display and video assets.
We also wanted to engage the potential visitor, moving beyond awareness to leverage emotional connections through custom built content in trusted environments within key markets. Content was developed with partnership of Conde Nast / New York Times & the Boston Globe, connecting their affluent audience base with the compelling value proposition of each Atlantic Canadian province.
Our team developed strategies to help the ACAT partnership meet their target audience at all stages of the decision journey. Several strategic influencer placements brought highly-influential creators from both Boston and New York to visit Atlantic Canada.
This approach helped spotlight the beauty of the region. We put influencers such as Jen Balisi and Abby Capalbo in New Brunswick to capture the character and cuisine of the province. We sent Ryan Millier to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Fogo Island, directing him to experience and showcase the beauty of scenery like icebergs on the coast of the province. That series of posts generated more than 81,126 organic engagements and a stunning 5.9% engagement rate (engagements/influencer following), with the top piece of content receiving a 14.2% engagement rate off organic reach alone.
JQ Louise and Zach Houghton visited Prince Edward Island to share their snapshots of the quintessential attractions like the city of Charlottetown, the famous Anne of Green Gables museum, and the charming island coastline.
The Boston Globe features were also a resounding success. Over 300 seconds were spent on “Island Hopping in New Brunswick”, while “Whales, birds, and icebergs: Nature like you’ve never seen it in Newfoundland and Labrador” drove 81% more page views than the benchmarked target. Thousands of visitors spent an average of four minutes lingering over “If you’re craving adventure, head for Nova Scotia and don’t look back”, and the piece focused on Prince Edward Island’s culture, “Culture comes alive on Prince Edward Island” had a click through rate 35% higher than the Globe’s benchmark.
Our performance analysis highlighted our ability to reach the targeted audience segments for each of the provinces, but also underscored our respective assumptions that a digital-only campaign is anything but restrictive.
Results indicate that the Authentic Experiencer group showed a total of 176,641 total engagements (Organic & Paid Supported), affirming a true interest in traveling to Atlantic Canada.
These results have helped to rapidly evolve the approach of the ACAT program.