Archive for December, 2013

RTO4 SABBA and SAHMA join forces

Conroy Schelhaas, President of the Stratford and Area Hotel and Motel Association (SAHMA) and Murray Sanderson, President of the Stratford Area Bed a Breakfast Association (SABBA) joined a newly formed RTO Stratford Accommodations Advisory Committee (yet another acronym gets minted SAAC).

The goal of the committee is to create better alignment between these two key groups (as well as Stratford accommodators in general) with the stated objective of assisting the RTO to create projects and programs that directly influence the uptake of Stratford accommodations in a manner that benefits operators and creates a solid platform for sustained growth.

This is an important milestone in the growing integration of accommodation owner operators in the regional tourism growth strategy and I applaud and welcome the input of these two respected Presidents.

The committee has convened three times since it was formed in November and over the next months will focus on developing opportunities vis-à-vis RTO programs and initiatives for Stratford accommodation stakeholders to best leverage their strengths and address their particular needs in terms of occupancy, inventory and seasonality.

If you have not talked with Murray or Conroy in a while I encourage you to reconnect and bring your perspective to the table.

David Peacock, CEO RTO4 Inc.

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RTO4 Progress Report 2012/13

As part of the business planning cycle for the Regional Tourism Office every year we draft a status brief for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and for the Minister’s office (the Honourable Michael Chan).

As we close out 2013, I would like to share a shortened version of that brief with you.

RTO4 Progress Report 2012/13 prepared for MTC&S Dec. 2013

The RTO, in concert with our regional Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO’s) and hundreds of regional tourism stakeholders over the past 2 years has created a comprehensive system based on the principle of Goal – Strategy – Measurement that is centred around a regional reservation system to track the impact of joint tourism initiatives as they affect the uptake of accommodation in the region. The stated goal was and still is to generate a 25% growth in regional sales by April 1 2015.

Key to this goal was reaching an understanding with our DMO partners that the RTO’s core business objective is to drive the sale of overnight-stays to consumers in markets 2hrs-plus from the region. This is based on the simple fact that overnight visitors spend on average four times as much as their day-trip counterparts. Likewise any marketing activity the RTO undertakes with its partners addresses this key tenant.

Initial reservation system sales have exceeded expectations. The target for the fiscal April 1 2013 to March 31 2014 was 750,000. In the period from April 1 to Sept 30th alone the system captured $1.2 million in sales (by Nov. 15th that number had grown to more than $2 million).

 RTO4 is unique in Ontario in its “unbranded” position. In the early days a conscious decision was made by the Board to use the existing brand strengths in the region and not to spend precious resources on the difficult and uncertain task of building a pan-regional brand. The RTO leverages the brand power of its key DG’s the Stratford Festival, Drayton Theatres and the towns of Elora, St. Jacobs, Stratford and Bayfield as well as the Grand River and Ontario’s West Coast to cut through the marketing clutter in Ontario and capture the interest of consumers in order to convert them to overnight trippers.

 The RTO is a key tourism asset for regional stakeholders dedicated to increasing the uptake of the regions offering by Ontarians, Quebecers and our US visitors through an aggressive system of marketing and conversion and to do so in a manner that is capable of measuring the impact of regional programs and projects directly.

I’ll say it again, the industriousness, the commitment and the general goodwill of the tourism owners and operators in this region is the key to the success-to-date of this program and is what makes it a pleasure for the RTO staff to live and work in Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington.

Thanks for your on-going support and have a safe and happy holiday. 

David Peacock, CEO RTO4 Inc

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