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Business Tips

How to Attract Experience-driven, Self-propelled Travellers… and Come Away Delighted

No point in reinventing the wheel. There are success stories in a special few corners of the world—some not far from home. The ‘not far from home’ part is key because it means that many travellers are somewhat familiar with programs and accommodation offers that cater to their needs. They don’t have to be trained of what to search for and how to adapt. All they need is to find how you can accommodate their needs and interests in their experiences, in your fabulous countryside.

The Opportunity:

Elsewhere, the Ontario countryside is generally flat or gently rolling. Elsewhere, cyclists cruise roads that run straight, paddlers find that lakes and large wetlands are few and far between, and hiking is confined to small local parks.

Here, tourism has quite different opportunities—and challenges—than elsewhere in southern Ontario. This is a landscape on and rimming the Canadian Shield. Here is a landscape most expect in northern Ontario, with rugged granite cliffs and lake-jewelled valleys, and roads winding around rivers and wetlands. Communities are delightfully rural and fields are pastoral, not industrial.

We have a natural capital rich beyond measure. Our countryside is just 25% developed into communities and farms. Our rich forests cover 45% of the land, and 30% is crystal clear lakes, rivers and rich wetlands. We have cultural capital that others envy. There are more artists per capita here than anywhere in Ontario, and history that speaks of every era of the Canadian story. Yet, we are a six hour drive of more than half the population of Canada. The Canadian Tourism Commission states that 40% of tourism in Canada takes place in the triangle of Toronto/Niagara, Ottawa and Montreal. We are in the exact centre of that triangle, offering a truly authentic, quintessential Canadian experience.

The Statistics:

Surveys by the Great Waterway show 85% of visitors to this region expect authentic experiences with history, culture and nature - on-site and outdoors - and exceeding activities such as golf, night clubs and theatre. These travellers are both self-driven (cars, RVs) and self-propelled (hiking, cycling, paddling, touring) – all motivated towards experiences. Accommodations and hospitality focused on traditional vehicle traffic miss this very large market. RTO9’s survey work is backed by an even larger market survey conducted through Environics Analytics. And, the Canadian Tourism Commission’s research shows one third of all tourists are authentic, cultural and free spirit explorers: they seek the experiences our region has in abundance. Travellers readily identify this region as an experience-based destination.

This region to become a leading experiential destination region of Canada, And now is the time to become involved. Many trails organizations are investing in projects. Trails groups and mapping, cultural mapping and sign projects are celebrating our sense of place. Websites for trails and experiences are heavily visited, and users are world-wide.

The Self-propelled Traveller Experience: 

Accommodations are not the travellers destinations… but they can be portals to experience. The experiences, the true destination, are the very same places locals treasure and that give them a sense of place. These places are seldom the big attractions or one-time festivals, nor the malls, golf course and draws that are the backbone of traditional tourism marketing. The destination sought by 1 in 3 travellers, worldwide, is what locals themselves value. It’s your landscape, your history, your tastes from farms, your art and theatre, your views and vistas, your local hangouts, and the walking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, cycling routs and trails that lead you to your amazing places.

Accommodations businesses have been very proactive in promotion and marketing of themselves. Yet, experience-driven travellers look at your countryside first, and then for accommodations and hospitality that provide for their needs.


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