Content Strategy Research - Regional Market

To inform the implementation of a consumer-facing content strategy in 2014, Tourism Calgary conducted focus groups with travellers in our key regional markets.  The objectives of this research were to: 

  • clarify what regional travellers are looking for in a getaway or short trip – specifically, what are the motivations and benefits of these trips, and how does Calgary compare to other regional destinations in delivering on these benefits; and 
  • better understand the path to purchase and uncover the critical moments along this path.

In February 2014, two focus groups were conducted in each of the following regional markets – Edmonton, Red Deer, Regina and Saskatoon.  Participants were the decision makers in their household for travel, had taken a minimum of three overnight leisure trips in the past two years and travel primarily within the region or a mix of regional and longer-distance travel.

This research is informing our content strategy, in particular how content (video, posts, stories) and distribution (social media,, external travel websites) can influence the regional path to purchase. Below are the insights we gathered through this research.

The Getaway or Regional Trip

The main reasons to go on a getaway trip can be categorized into two themes –

  • “going to” – events, activities, culture, nature, see friends/family, shopping deals, celebrations, etc.;  “To experience the finer things not available at home”
  • “getting away from” – their routine, work, stress, responsibilities, kids, boredom, etc.; “Being anywhere but here.”

Among these regional travellers, “going to” is the primary driver for visiting Calgary, although Calgary does also allow them to “get away from” things.  

This research revealed some demographic differences with respect to the benefits that Calgary delivers to a regional traveller –  

For younger travellers (24-34 years), Calgary delivers fun/social aspects, provides an escape, cultural experiences, outdoor activities, and is familiar/comfortable.  These younger travellers are very receptive to Calgary and see it as an exciting city to visit.  

For older travellers (35-54 years), the key benefits Calgary delivers include connecting with family/friends, cultural experiences (events and shows not available at home) and a change of pace or break from monotony.  Older travellers need to be reminded of the memorable moments they’ve had during past visits to Calgary, and shown that Calgary has more to offer than they realize – it’s not the same old Calgary.  

The Path to Purchasing Calgary

Regional travellers are generally not giving their “next trip destination” much thought; rather, where they go for their getaway trips is usually triggered by events (concerts, performances), visits with family/friends, or a sudden availability of time. The destination decision for a short trip is more often spur of the moment than it is planned or researched.  For some travellers, the decision is based on whichever of their three or four usual destinations they haven’t visited in a while.  Constant messaging keeps Calgary top of mind and helps to remind travellers why they should consider Calgary for their next getaway.

Creating a sense of urgency and fighting the perception that Calgary has nothing new to offer continue to be key factors.  Unless there is a specific date for a show or event, it is easy for regional travellers to bump a trip to Calgary off into the future, rationalizing that “it will always be there” and “I can go anytime.”   Regional travellers will tend to stick to their travel plans when they have planned far in advance and spent money on event or attraction tickets.  Getting regional audiences to plan ahead and commit to their trip helps to lock in the visit, and provides an opportunity to encourage them to try new activities they may not have known about before.

These travellers can be influenced early in their trip planning.  Great offers do stick with them and keep the destination top of mind.  The critical moments of influence are when they are purchasing the event tickets and/or when they are booking their hotel.  It is at these points in the path to purchase that travellers are most open to what else may be happening in the city, which will influence how long they will stay and what else they will do during their visit.   Messages and offers during the booking phase will help enlighten visitors to new opportunities beyond the usual things they typically do when they are in Calgary.    

The most engaging sources of information continue to be those that speak to the individual interests of the traveller, that feel as though they are tailored to the individual’s preferences.  Communicating a story – the experience – is important, and can be achieved through engaging media in the regional markets to talk about the experiences in Calgary.  We encourage all of our partners to work with our public relations team to provide the information on your events that we can package and share with media to amplify your own marketing efforts.

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