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Developing Experiential Travel Products in Ontario’s Highlands

Developing Experiential Travel Products in Ontario’s Highlands

In today’s competitive tourism industry, it’s the tourism experience that has come to be at the heart of every destination’s brand. A tourism experience differs from a tourism product because it goes beyond simply visiting a place or trying an activity; it’s about providing a unique experience capable of evoking emotions that will inspire a personal connection to a destination.

But what is ‘experiential travel’, really? According to the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), experiential travel “ represents a new layer of opportunity beyond delivering traditional tourism products based on goods and services”. It “engages visitors in a series of memorable travel activities, that are inherently personal. It involves all senses, and makes connections on a physical, emotional, spiritual, social or intellectual level.” 

So the question becomes, how are we doing this in Ontario’s Highlands and how can we be doing it better?  Just seeing the sights is no longer enough. Experiential travellers want to become integrated into authentic local culture and venture beyond the beaten tourist paths. The CTC has built their brand marketing strategy around the concept of experiential travel because research found that travellers want more out of life and their time away, and now the CTC is encouraging tourism businesses across Canada to do the same with the release of  ‘Experiences: A toolkit for partners of the CTC’.

Here in Ontario’s Highlands, the Drum Nation Festival is a good example of an event that draws visitors into the nucleus of a community, and connects travellers to the destination on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.  As their tag line says “Drum Nation Festival is much more than a multi-cultural festival. It’s a festival about creative expression and family interaction.”

Another great example of a unique experience that can be had here in Ontario’s Highlands is the Ottawa Valley’s Rural Ramble. The free self-guided driving tour offers visitors the chance to delve deep into the world of rural living at its best. City dwellers flock to the region every year to become immersed in local culture through attending various events and sites highlighted by the Rural Ramble website.

If you want to learn more about the popular topic of experiential travel,  be sure to attend our second annual AGM & Tourism Conference in Bancroft, Ontario on Monday, October 29 to hear a keynote-lead workshop on the topic. Or, have a look through Experiences: A toolkit for partners of the CTC’ to find out how you can evolve your tourism product into the all-embracing tourism experience that today’s traveller seeks.

Yours in tourism,

Emily Sheff
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization

2 Responses to Developing Experiential Travel Products in Ontario’s Highlands

  1. beth hooper says:

    Dear Emily,
    I spotted your article on Experiential Travel in Ontario and immediately thought, “I wonder if the CTC has heard about Cup of Local Sugar (a Canadian company) and our Travel Experiences.”

    In a nutshell, CoLS offers authentic, local experiences to travelers from other cities or countries. In this way, a traveller gets to really know what life is like in Ontario–and not just from reading a guidebook. Each of our Locals offers unique adventures which range from a coffee tour combined with architecture and photography; home cooked grilled dinner with a local family and their kids; an area running tour; skating and hot chocolate on a local lake, microbrewery visits, and the like. We vet our Locals in order to ensure they are passionate spokespeople about Ontario, and that their itineraries are both fun and safe for our travelers.

    I would encourage you to visit our website (www.cupoflocalsugar.com) and our blog (https://www.cupoflocalsugar.com/news-blog.html) to learn more about our company (and view the photos we just posted of the Ontario Highlands area!). We would love to help support you in your promotion of Ontario in any way possible. Please feel free to contact Rebecca Stasko, our CoLS founder, at Rebecca@cupoflocalsugar.com to discuss this further.

    Beth Hooper
    VP, Client Experience

    • emily.sheff says:

      Hi Beth. What a fantastic initiative! We will spread the word to our tourism business members about the opportunity to partner with Cup of Local Sugar. Many thanks for contacting us.

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About Us

The Ontario's Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) is one of 13 Regional Tourism Organizations created by the Ontario government to increase tourism to the province. The OHTO covers a large region in eastern Ontario which includes the counties of Frontenac, Haliburton, Hastings, Lanark, Lennox and Addington, and Renfrew.

Government of Ontario

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