The COVID-19 pandemic kept people apart and sheltered at home. The tourism sector was dramatically impacted, especially in Kingston where tourism jobs make up nearly 10% of the workforce and the city sees a $500M annual economic impact.
The Closer Campaign was developed to support the recovery of the tourism sector and played to the desire people had to get closer to not only the people, but to the experiences we love most. Going out for dinner and a glass of wine. Strolling through a gallery. Perusing a downtown boutique.
Last year, we leveraged the burgeoning support local movement and the Ontario staycation tax credit to encourage our target audiences to spend their dollars in Kingston supporting local restaurants, shops, and attractions. This was leveraged by communicating Kingston’s proximity to nearby target markets while tugging at the heart strings – let’s get closer.
The campaign focused on experiences that travellers were seeking – new experiences focused on food & drink, arts & culture, and outdoor adventures – and the opportunity to experience it together in Kingston. The advantages of booking a trip to Kingston were then made even more enticing by a $100 VISA gift card promotional offer available with a two-night hotel stay, allowing guests the opportunity to explore more of the city, while extending their stay and spend in the city. The campaign began in fall 2021 and ran through much of 2022, giving the local tourism economy a boost in a time when it was very much needed.
Primary audience – couples
Secondary audience – families
The campaign was supported by a combination of digital, broadcast, print, and out of home advertising in key target markets. Distributing the media spend across multiple channels maximized reach and brand recognition, and capitalized on the engagement of shares from Visit Kingston social channel followers.
The Closer Campaign was widely embraced and provided much-needed support during a time of pandemic recovery. The VISA card promotion was successful in driving overnight stays during off-peak periods, as well as boosting visits and spending in local restaurants, shops, and attractions. This offer continues to be used to entice visits during non-peak times, as part of our annual marketing campaigns.
Fall 2021 to Dec 2022
Hotel occupancy averaged 46.25% (weekday) in 2022 vs 42.25% in 2019 (pre-pandemic), and 52.93% on weekends vs 51.19% in 2019. In peak season, occupancy surpassed 86%, which is within 2 percent of pre-pandemic peak season occupancy.