EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: https://bit.ly/3K3nekA
PROGRAM AD #1:https://bit.ly/3phaYDv
Community Futures Wild Rose launched an Agritourism Innovation Challenge to diversify the region’s agricultural economy and catalyze tourism. The initiative stemmed from extensive community engagement and stakeholder development, resulting in an agritourism strategy identifying education as the key to growth. The Challenge was designed to use education to mobilize leadership and build broad support for the industry.
The program culminated in a Showcase where participants were given the opportunity to promote their big ideas. The pitches highlighted the region and attracted the attention of nearly a million people worldwide, including investors and tourists.
The Challenge was to build a micro-cluster across the region with the help of training, coaching, networking and marketing support.
To support entrepreneurs, customized online courses were developed featuring training modules, case studies, best practices, assignments, resources and instructional materials. The program featured Live Video Workshops that built a strong regional network, fostered peer mentorship and catalyzed industry collaboration.
SUSTAINABILITY & INNOVATION
At the heart of the project was the use of education as the core strategy. First, education was used to support industry leaders to crystalize their business plans and tell their story. Second, these business plans were used to educate government and industry about opportunities to support local agritourism. Third, the stories were used to educate prospective travelers about unique experiences. The result was the immediate mobilization in the community, and increased long term capacity building across the region.
CHALLENGES & CHANGES
With COVID-19, the team made a pivot to online program development, reimagining key features for a virtual world. Customized on-line courses and live Video Workshops were developed to create a flexible yet immersive experience, accentuated by peer networking and community development. The program redesign featured multi-platform marketing through digital and print media to ensure the program and participants reached target audiences through online channels designed to outlast the program, providing sustainable communication avenues for future programming.
Facebook – 9,224 Engagements, 410,973 Impressions, 150 posts reaching 151,888 people 8,312 users
Instagram – Engagement 1,281, 114,659 Impressions 124 posts reaching 7,735 people
The program mobilized the region around agritourism as a young industry with tremendous potential. In doing so, the project created a network of leaders, supported by economic development partners and the business community.
65 businesses participated, 20 registrants, 16 entrepreneurs were trained and 7 finalists participated in the virtual pitch competition. All finalists were rewarded professional services that have led to investment and expanded agritourism assets in the region.
As a result of the Challenge, the region is quickly becoming the Agritourism capital of Canada through the development of a DMO, dark sky designation, expanded accommodations, authentic on-farm experiences and a new distillery in the works. Local leaders are collaborating on new agritourism development by leveraging the website, https://www.wildroseagritourism.ca social media, and media library.