Ottawa Tourism and the City of Ottawa want your help to get an accurate reading on Ottawa’s performance in the tourism sector, Catherine Frechette, Senior Director of Destination Development at Ottawa Tourism, says.
Frechette said in an interview at 150 Elgin St. this week that a new survey designed by Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), which works to protect and advance the success of destination marketing worldwide, will be sent out to Ottawa Tourism members as well as local businesses, attraction partners and others. The survey is an initiative put forward by Ottawa Tourism and the City.
“Essentially, it’s going out to stakeholders who would be impacted by Ottawa’s ability to attract and inspire visitors to our city,” Frechette said, noting the broader business community, the post-secondary educational community and local/federal government organizations would also be included as survey respondents.
Though this is the first time Ottawa Tourism is conducting such a survey, Frechette said the organization will join more than 250 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) who have already completed such a project. According to DMAI, the DestinationNEXT initiative evaluates a city on four quadrants to “develop a transformational road map to the future for DMO leaders and their stakeholders.”
Frechette said the DestinationNEXT initiative was tested by numerous destinations worldwide who were then able to determine how they perform in comparison to other cities and what they could do to improve on various aspects from the visitor experience, to advertising, marketing, transportation and more. “It’s how to get to the next level,” she said. “There may be certain areas that need specific improvement and that’s where this assessment tool will help identify where Ottawa shines as a destination, and where improvement is needed. That’s where destination development comes into play.”
Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism, said in a statement on Thursday that the survey will help to determine how Ottawa is doing now and what moves might need to be made in the future. “DestinationNEXT is a great tool to use to get a ‘health check’ on our destination and get a handle on what needs attention moving forward,” he said.
According to DMAI, in contrast to conventional SWOT analysis, the DestinationNEXT approach goes further, focusing on trends and issues that can impact or affect a DMO, as well as opportunities the DMO may be able to exploit such as “playing an expanded role in the community on broader economic development issues,” improving the branding of a destination in different markets and “capitalizing on social media and smart technology to engage and access residents, industry and markets.”
In an emailed statement on Wednesday, Saad Bashir, Director of Economic Development and Innovation at the City of Ottawa, said the survey will help Ottawa’s tourism industry to have continued success moving forward.
“2017 is going to be a big year for Ottawa’s tourism industry, but we need to start planning for what happens after 2017,” Bashir wrote. “This exercise is going to help the tourism industry map out a path for ensured success moving forward.”
Frechette said these types of tools help destinations look towards the future. “That’s why destinations are interested in this project,” she said. “It’s because they’re wanting to see the bigger destination picture from a 30,000-foot perspective in order to guide specific projects in the destination towards a better strategy for attracting visitors.” She added the resulting survey information will not only be useful to Ottawa Tourism, but to many other Ottawa sectors related to the tourism industry such as transportation and air access, among others. “This is going to be information that’s extremely useful to many different sectors,” she said.
According to Frechette, the survey, which uses a multiple choice from ‘Strongly Agree’ to ‘Strongly Disagree’ format, takes about 15 minutes to complete. She noted that on it, respondents will find questions ranging from Ottawa Tourism’s governance to the city, its attractions, its accommodations and its visitor experience in general. For example, one section asks respondents to rank a series of Ottawa landmarks in order of iconic value. There’s also an area for people to add additional comments, if they choose.
Respondents will have about one month to submit the completed survey, Frechette added, as the results will be presented at the Tourism Summit on May 30, 2016, presented by the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism.
In addition to the DestinationNEXT survey, Frechette noted that the Tourism Summit is also a new initiative being presented in partnership with the City.
Taking place during Tourism Week (May 29 to June 4, 2016), Frechette said the Tourism Summit will begin with a luncheon and continue with a panel of speakers that will discuss Ottawa as a destination and also, how to maximize tourism opportunities in and after 2017 as Canada’s important 150th anniversary approaches. The results of the DestinationNEXT survey will then be announced following the luncheon, she added.
“We thought that as Tourism Week was taking place, the summit would coincide nicely,” she said. “It also creates a bigger opportunity for the tourism industry to get together to network, grow connections and to share ideas.” Frechette added that Ottawa Tourism’s Annual General Meeting, which usually takes place in June, has been moved up to May 30th in order to coincide with these two events. “It’s really a chance for everyone to mingle and to connect on information or ideas,” she said.
The survey will be sent out early next week. Frechette noted reminders to complete the questionnaire will be sent out to respondents over the coming weeks. If you have any questions, get in touch with Ottawa Tourism.