KITCHENER – Montreal has musical, light-up seesaws that have earned a top spot on the must-see list of visitors. Toronto’s famous letters outside city hall have been the backdrop for countless social media posts that reach across the globe. Brockville is carving out a name for itself on Instagram by adding an eye-catching light show to Canada’s first-ever railway tunnel.
What can the tourism industry in Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington do to capture the imaginations of visitors and get them to help spread the word about what makes the destination so special? That’s what RTO4 – an organization that supports the region’s tourism economy – is trying to find out through a new initiative.
The “Shareable Moment Challenge” invites members of the industry – destinations, businesses and operators – to come up with ideas for their own shareworthy moments that will make visitors and residents stop, take a picture with their phone or camera and share it with the world on social media. Winning proposals will receive investment from RTO4 to transform them from ideas into reality.
“We’re asking people to be bold and creative. We really want them to think out of the box,” says Andrea Gardi, RTO4’s director of projects and operations. “We’re looking for ideas that will capture the essence of a destination’s DNA – what makes them truly unique.”
RTO4 will invest a total of $30,000 in selected projects. Applications will be accepted in two streams: one for destinations (including Destination Marketing Organizations, BIAs, Chambers of Commerce) and one for individual tourism-facing businesses, events and tour operators. At least one winner will be selected for each stream. Destinations can apply for up to $15,000, while individual businesses can apply for up to $5,000.
Applications are due by Jan. 15, 2020. RTO4 plans to announce the winning ideas in February 2020 and expects the projects to be rolled out as early as the spring. More details about the Shareable Moment Challenge can be found at https://rto4.ca/shareable-moment-challenge.
A growing number of highly successful tourism destinations are coming up with creative ways to widely tell their stories through the eyes of visitors with user-generated content, RTO4 officials state in a press release. The organization is hopeful its challenge will not only create shareworthy photo opportunities that leverage visitor engagement, but also increase visitation to key destinations, businesses and events.
“The ideas themselves can be simple, but at the same time they can be very dramatic and engaging,” Gardi says. “Each idea should have a clear sense of place. We want people to know exactly where pictures shared by visitors were taken so they are inspired to experience it for themselves.”
RTO4, one of 13 regional tourism offices established by the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport in the province of Ontario, provides leadership and support to the tourism economy in Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington.