Go Resorting: Resorts of Ontario’s call to action

ORILLIA—One of the stars of the show at Resorts of Ontario’s annual conference held last month at Casino Rama and Fern Resort was a new phrase, “Go Resorting.” It’s also the title of the association’s new magazine, unveiled at the conference.

ORILLIA—One of the stars of the show at Resorts of Ontario’s annual conference held last month at Casino Rama and Fern Resort was a new phrase, “Go Resorting.” It’s also the title of the association’s new magazine, unveiled at the conference.  Resorts of Ontario is now selling the “resorting” experience.

Sheila Maxwell and Greg Elmhirst show off Resorts of Ontario's new magazine.

Sheila Maxwell and Greg Elmhirst show off Resorts of Ontario's new magazine.

The magazine includes personal vacation stories, plus articles by professional travellers, resort owners and guests. Grace Sammut, managing director of the association, explained that Go Resorting is the primary print piece in an otherwise digital strategy, and has evolved from a resort guide to a magazine format.  

“By migrating to a digital strategy and significantly ramping up our digital footprint, an exciting framework has been built around the deployment of the magazine, in tandem with social media, including Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and blogs,” Sammut noted in a post-conference digital news release. “Through the magazine, we will be able to sell the resort experience in a more emotive, storytelling way that people can easily relate to,” she explained.

The digital strategy is already yielding results, with a 300 per cent increase in unique visits in spring and summer 2012, Greg Elmhirst of Elmhirst Resort noted in his marketing report during the annual general meeting. This tally takes in radio, digital, a campaign-specific url, Flyerland contests, Google AdWords and other marketing initiaitves. 

The Resorts of Ontario website got a distinct facelift at a miniscule cost thanks to recomendations from Mark Coles of First Page SEO.  All members are now listed on the website, and last year the website alone had a 52 per cent increase in traffic over 2011, with page views numbering just under half a million.

In other Resorts of Ontario news, the association has hired Glenn Spriggs as manager member field services, to liaise, recruite and maintain association membership. Spriggs came to the association in December, after four years with the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC).

The mood at the conference was cautiously upbeat, as Brian Stanford of PKF told delegates they should take advantage of slow but steady growth in the next few years, and raise their rates.  Sean Billings, GM of Horseshoe Resort, gave a well-received motivational speech about identifying your resort’s unique capabilities, and working within your capacities to create unforgettable experiences for guests.

Fern Resort hosted a multi-course gala dinner, impeccably served by staff including many recruited from Jamaica. At the dinner, outgoing chair Sheila Maxwell of The Briar’s Resort turned over the reins of the association to Mark Downing of Fern Resort.