The Town of Hinton Administration and the Hinton and District Chamber of Commerce Association officially entered into an agreement to administer the Hinton-wide marketing program on behalf of The Town of Hinton.
Council allocated $30,000 from the Emergency Response Reserve during the regular council meeting on July 6, to promote the marketing program that will focus on the summer and fall season of 2021.
On top of that, the Chamber successfully obtained the Travel Alberta Cooperative Investment Grant in June 2021, in the amount of $20,000. The grant stretches over the fiscal year from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
“I think the advantages that the town is going to see from this partnership with the Chamber of Commerce are going to return manifold to what we could have done working on our own with the original $30,000 for a community marketing program. The chamber brings resources, financial resources, human resources, that are going to significantly prop up what we could have done on our own,” said Coun. Albert Ostashek.
The Explore Hinton initiative created by the Chamber provides a solid foundation for other opportunities to showcase local businesses in the area, said Natalie Charlton, executive director of the Chamber, in her presentation.
The eight-month long campaign includes social media content and strategies, digital content such as photography, videography, graphic design, and written content, blog posts that capture experiences and conversations with local experts, a social information presence for tourists, digital storytelling, the development of a community brand, and provide metrics to showcase the return on investment.
Charlton said the Chamber wants to market Hinton as a four-season destination and although this program is focused on the summer and fall, it is important to keep marketing dollars going throughout the winter months as well.
“It’s going to be important that we share the treasures that we have in our community with people outside of our community. We all know that when people come to visit our area, they sleep in our hotels, they eat in our restaurants, they shop in our stores. It will be important to inject that tourism into our local economy. Hinton is just a treasure and people are finding us, they’re discovering us, and what we need is a strong marketing plan to share that with Albertans, to let them know that this is what we have to offer,” said Charlton.
In the past, the Chamber did some conventional marketing using Travel Alberta funds, such as a province-wide postcard campaign of feature areas in Hinton. There is an opportunity to do more of that and the Chamber has many branding ideas, but Charlton said it will all come down to budget and what’s available.
Maguhn noted that some residents feel being visible to urban neighbours through TV, radio, or print, will be important to attract those in the cities that are looking for something to do.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity and I appreciate the program that’s been brought forth in collaboration with theTown and the Chamber of Commerce. This is an opportunity to capitalize on the realities of COVID-19 and the fact that we really have a province of people going into this tourist season who are quite landlocked. There’s certainly very little to no entry down into the States, a lot of tourism within BC and Saskatchewan is being utilized by those respective populations. People in Alberta are looking for things to do this tourist season, and I think this is definitely a program that can benefit local businesses and attract tourism,” he said.
The Chamber’s strategy will aim to build off the established digital presence and community support of Explore Hinton, and help market all local businesses in Hinton.
The InHinton.ca site will be updated to encompass all businesses that hold a Town of Hinton business license, which will make finding local businesses easy.
Monthly Social Media Management, including Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok will be contracted out to a local business that employs local individuals.
Digital Storytelling includes videographers that will work directly with local businesses.
CAO Emily Olsen explained that money in the Emergency Response Reserve initially came from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) grant meant to offset COVID-19 impacts in 2020. This transfer created a surplus, which could be used by council to support the community in 2021. They chose to use $30,000 of that for COVID-19 recovery in the form of this community-wide marketing program.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice