By Steve Hubrecht & Nicole Trigg
The Columbia Valley Tourism Marketing Committee held the valleys second annual media weekend from Friday, May 31st to Sunday, June 2nd, drawing more attendees than last year and generating some online buzz.
We had about 40 to 45 media sign up to come out to the valley for the weekend with their families, said committee member Andrea Tubbs. Its an increase of about 15 compared with last year, so its grown.
Members of the media came to Invermere, Radium Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs and surrounding areas from across Alberta and B.C., some from as far away as Edmonton and Vancouver.
We had all types of media; mostly we tried to get on-air personalities but there were many writers and several program directors from radio stations, which is great because that can lead into spinoff for contests, said Ms. Tubbs. The potential spinoff for these types of things can be anything from contests to articles to DJ chitter chatter on the airwaves or the morning news, which you cant buy.
The event is designed to give the valley exposure in places where potential tourists live. Attendees enjoyed free accommodation and participated in a wide range of free activities, such as stand-up paddleboarding, whitewater rafting, golf, yoga, art classes and nature walks.
High Country Properties started the media weekend last year, but with just one accommodation business organizing everything, it was smaller. This year, many valley-based accommodation and tourism businesses worked together to plan the event along with the Panorama Destination Marketing Organization, Radium Tourism and the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Many people have come forward with donations, time, energy, taking the media out on all the activities during their normal business hours when they could be making money instead, said Ms. Tubbs. Its great because were trying to foster the attitude in the valley of lets all work together and see how great it can be doing things together, rather than all these silos that exist.
The response of attendees to the weekend was considerable, resulting in a wave of social media activity, according to Ms. Tubbs.
There were about 300 tweets (on the social media website Twitter) and roughly 100 more re-tweets from local media and local businesses, she said. People in the city are technologically connected so theyre on the tweeting straight away.
This kind of social media attention can have huge benefits, according to Ms. Tubbs.
The tweeting is an immediate thing that helps us because each of these people has numerous followers, more than any one of our companies would, so it gets us out in those markets, mainly Calgary because thats where most of the media is from, she said. (Their followers) can click on the hashtag (used to categorize and search for tweets), see what everybody is saying and learn more about our area without actually coming. Maybe it intrigues them into coming.
The committee is hoping to grow the event next year to the point where it will need to cap registration.