Re: Terry Aseltine's column Manitoba stumbles on name game, again (Dec. 20). While we certainly appreciate Aseltine's feedback on Travel Manitoba's new brand, I would like to clarify a number of issues raised in the column.
Alberta's tourism brand is "Remember to Breathe," and British Columbia has used "Super, Natural, British Columbia" as its tourism marketing brand for a number of years.
Unlike Aseltine's commentary, Travel Manitoba's new brand is grounded in solid research conducted by Environics for the Canadian Tourism Commission. The Explorer Quotient, or EQ, is an innovative market segmentation system that goes beyond demographics to look at people's social values and views of the world, powerful drivers of purchasing and travel decisions. EQ provides a comprehensive picture of travellers' demographics, origins, behaviours and motivations, plus their social and travel values.
Two traveller types were determined to be best aligned with the tourism experiences Manitoba has to offer. These two types -- cultural explorers and authentic experiencers -- are also two of the three types that research shows are most inclined to want to visit Canada, a key stepping stone for international travellers also making a trip to Manitoba.
In addition to the EQ research, Travel Manitoba and its Winnipeg agency, McKim Communications Group Ltd., surveyed Manitoba tourism industry stakeholders.
The brand statement: "Manitoba: Canada's Heart Beats" was focus tested in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Calgary -- and all focus groups included cultural explorers and authentic experiencers. The concept was very positively received and the majority of participants felt the campaign approach was likely to get their attention, was persuasive and was likely to make them want to visit Manitoba. While Aseltine's expert does not value focus testing, most agencies use some sort of focus testing.
To date, the reaction from industry and the general public has far exceeded our expectations. One of the strongest endorsements for the new brand came from the well respected CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission, Michelle McKenzie, who recently wrote:
"Manitoba has just launched a new tourism brand "Manitoba: Canada's Heart Beats." It is stunning. Not only is the imagery beautiful, but it is a terrific example of smart marketing... It will be a great tool for Manitoba's trade development, investment and economic development endeavours."
Canada has one of the most respected brands in the world, in fact, it ranks No. 2 amongst all nations in the category of most respected tourism brand. The brand statement, "Manitoba: Canada's Heart Beats" takes advantage of that reputation. Many international customers have no idea where Manitoba is, so clarifying its central position within Canada was intentional.
We are the heart of Canada, literally and figuratively, as Manitobans are known for our warm, heart-felt welcomes and our friendly people. Finally, "Beats" references the fact that Manitoba is beating with tremendous energy and momentum in the tourism industry, with new and one-of-a-kind tourism assets set to open in 2014 and beyond.
This campaign is intended to encourage others to take another look at Manitoba, change the way people view Manitoba as a travel destination, and perhaps even change the way we, Manitobans, view ourselves.
Thank you, Mr. Aseltine, for providing the opportunity to explain the power behind "Manitoba: Canada's Heart... Beats."
President and CEO