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TORONTO — In a show of unity, the European Travel Commission (ETC) launched its Horizon 2022 Strategy in Toronto last night, aimed at promoting Europe collectively under one joint message.
With approximately 70 travel agents in attendance as well as ETC’s member countries in Canada (Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy), the evening included vital destination updates as well as an overview of the new Strategy, which Miguel Gallego, Head of Marketing for ETC told Travelweek represents a “big shift” in the organization’s market segmentation.
“We no longer want to look at just growth in numbers but rather on growth in value,” he said. “We found that by looking at specific psychographics based on what we call ‘Passion Communities’, there are niches of people who are really interested in experiences that they can fulfill in Europe.”
These three niches are: Immersive Explorers, people interested in outdoor adventure and activities; Urban & City Life Explorers, people interested in contemporary arts in urban environments; and Explorers of Historical Roots, people interested in the history and evolution of destinations. By identifying these three markets, it is the Commission’s hope that a region as diverse as Europe will be more easily marketed.
“It’s impossible to showcase all that diversity with one single message,” said Gallego, “so that’s why we’re trying to narrow it down. We’re making a shift from a very generic message to a more targeted one that aligns with the individual specifics of all the countries in Europe.”
What makes this Strategy particularly appealing, he added, is the fact that these three community markets are already present in the Canadian market, which currently ranks third among Europe’s top international markets (behind U.S. and China).
“Last year was yet another record year for Canadian travel to Europe, with 6.2 million Canadian arrivals,” said Gallego, adding that the forecast for 2019 is to close the year with a growth of 3.2%. “Canada is a very important market for us. Canadians are very similar to Europeans in terms of mindset and history and traditions, so Canadians understand Europe very well.”
Moving forward, Horizon 2022 Strategy will include a few campaigns with influencers and operators, as well as a general consumer marketing campaign that will be targeted to the Canadian market through digital channels.
Dana Welch, Chair of the ETC Canada Chapter as well as Manager-Canada of Tourism Ireland, is also reminding travel agents that the Strategy could result in more leads and travel bookings. Having a more narrowed approach that specifically highlights hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations would require more complex planning, something travellers can seek from travel advisors.
“The importance of travel agents in Canada is huge, Canadians are most definitely still booking through agents,” said Welch. “Agents are really important to us, which is why they’re here tonight so that we can share that message with them, thank them for all their hard work, make sure they’re informed early on about the strategy so that we can work with them to help build their sales and our overall traffic to Europe.”