6 Months in Review

As I reflect on the last 6 months as Executive Director for Northeastern Ontario Tourism (NeONT), I wanted to share with you some of the changes and key accomplishments achieved during this time.

For businesses big and small, the past year has certainly been challenging, NeOnt being no exception. We’ve all had to re-invent ourselves in some way and adapt our business models to match the changing landscape.

NeOnt’s Partners across the region since my joining, have always been a personal priority. With a mighty team of only 2, (thank you Stephanie Hurst), we’ve worked very hard on improving Partnership communications and processes, collaborated on the creation of a new website redesign and DYI Digital Print Marketing Resources, and organized new advertising opportunities. Many of these accomplishments would not be possible without FedNor funding obtained in September.

Behind the scenes, we have been very busy with administrative tasks and other projects.

Administrative Milestones

  • Created a first ever, centralized system for document storage and retrieval
  • Created enhanced filing systems for optimal file organization
  • Cost savings measures taken:
    • Significantly reduced the cost of bookkeeping services – a savings of over $15,000 per quarter
    • Without penalty, got out of a long term office lease agreement in Sudbury and relocated the office to Callander ON – savings of over $20,000 annually
    • Made good use of over $9,000 of Prepaid Express Post envelopes previously in storage (resulting in mail cost savings)
    • The Board finalized their long standing Partnership fee restructuring decision, by increasing Operator fees from $149/year to $300/year, bringing NeOnt in line with other regional DMOs in Northern Ontario

Marketing Development Milestones

  • In addition to the creation of a new website, created and promoted new and improved branding tactics and tools
  • Created DIY Digital and Print Marketing Resources for our Partners (funded by FedNor RRRF)
  • Created additional advertising opportunities (Motorcycle Touring Map and Museum Map) in which we are currently acquiring Partners for the publications (increasing revenue)
  • Created new rack card promoting NeOnt to potential Partners

 

  • Shipped over 100 boxes of 2020 Travel Guides and Moto Maps printed in Spring of 2020 to numerous Tourism Info Centres across Ontario
  • On-demand, mailed hundreds of Travel Guides and Maps to Consumers
  • Launched a survey inviting artisans throughout Northeastern Ontario to submit their business information, with the goal to promote them on our website by creating a year-long gift guide – searchable by sub region and product type (new potential Partners).

Operational Development Milestones

  • Secured 50/50 funding for the professional, 3rd party development of the organization’s 2nd only ever Strategic Action Plan – currently in development

Partnership Milestones

  • Improved Partnership communications and processes, including in-house monthly Industry newsletters
  • Created enhanced and centralized database systems
  • Created a Partnership questionnaire which is used to to obtain and promote accurate Partner information and for cross-referencing data on our website
  • Acquired new and retained former Partners in a short amount of time with our extensive letter campaign (without a dedicated staff person who traditionally carried out this role, the achievement is less than $3,000 this year to date compared to the last full fiscal year’s Partnership revenue)
  • Hired a writer to document the stories of 10 new to the area owners (funded through FedNor RRRF)

Web Development Milestones

  • Created new Community Profile Pages to better highlight Partner communities throughout Northeastern Ontario, regardless of location and size
  • Created new Landing Pages which better reflect the regional nature of NeOnt’s mandate
  • Funded through FedNor RRRF, created a new website which allows for:
    • Optimized search and classification
    • Improved Partner profile showcase within an enhanced web-based map
    • Shareable and printable trip planning features
    • Created new Partnership resources with up-to-date and relevant content
    • Hired writer for Food & Drink page content – Come Feast in the Northeast! and series of local food stories – Holiday Gift Giving; French Cuisine, International Food theme; First Nation; Fancy Feasting; Best Jam and Toast; Foods from the Forest.

Stay healthy and be well,

Donna Maitland