Event Strategy

In the late summer and early fall, Calgary hosted an outstanding number of events. More than 10 major events were being held in Calgary in just eight weeks featuring music, sports, comedy, culinary, science and art. These 10 major events also included two new international sporting events, the Shaw Charity Classic golf tournament and the Tour of Alberta international cycling competition.

Tour of Alberta

Tourism Calgary used this clustering of events as an opportunity to create an event strategy designed to drive weekend visitation to Calgary and create awareness in regional markets (Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon) that Calgary’s weekends are fun and vibrant. The activities undertaken in August and September were designed to create a template of marketing activities for events and festivals that could be applied to major events in 2014 and beyond.

Tourism Calgary event support included:

  • VisitCalgary.com enhancements – front page banners, enhanced event pages and listings, links to tickets and packages
  • Event-specific content development
  • Email broadcasts
  • Social media posts

Additional marketing activities were mostly digital and included:

  • Event-based search engine marketing
  • Contextual search ads
  • Facebook ads
  • Display advertising on Weather Network and TripAdvisor

In Q4, the event strategy will be reviewed and refined for use in 2014. As part of this fall’s strategic and tactical planning, Tourism Calgary will identify key events that will be featured through the 2014 events strategy.

Calgary, Our Doors are Open

The “Calgary, Our Doors are Open” campaign was designed to mitigate tourism losses in Calgary for the summer of 2013 and beyond. The message and layout was simple and the concept easily translated through each medium used in the campaign. The campaign’s media plan was designed to maximize the reach and frequency of the “open” message in a short timeframe.

Calgary, Our Doors are Open

The mediums included online video, radio, daily newspapers, digital advertising, visitcalgary.com, public relations and social media.

Tourism Calgary focused on the key psychographic segments and geographic markets identified in the 2013 annual strategy. They included Free Spirits and Cultural Explorers, EQ Segments in Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Toronto.


Results around the “Calgary, Our Doors are Open” campaign are based around three objectives: awareness, consideration and conversion. The goal for the campaign was to stay on track with annual marketing goals for 2013:

  • Increase Tourism Calgary website visits by 15% from 2012
  • Increase summer occupancy level to 79%
  • Drive web referrals to partners in 2013 - 150,000
  • Achieve earned media value of $3.5 million

1. Awareness - Restore confidence among travellers. Shift perceptions and images of a city under water to one of breathtaking landscapes and urban energy.

  • Ad effectiveness research indicated the campaign reached six million individuals with an average frequency of four views per individual.
  • 90% of respondents stated that the video and radio ads told them Calgary recovered well from the flood.
  • The video and its versions have received a great deal of praise and now exceed more than 300,000 views on YouTube (over 100,000 in the first three weeks).  The video was the second most popular video in July on YouTube Canada
  • Twitter advertising resulted in 400,000+ impressions, 6,000+ clicks, 300+ engagements (re-tweet or reply).
  • The online video was converted to a broadcast public service announcement that achieved an estimated media value of $70,000 reaching an estimated two million viewers and featured on: Global Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon & CBC Newsnet (national).

2. Consideration - Establish confidence among travellers that Calgary’s doors are open for business.

  • 85% of consumers surveyed said they were reassured that Calgary had recovered from the flood.
  • 17% of consumers located in Toronto indicated an increased likelihood to visit in the next six months due to the campaign.
  • 23,000 total clicks on web ads - 3x higher “Click Through Rate” (0.37%) than 2012 travel category benchmark (0.11%).
  • Social media analysis reports indicates negative press on the flood went from 70% (on the first day) down to 1% in a matter of 10 days.
  • Tourism Calgary engaged with key social influencers like Erica Ehm, Ben Mulroney, Buzz Bishop, and Mayor Nenshi who shared campaign messages and assets.
  • The campaign continues to flourish through partners’ marketing efforts; Calgary Economic Development and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce adopted the same basic creative platform to feature Calgary businesses and are running a similar campaign to stimulate local support for flood-damaged neighbourhoods and businesses.
  • Tourism Calgary contacted 50 media outlets, resulting in more than 30 interviews on our destination with radio, TV, and digital channels in both French and English Canada. Through the newswire, the press release reached more than 3,000 media outlets. The “Calgary, Our Doors are Open” campaign received a positive response on a national and international level.

3. Conversion - Defend current bookings, mitigate further cancellations and grow room nights and overall tourism revenue – capture market growth.

  • In July and August, Tourism Calgary website traffic increased 48% over 2012 (336,537 vs 226,736). Partner referrals were up 37% (40,893 vs 29,812).

Doors Open Traffic

  • Hotel occupancy turned around in July and August. After a decline in occupancy in June due to the flood, Calgary’s occupancy rose 0.6 percentage points in July, from 83.8% in 2012 to 84.4% in 2013. This is significant given the high occupancy that was achieved in 2012 as a result of the Calgary Stampede centennial celebration. In August, occupancy increased by 6.7 percentage points, rising from 75.2% in 2012 to 81.9% in 2013. Our target occupancy of 79% for the 45 days post-Stampede should be exceeded given the strong performance in both July and August.
  • The Tourism Calgary Expedia marketing campaign, which ended July 18, booked 32% more room nights in Calgary over the same period in 2012 (May to July) even with the large amount of cancellations immediately following the flood.

We are proud to announce that Tourism Calgary and its partners are up for three provincial and national awards this fall for activities in 2013. They are:

2012 Fall Shopping Campaign

On October 1, Tourism Calgary launched its final regional campaign of 2012. The campaign was designed to drive visitation to Calgary for fall weekend getaways that featured shopping. The hotel package promoted in the campaign included gift cards for one of three Calgary shopping centres.  

October 1 to December 31 (Media in market for 8 weeks; online presence and packages through to December 31)

Chinook Centre, The CORE, CrossIron Mills, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Hotel Association, Travel Alberta TDR Fund

Edmonton, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Southeast British Columbia

Television, newspaper, magazine, billboard, online, visitcalgary.com, social media, public relations and hotel communication channels

Budget: $620,000

The campaign was supported by a new, enhanced shopping landing page on visitcalgary.com that featured the campaign’s partners and regularly updated shopping content. It also included a first-of-its-kind online shopping tool that recommended stores based on the visitor’s shopping style. This new online tool has garnered much attention since being launched October 1, receiving coverage throughout Canada in publications such as Regina Leader Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Ottawa Citizen and the Calgary Herald.

The shopping campaign was highly integrated into other Tourism Calgary fall fashion/shopping initiatives such as the Paul Hardy Anniversary event (see the public relations section for details) and an exciting social media initiative called  “Tweet Dress”.  

Fall Campaign Web Traffic – Website statistics from Q4 were positive with visits up 51% and page views up 37% over Q4 2011. The shopping landing page on visitcalgary.com was the most visited page in Q4 and increases in web traffic came from the key markets targeted by the shopping campaign.

Q4 Web Visits
Regional Market: Change over 2011
Edmonton Up 184%
Saskatoon Up 365%
Lethbridge Up 120%
Regina Up 400%
Final sales results from the campaign will be provided in Q1.