I am going to need your help in 2021. Let me rephrase that. Collectively, as the businesses and supporters of the visitor economy, we are going to have to lean heavily on each other and, in doing so, will be stronger coming out of COVID-19 than we were prior to it. I am not talking stronger financially, because most of us took a beating and feel like we went ten rounds with The Incredible Hulk. I am talking stronger as an industry, which means we will be stronger as a destination and have a stronger, recognizable impact on the vibrancy of the communities we serve.
Humanity has seen its share of life-altering events that linger. We wouldn’t have sayings like “it’s always darkest before the dawn” or “the road ahead is fraught with peril”, if COVID-19 was the first global crisis society ever had to face. I think that we are in those final dark days when many of us are too tired and too beaten down to be able to see past the next few months. Our feelings of isolation extend beyond personal and well into professional. But we are the businesses of social, the businesses of fun, the businesses of adventure, the businesses of personal connection and reconnection. Our role is to bring joy and smiles while making lasting memories… oh and making money for ourselves, our neighbours and our communities.
We inherently understand that connecting with others can brighten even the darkest day, and yet put all of our efforts into others while neglecting ourselves. 2020 was too tough and too much weight for you to shoulder on your own. 2021 is the year we need to connect as businesses and business supporters so that we can collectively bear the weight of COVID-19 and emerge from its shadow.
Every business in every town and region is fighting for the same visitors. The majority of “tourism” in 2021 is going to come from Ontarians, many of whom are not going to be comfortable travelling more than 100km from home. This bodes well for the businesses in our region, if we can cut through the noise of everyone else clamouring for the GTA’s attention. So where should we all be spending our time? I don’t think it should all be on trying to individually reach potential customers in the GTA. That is definitely part of the puzzle, as should working together to tell the bigger story of why someone should choose our towns over heading to Halton, Hamilton or Niagara.
There is a good chance that you want to work with others to create a destination, are willing to spend the time doing it, but don’t know how to begin. That’s where we come in! If you are a business, we know other businesses in your community and will get the conversation going. If you are a BIA/Chamber/BOT/Municipality, give us a call and we will facilitate discussions with your stakeholders which will get the creative juices flowing and deliver great new experiences. We will connect all the way through the chain – from operator to municipality to region to us and the province – so we can leverage each other’s expertise and all sing from the same song-sheet. We will cut through the marketing noise of individual businesses in other regions by reaching our potential guests from many sources, all with a collective message as to why visiting us is worth their time and effort.
Central Counties is going to be reaching out to our partners to get these conversations started. There are a lot of partners in our large geography. From experience, we know that the most successful programs begin with at least one engaged stakeholder who is determined to affect change for themselves and their community. If you are that person, let’s get the conversation started and prioritize your community. It is as simple as sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s work together to make memories for our visitors and money for our businesses.
Here’s to a Happy 2021!!!