VERNON - Vernon has made headlines in various travel publications of late, but what you might not know is how those stories came to be.
Those writers from major publications in Canada didn't just happen upon little old Vernon, they’re part of an aggressive new marketing strategy led by the city.
Articles in the Globe and Mail and WestJet Magazine are the result of a media hosting program, City of Vernon Tourism Manager Ange Chew says.
“It’s part of putting Vernon on the map,” Chew says. “I look at this as building the foundation for bringing tourism in Vernon to the next level.”
The program involves soliciting travel writers to come to the area and write about their experience, provided they have a good prospect of getting the article published.
“If they’re from out of town, we work with Destination British Columbia and the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association to fly them in,” she says. “Our partners will put them up in hotels and I do a guided tour of the key attractions in Vernon.”
With two stories already hot off the press, Chew says we can expect a lot more of them. The city is slated to host 39 travel writers this year with the hope of seeing at least half of them lead to stories.
The city has done media hosting before, Chew says, but since she came on six months ago, she’s made a point of aggressively pursuing writers.
“We’re looking forward to getting the word out about how great Vernon is,” Chew says. “It gives us more credibility when we’re not saying it ourselves.”
While the city might facilitate the story, Chew says the writer still has complete control over the angle of the story, and what ends up getting printed — even if it’s not always a glowing review.
“We try to preface it so they have a positive experience,” she says.
So far, articles have lauded Vernon as a picturesque town known for its beaches, wineries, and charming businesses, and for Chew, that’s the best kind of advertising.
“For the WestJet story we had, if we were to buy those three pages, it would have cost us $33,000,” Chew says. “Media hosting is a fraction of the cost.”
From cheese farms, to wineries to ski hills, Vernon has no shortage of tourist attractions, it’s now just a matter of marketing them, Chew says.
“Vernon is ready to showcase itself,” she says.
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