Tourism Digital Assistance Program in Your Community

With the removal of Covid-19 restrictions on the horizon, it’s an exciting time for Nova Scotia’s tourism industry. Over the last two years, while the world has been navigating the challenges of the pandemic, the TDAP (Tourism Digital Assistance Program) led by Digital Nova Scotia (DNS) has helped over 329 tourism businesses develop their online presence in anticipation. In partnership with Tourism Nova Scotia, DNS created TDAP to help connect tourism businesses with digital experts to help them develop or enhance effective digital marketing tools.

At Western REN, we’ve seen firsthand the impact of having a good online presence, so today, we’re featuring a story from Digital Nova Scotia’s TDAP program that has impacted a business right here in our community.

Greg Metcalf bought the stunning Harbourview Inn, located in Smith’s Cove, in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit.  Traditionally, The Harbourview Inn enjoyed a fairly predictable occupancy level thanks to contracts with four large travel agencies bringing visitors from Europe, America and greater Canada. Local visitors only made up a small percentage of visitors, and initially, the Inn made little to no effort to market itself to the local market.

When travel restrictions were imposed, Greg and his team made an effort to reach more local travelers but with little experience in social media marketing, the impact was minimal. When TDAP was announced, Greg saw a great opportunity to get professional help, and was subsequently matched with Atlantic Online and introduced to their lead Digital Architect, Shelley Bellefontaine.

According to Greg, it didn’t take long for Shelley’s impact to be felt, as she immediately understood Harborview’s strategic direction and took to action. The primary goal was to use social media to establish a brand presence and build awareness in the local market, allowing Harbourview to become a major player in the staycation wave.

Using organic social media marketing, Shelley began creating content that accurately reflected Harbourview Inn’s business personality. The target market was identified as mainland Nova Scotians, primarily travelers from the Halifax and Dartmouth area. In order to reach their desired demographic, Shelley used tools such as cross-promotional tagging to promote the Harbourview Inn as a destination for travelers already in the area. They also implemented broadcasting strategies to showcase individual rooms at the Inn, an initiative aimed at advertising the luxurious experience that Harbourview offers.

In the end, the project proved to be very successful. Since they were matched with Atlantic Online, the Harbourview Inn has reached up to as many as 12,000 users a month through Facebook alone, with social media engagement rates increasing exponentially. With organic social media marketing as a baseline, Harborview now has a clear understanding of their audience, an abundance of content to promote, and is in a position to employ further outreach strategies like paid Facebook advertisements.

“2021 was far from a return to normal, but a big improvement on 2020. What was especially gratifying was to see the large numbers of local visitors, and the number of people who, when they booked, said they had found us through social media or online searches.” – Greg Metcalf, Co-owner of The Harbourview Inn.

What’s next from here? Maybe book your stay at The Harbourview Inn or connect with Atlantic Online and explore ways to work together. We’d like to give a special thank you to Digital Nova Scotia and their Tourism Digital Assistance Program for helping shine a light on the amazing businesses we have here in our community.