/County monitors online tourism conversations 

County monitors online tourism conversations 

By Chad Ingram

Published March 7, 2019 

County councillors reviewed a report dissecting more than 2.5 million
online and social media conversations pertaining to tourism in the
Haliburton Highlands during a Feb. 27 meeting. 
report, which included what is referred to as a tourism sentiment
index, included the monitoring of 2.5 million conversations – social
media posts, largely – from 500,000 different sources around the world
between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. 
by agency Destination Think!, it uses a series of metrics to interpret
how people are enjoying their experiences in the Haliburton Highlands. 
here, I’ll be working with stakeholders and also our own marketing plan
to look at further opportunities to further engage with consumers and
up our social media chattering game,” tourism director Amanda Virtanen
told councillors as she presented them with findings during the
terms of overall performance, 45 per cent of conversations have been
identified as destination promoters, “so people who came to the region
and were really happy with their experiences,” Virtanen said. 
was just shy of the 48 per cent median for conversations identified as
destination promoters among a group of five comparative destinations in
the region.
The Haliburton Highlands ranked high in paddle sports, skiing and snowboarding, wildlife viewing and camping. 
of those online conversations, these are some areas people are having
really great experiences around,” Virtanen told councillors. 
for outdoor adventure, “the sentiment is a bit low around that, so it
does tell me they could be having better experiences,” she said. 
Outdoor adventure, culinary arts and art and culture are the three pillars of the county’s marketing strategy. 
On food and culinary experience, the Highlands scored in line with its comparative regions. 
“We’re actually doing quite well in that area,” Virtanen said. 
then, in terms of under-performing assets, there are two things that
may be a bit surprising, hiking and nightlife . . . nightlife maybe not
so surprising,” the tourism director said. 
On hiking, “I asked a specific question about this, because we have the Hike Haliburton Festival,” Virtanen told councillors. 
popular county-run hiking festival consists of a series of guided hikes
that take place throughout the Haliburton Highlands during a weekend
each fall. 
so they said that conversation around that particular weekend and that
one experience is very good,” Virtanen said, explaining the goal was to
work on creating more year-round buzz around hiking. The tourism
department is creating a hiking section for the county’s tourism website
based on the results. 
Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy said he thought the promotion of hiking could
also be paired with assets such the Algonquin Highlands Water Trails. 
“That’s all part of the same type of activity,” Kennedy said. “I think that hiking maybe is too limited.” 
Virtanen said, explaining that the department is working on bringing
assets like the water trails and the wild water preserve under that
often think we’re doing one thing, but feedback often tells us that
maybe we’re not on target there,” said Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol
Moffatt. “I wonder about, in order to drive the conversation and change
these numbers, any thoughts on sort of a . . . promoter package?” 
said that when social media campaigns first debut, for example, there
is often excitement with people jumping on board, but how that
excitement can dwindle over time, as people stop using certain hashtags,
sentiment score is really about . . . them looking at experiences that
they’re offering and enhancing those,” Virtanen said. 
“This is monitoring the online conversations of our visitors, which we can’t really control that much,” she added. 
wondered how the county was to get stakeholders, especially those who
may not be directly involved in the county’s tourism stakeholder group,
involved in the conversation. 
think the biggest thing that they can do is start co-promoting each
other and co-promoting other experiences,” Virtanen said. “The more
conversations that are happening about what’s already happening in our
area will help consumers talk more about what’s going on in our
while the feedback to dogsledding, snowmobiling and ATVing experiences
in the county were very positive, those conversations are not happening
in great volumes. 
“The folks who are on
their ATVs or their snowmobiles are keeping it to themselves for the
most part,” Virtanen said. “So we need them to say more.”