May 16th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 20
OR NEWS TIP?, from concept to new look
Part one: where it started
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Source: website
Pass Herald Reporter
In 2016, the Economic Development Committee (EDC), a municipal advisory board, committed to create a website focused on promoting tourism and inspiring relocation to Crowsnest Pass. By the beginning of 2017, the website went live.

Now, well into 2018, members of the community question its purpose, necessity and value.

This is the first of a three-part series that will explain the benefit that the website brings to the municipality, the ongoing improvements that are being made and how tourism and hospitality businesses can utilize it as a tool.

Part One explains why the EDC saw value in creating a tourism and relocation website and how the concept became a reality.

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass does not employ an Economic Development Officer or a grant writer. These are valuable positions that drive promote a community in order to attract business development opportunities and economic growth.

Recognizing the lack of a municipal voice on these matters, the EDC was motivated to think of solutions that may fill the gap and, in 2015, a subcommittee was created to take the lead on the project to develop strategies that could promote recreating and relocating to the area.

Relocation was an important focus of the EDC's goal, an element that goes hand in hand with promoting tourism and recreation in the area.
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“The idea was to attract people here to visit and then, maybe get them to buy a home here, which would lower the tax base, increase the selling of properties, create some activity and by bringing people here, we'll automatically attract businesses as well,” says EDC board member Oliver Strickland. "We saw a common denominator that when you want to play here and hike here and bike here, then you have a tendency to consider buying a home here. That's where we were driven, that if we promote the playground, maybe people will buy into this tourism site and buy a home here."

The EDC’s original idea was to create a magazine that would be distributed in businesses, along travel corridors and throughout public areas.

However, very early on, that idea was discarded.

"We came to the realization that the magazine was too outdated, it needed constant upgrading every year and the cost of doing a magazine was just too expensive,” says Strickland, co-chair of the subcommittee. “So then we started thinking about a website.”

First, they decided to see if a tourism and relocation element can be incorporated into the municipal website,

"When we opened it up, the first thing we saw was a schedule of where we could throw out waste and recycling. That was not very attractive," says Strickland. "Then, when we started going the website, it was a lot of administration, bylaws, council meetings... It was very busy and driven for local people. We didn't think we could add an attraction to that site for people interested in moving, recreating or buying a home here."
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That’s when the EDC decided to pursue a separate website dedicated to providing information and creating stories around tourism, business promotion and relocation.

The EDC dedicated $20,000 from their 2016 budget to make it happen. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent out and, of the five companies that bid, NATIONAL Public Relations out of Calgary won the bid.

"The reason we picked NATIONAL is because their presentation was awesome, their managing partner is from the area and because we got value added from them. They were prepared to give us a $60,000 website for $20,000. That took them over the top," says Strickland.

The outputs expected of National were to create a website dedicated to tourism and relocation. As a bonus, National also created a three-year strategic marketing plan to drive visitors to the region.

Over the course of 2016, NATIONAL conducted several surveys in the community to determine what locals would want to see happen in the website. The feedback that they received asserted that most Pass residents don’t want their home turned into a luxurious commercial destination like Canmore. Instead, they want to keep it authentic and wild.

Based on that research, the website launched in January 2017...

Part two in next week's Pass Herald will look at what the EDC has accomplished to date with the GoCrowsnest website.
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May 16th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 20
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