The summer season may be over, but with national and international travel journalists coming to Penticton this weekend, the South Okanagan needs to keep shining a little while longer.
Go Media is a prestigious international event for the travel media industry and will be bringing more than 130 journalists into the community as well as 140 industry partners from across Canada. The annual conference connects top Canadian and international travel media and influencers with provincial, territorial and regional Canadian tourism organizations, major hotel properties, attractions and transportation companies.
“While a good portion of the media is coming from Canada, which of course is our main market for tourism, we have representatives from all over the world: UK, Germany, Brazil, China, Japan, Australia and I am probably missing some others,” said Colleen Pennington, economic development officer for the city of Penticton.
“It really is a chance to showcase the Okanagan and in particular, and the things that make us unique to media that can give us more visibility and more promotion than we could ever afford on our own,” said Pennington. Residents might need to be even more helpful than usual in extending a welcome to the Okanagan, she said.
“There are a lot of people here who won’t speak English. If they are looking a little bit lost and confused, just remember that this is our public face to the world and help them out,” she said.
Each year, Go Media hosts international travel writers in one Canadian province. It was announced in 2012 that B.C. would be the site of this year’s event, which began a competitive bidding process between communities.
“We actually beat out a very aggressive Kamloops who tried very hard to get this,” said Coun. Judy Sentes. “So this is nothing short of a coup for our Penticton.”
Penticton and Wine Country was chosen for its reputation for wine, recreation and outdoor adventure, all ways of helping to stimulate Canadian story ideas in journalists’ imaginations. Along with face-to-face meetings and networking opportunities, delegates will also explore the region, province and country through media tours.
“The media contacts that Tourism Penticton will gain is tremendous.” said Kelly Hopkins, executive director of Tourism Penticton.
Pennington describes Go Media as a phenomenal media opportunity for the area, noting that the attendees can help put the South Okanagan and Penticton brand on a whole different audiences’ radar. A month after the 2014 conference in Winnipeg, the city was featured in 323 media articles with a total audience reach of around 211 million.
Pennington said the benefits go beyond the stories that might be written immediately after the conference and the estimated immediate economic impact of $500,000. She said much of what was built for the visiting media is going to be an asset on our tourism Penticton site: the types of tours, the information that is going into the media kit, the photos of them out doing activities.
“Those will be things we can capture and reuse as part of our own promotional story,” said Pennington, who also expects a rebound hit in a year.
“Either people coming back because they want to follow up with a story or just simply writing a different story,” said Pennington adding it gives the city an audience of travel writers to promote the area to, ones that who have actually experienced the community.”