The Spirit Way group was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Spirit Way attraction was a finalist in the Manitoba Tourism Award for MARKETING EXCELLENCE. The gala Awards ceremonies are hosted by Travel Manitoba and held in Winnipeg each year. The Awards date is May 26, 2010.
Spirit Way has primarly been developed by many volunteer groups in Thompson, Manitoba. This attraction did not exist five years ago! Being recognized in the same category as two of Manitoba’s major tourism attractions and initiatives who have access to huge budgets ( by comparison) and professional marketers and full time staff, is an accomplishment in itself. Whether Spirit Way could win the award is doubtful, but to our credit much thought and unique positioning has been undertaken in Thompson to get to this point.
The original nomination recognized these factors for Spirit Way:
- From Wolves to Whales campaign was launched at The Forks in summer of 2008 by displaying 10 large decorated concrete wolf statues
- The Spirit Way GPS Wolf Hunt was launched for geocachers to find 49 wolf statues in Winnipeg (11), Thompson (35), and Churchill (3)
- Launch of new website www.thompsonspiritway.ca
- Thompson public was solicited to report live wolf sightings in the area.
- Magazine articles and writers’ tour were sponsored.
- Wolves to Whales contest was hosted and promoted by Calm Air in Canadian Beaver magazine.
- With Travel Manitoba’s assistance, a German tour photographer visited Spirit Way in 2009, as well as writers from Society of American Travel Writers in 2008.
- Partnered with Destination Churchill on joint ad campaigns – Wolves to Whales.
- Advertising was done in Travel Manitoba and Manitoba publications.
- Spirit Way posters, souvenirs, silver dollar wolf coins, etc. are sold.
- Media conference held at The Forks in Winnipeg at Wolves to Whales campaign.
- Facebook group Friends of Spirit Way was started.
- A major new website was launched.
- GPS Wolf Hunt Passports are sold in 3 cities. Geocachers must get their passport stamped in each city to be valid.
- Partnered with Manitoba Geocaching Association to promote GPS Wolf Hunt
VALUE OF CAMPAIGN:
- Wolves to Whales campaign began at The Forks in Winnipeg in 2008 and expanded into Churchill with Thompson being the core. The campaign is planned to move into Minneapolis and Mexico and involve three countries in a “Wolves Without Borders” theme.
- Campaign has changed Thompson’s image of a “tough northern mining town” image in many quarters outside of the mining and industrial sectors.
- Campaign has created a large amount of community pride
- Spirit Way has fostered a greater appreciation for Aboriginal art and culture
- The Spirit Way GPS Wolf Hunt requires participants to travel the complete province to complete their geocache experience
- Increased tourist visits and inquiries at Heritage North Museum Visitor Info Centre
- Website hits have been growing monthly. November, 2009 stats showed 950 hits and 10,300 visits for the month. 53% of hits are coming from outside of Canada.
- Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C. invited Spirit Way Inc. to attend the biannual Carnivore Conference in Denver, Colorado in November, 2009 to tell Thompson’s story how Spirit Way has become an economic development success story.
- Defenders highlighted the Thompson story in an online newsletter to 450,000 members…
- Geocachers participated by purchasing 224 GPS Wolf Hunt booklets
- High praise comments from geocachers who completed the GPS Wolf Hunt
- Media articles, interviews, or photos on Spirit Way were covered in: Roots North, Voyageur, West, Currents, Great Manitoba Getaways, World Mural Book, Manitoba Business, Brandon Sun, Canwest Weekly, Travel Bug, Retired Teachers, Defenders eNews, CJOB, CBC, Destination Manitoba.
- National Research Council, MDS, Rolls Royce, and Province of Manitoba held a ceremony in April, 2009 to announce the development of a $30 million jet engine test facility. They requested to hold the ceremony at the Spirit Way Aviation Tribute site.
- Vandalism on Spirit Way statues or points of interest have been minimal. When the odd graffiti happens, Thompsonites have phoned their City Hall the same day to report it so the graffiti can be removed. This is evidence of community pride.
- It has been reported that there are people/tourists taking photos of themselves in front of the Bateman wolf mural almost every day in the summer.
- Numerous outside agencies have expressed interest and support to work with Spirit Way and Thompson on tourism initiatives.
- Spirit Way chosen as one of 6 Manitoba FAM visits by international travel buyers during Rendezvous Canada travel show in May, 2010