When the world watched Prince William, Kate Middleton and their two young children visit British Columbia in 2016, Destination BC gathered story ideas and itineraries to reach media outlets across the globe to tell BC’s story, share the experiences the Royal Family enjoyed and encourage travellers to follow in their royal footsteps. Now, BC’s tourism industry appears to be on the verge of reaping the benefits.
All told, total editorial coverage resulted in a reach of more than 111.5 million impressions. Through social media, coverage reached an additional audience of more than 21 million. Earned media coverage included top-tier outlets such as Vogue, Allure, Hello Magazine, CNN and The Today Show in the US. Figures from Destination BC show that the province received a royal boost from the visit, with more than 100 editorial pieces on British Columbia in the UK and Ireland alone. The total estimated print circulation for these pieces was over 9.8 million and the total online circulation for these features was an astonishing 82 million, with a combined advertising value equivalent of almost $2 million (CAD) in the UK alone.
Uptick in hotel searches
The Royal visit didn’t just spark attention—it brought action, as intrigued consumers researched British Columbia, suggesting people may want to follow Kate Middleton’s taste in travel, as well as fashion. Hotels.com reported a 60 percent increase in hotel searches to Canada from the UK over the course of the Royal visit. There was also an increase of over 50 percent in searches for Vancouver in particular, as the couple arrived in the city.
Surge in Google searches of BC
The same effect was seen in Google searches made in the US, UK and in Canada—and it was profound. Google analytics measured on or within one day of a Royal-related stop show distinct surges (over the previous week). Overall website visitation to HelloBC.com, Destination BC’s travel information site, was up 23% during the Royal visit. There was an increase in website visits from the UK by 111.4%, the US by 38.37%, Australia by 16.9%, Germany by 16.9% and Canada by 16.39%. The Great Bear Rainforest page received a massive spike, for that time period, with a 1,793% increase, and accommodation page views increased by 66%. The “Vancouver Things to Do” section also showed an increase of 29%.
During the Royal visit, Destination BC monitored Royal-related conversations on social media, shared media coverage from the tour in real-time, and shared relevant BC content that aligned with the Royal itinerary. Destination BC published approximately 30 Royal visit-related social media posts across its global social media channels leading up to, during and following the visit. Content was seen by approximately 173,000 people globally, receiving approximately 393,000 impressions overall. Destination BC’s Royal visit-related social media content received approximately 18,000 engagements, including likes, comments, shares and clicks. Destination BC also published three Royal visit-related blog posts which received approximately 22,000 page views cumulatively; the most popular blog post, “The Royal Brief: 5 Places To Visit in BC” received over 13,000 views alone. Across the global social media channels, Royal visit content related to Haida Gwaii and the Great Bear Rainforest received the most engagement.
From January through October of 2016, nearly 4.9 million international visitors came to British Columbia. The latest international overnight visitor numbers from Statistics Canada show a 12.2% increase over the same 10-month period in 2015, which translates to 531,431 more visitors to the province. Month-over-month statistics also show a 12.1% increase in October 2016 over October 2015. Other notable month-over-month increases from key markets include a 45.4% increase from Australia, 23.2% increase from China, 22.8% increase from the UK and an 8.1% increase from the US.
Maya Lange, VP Global Marketing, Destination BC -
“Destination BC took full advantage of this historic visit by showcasing the diverse beauty of this place to royal watchers around the globe. We’ve heard recently from our overseas teams overseas that interest and bookings are up as a result of the visit, and we’ve learned that Hotels.com reported a 60 percent increase in hotel searches to Canada from the UK over the course of the Royal visit. There was also an increase of over 50 percent in searches for Vancouver in particular, as the couple arrived in the city. The Royal visit garnered millions of impressions that will ultimately drive interest in British Columbia as a travel destination of choice.”
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour -
“It’s exciting to see so many people searching online for more information about B.C.’s amazing travel destinations such as the Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii and Vancouver following the Royal’s visit. We saw more than 4.5 million international visitors come to our province last year and we hope the Royal tour will mean an even bigger visitor tally in 2017.”