Showcasing Indigenous tourism experiences in Canada
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, a long-term partner of The Update Company, wanted to create a public-facing website to promote and showcase Indigenous tourism in Canada. They wanted the site to be a one-stop shop for Indigenous experiences as well as provide an informational element to educate visitors about Indigenous culture and living history.
The site needed to function as a directory for Indigenous-owned and operated businesses across the country and allow visitors to book tour packages and experiences, find Indigenous culinary experiences, and shop/purchase authentic Indigenous art and gifts.
The goal of the site was to reach travellers from all over the world but once COVID restrictions hit, we needed to focus more on domestic tourism and showing Canadians what Indigenous experiences were available closer to home. The pandemic also meant that we needed to be able to make rapid changes to the site and the business listings to show closures, restrictions, and protocols.
There was a large range of different types of Indigenous businesses that needed to be included in the directory, so in order to be able to fully optimize the sites and to avoid competing against ourselves, we needed to create multiple sites to house the different businesses categories.
Since the site spanned the entire country, we needed to make sure that the entire site was fully bilingual–beyond Google translate– which meant adding string translations and including a French admin panel.
What we did
We created 6 separate Destination Indigenous sites that each highlight Indigenous businesses in Canada:
- Destination Indigenous Vacation Planner
- Culture and Heritage Experiences
- Accommodation and Relaxation Experiences
- Wildlife, Nature & Adventure Experiences
- Indigenous Outfitters
- Indigenous Culinary Experiences
- Indigenous Arts & Crafts
- Indigenous Winter Experiences
- Canadian Pow Wows
By structuring the sites in this way, and giving each site its own URL, we were less likely to compete against ourselves in search, able to categorize content such as blog posts and educational elements in a meaningful way and send traffic from our campaigns to relevant domains with only related information.
The sites are connected through several integrations and share information including blog posts (you can access all of them from the Vacation Planner site), map functionality, educational elements, and business listings. This connection simplifies the maintenance and upkeep of the sites because there are fewer locations where content needs to be changed or updated.
To showcase the Indigenous businesses, we created business listings for each that include images, a written description, location, contact information including social and links to the member website, and package options for visitors.
To fully capture the Indigenous tourism opportunities in Canada, we also needed to include events such as Pow Wows. This meant creating an approval process so that site visitors could submit events that would be sent to the site administrators for approval before being posted. We accomplished this through a form on the website that is submitted to the admin and then, once approved, is added to Cyclone and pushed to the live site.
Another goal of the site(s) was to provide education about Indigenous cultures, history, and stories. To accomplish this, we built a wealth of informational pages into each site that highlights the different Indigenous peoples of Canada, their traditions, and their connection to the land.
Tools and techniques:
- 6 custom WordPress sites with an interlinking structure
- Integration with Cyclone for business listings and experience packages
- Interactive map of Canada that integrates with cyclone to display business listings
- Integration with CrowdRiff to include UGC on the websites
- Sophisticated blog functionality that allows blogs to be categorized and shown on the appropriate site(s).
- Meridian booking system set up and implementation for booking experiences
- Tripadvisor integration to show ratings and reviews for business listings
The Destination Indigenous website launched in June 2020 has received more than 102,000 new users and 175,000 page views by the end of December of the same year. Users are spending the most time searching for experiences with an average of 5:36 spent browsing the interactive map, listing content and packages.
“Our goal is to help create, support and market Canada’s Indigenous cultural experiences in a memorable and authentic way that embraces our collective efforts, honours our traditions and demonstrates our unity. Destination Indigenous simplifies the process for visitors wanting to discover the heritage of our country by providing a one-stop-shop where they can find the amazing experiences that our Indigenous communities have to offer.” – Keith Henry – President & CEO5