Elevating Virtual Indigenous Tourism
We worked with our client, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), to showcase the delicious and hyperlocal talent of Indigenous chefs across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as travellers were cancelling their flights but still craving new experiences, five Indigenous chefs invited a global audience into their home kitchens for a free culinary tour de force. From our office in Cumberland, BC, our team managed five chefs, ten video and audio feeds, hundreds of comments on Facebook Live, and thousands of viewers. The campaign reached a total of 170,000 people and gave a well deserved boost in awareness to Indigenous tourism and cuisine in Canada.
Interest in Indigenous tourism has surged over the past decade, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, many would-be visitors had to put their travel plans on hold. ITAC acted swiftly to mitigate the economic damage to members and partners, but they wanted to do more for their valued guests. Famous for their legendary hospitality, Indigenous tourism providers were still eager to extend a sense of welcome, traditional knowledge and nourishment to virtual travellers from around the world.
We heard the call for a virtual experience unique to Indigenous tourism in Canada. Our team pitched a number of “virtual nourishment” ideas to the ITAC marketing team, who immediately jumped on the idea of a live Indigenous Chef Cook-Off. Partners from the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations (ICAN) quickly came onboard as well, providing vital culinary insights and contact with some of the most renowned Indigenous chefs in Canada.
We developed a project plan that included social media activities and promotions, partnership opportunities, technical requirements and troubleshooting scenarios. We liaised with ITAC partners ICAN and Beattie Tartan for consultation in the culinary and public relations areas respectively. We were in touch with all five chefs beforehand to run through their recipes, ideas and segments. Two days before the event, we held a dry run to anticipate and prevent any technical or content issues that could have arisen.
Tools and Techniques
- Social media strategy
- Promotions and partnerships
- Technical support
Four team members brought their laptops to distant corners of The Update Company’s Cumberland office, a.k.a. command central, to oversee the live event. One was in charge of toggling between the ten different video and audio feeds, one was in direct communication with the chefs, and two answered audience questions and helped with any technical issues that arose. The event was so well attended that Facebook Live crashed in the middle of it — but we were quick to get back online. ITAC’s inbox was flooded with comments and messages from viewers around the world who expressed their gratitude for this version of cultural sharing. Many had not even heard of Indigenous cuisine before, and still more requested a repeat show.
All in all, the cook-off was viewed over 30,000 times. With shares and other engagements, the campaign reached a total of 170,000 people. Indigenous chefs from ICAN’s networks have raised their hands to participate in the next virtual cook-off… so stay tuned!