February 13, 2013

How Reford Gardens and The Butchart Gardens Capitalized on Their Garden ‘Signature Experience’ Status

Alexander Reford, Director, Reford Gardens/Les jardins de Métis
Dave Cowen, general manager, The Butchart Garden

The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) introduced the Signature Experiences Collection (SEC)as a tool to position Canada’s unique tourism experiences in key international markets. Several gardens across Canada have joined the ranks of the signature experiences. While the CTC does not typically market direct to consumers, the Signature Experiences Collection is designed to help travel agents, tour operators and consumers appreciate the wealth and breadth of tourism experiences across the country. And to show that Canada is more the moose, mountains and Mounties and in fact full of unique places, remarkable people and special tourism experiences. The Signature Experiences program is designed to highlight what is exciting and to promote, package and illustrate these experiences to draw visitors from around the world. Gardens are often viewed as being old-style attractions – appealing to mature clients and not offering much excitement.

In the case of Les Jardins de Métis and The Butchart Gardens, adapting to the SEC meant changing our language, our photographs and our approach. Alexander Reford, director of Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens and Dave Cowen, general manager of The Butchart Gardens, will present the pains and pleasures of the Signature Experiences program and the ways in which the CTC and other destination marketing organizations can and should be promoting
gardens.

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