Quesnel’s new website may be just what the tourism doctor ordered

The city has partnered with a Victoria-based marketing agency to deliver big numbers.

Credit: Tourism Quesnel

The City of Quesnel is hoping that a new website might help in bringing in visitors

The city has partnered with a Victoria-based marketing agency to deliver big numbers

It would be putting it mildly to say that tourism of all kinds has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the virus has wrecked havoc on what was one of the world’s top industries.

The impact has been felt majorly in B.C., not just in the main attractions like Vancouver and Victoria, but in the smaller cities and towns in the province where the margins are smaller and the impact of each visitor has more heft.

One of those such places is Quesnel. About an hour and a half south of Prince George and with a population of just over 23,000, it was the commercial axis of the Cariboo gold rush of the 1860s. Today, it mostly thrives on industries like forestry, mining, agriculture and tourism.

Forestry, especially, has played a massive role in the city’s prominence: Tolko Industries and West Fraser Timber long boosted the region’s employment numbers. 

READ MORE: BC’s Most Resilient Cities in 2021

But as that industry goes through a decline (including the 2019 closure of Tolko’s Quesnel sawmill), others will have to pick it up in order for the city to survive. As things return to normal, it’s possible tourism can ease the brunt. So far, a partnership with Victoria-based marketing agency Upandup is paying dividends.

Shortly after launching its new tourism website, the city saw a 440-percent increase in monthly website sessions. That’s partly due to features on the site like the Plan My Trip and Submit My Event tools that enable users to effectively plan and execute their visits in a streamlined way.

“Our lens is around user experience,” explains Upandup marketing director Charlotte O’ Reilly, who noted that it took the 30-person team at Upandup a couple of months to put together the new site. “We really want to focus on the end user, or consumer, the person who’s going to end up looking at the website, and not necessarily on the organization. That’s kind of our role—to make sure it’s user-friendly and accessible.”

Much of the work for the site also involved looking ahead at how the changes from COVID will resonate going forward. “People are more online savvy in general after the pandemic,” O’Reilly argues. “They’re used to doing more on the web. And with that, they also expect more from websites. So we wanted to set up the city with a tool that would help that influx of travellers after COVID.”

Quesnel is one of about 40 municipal and regional governments that Upandup has helped graduate into a new world where your website is the first introduction many people have to your city or town.

“This idea of automation and just trying to make it not only user-friendly, but quicker and easier for businesses to keep their websites up to date,” says O’Reilly on why her company has been successful with government clients. “And they can keep a lot of content on there as well. Managing a huge regional district website is a lot of work.”