Urban Design (xv) Local promotions

I am often struck in Europe by how much they promote vacations within the home country or inside Europe. And not just de luxe vacations.

Here’s a grocery store chain poster for local weekends not-far-away:

Note they are not so much selling the destination (how different is a location less than 100 miles from home?) as what you could do at the destination. Send the kids to grandma, and take the train or car to treat yourself. (24 euros is about $36  Cdn).

In France, the school March break weeks vary around the country so there isn’t one giant peak. The actual week off rotates by region, so everyone gets a crack at prime time. Schools offer trips to other regions for skiing or art galleries or just touristing. Instead of day camp in the community centre, take the kids to the Louvre. This probably generates national pride and knowledge. Our media coverage of March break is schizophrenic … its either a “suffer with the kids underfoot” survival-type story, or exhortation to spend big and go to where its warm. We fail to develop national pride at our peril.

This local train station offered tourist travel at non-rush hours at reduced rates:


However, the local big grocery store had an even better deal:

I bought my ticket at the grocery store service counter  and got this folder:

… containing this disposable chip readable card …

and it came with bonus coupons, usable at the dutch train station concessions:


That American cookie (choc chip) and coffee gave the frugal tourist energy to head on to the next  site:

I like the cross promotions shown here. The local version of Loblaws promoting staycations and regional travel, the domestic tourism promotions. I am vaguely surprised more businesses don’t try to tie into things like transit. I do like that Shoppers Drug Marts now have some sort of tie in to Presto cards, but just what exactly are they offering and where in the store? I haven’t seen any ticket machines in their stores …

Perhaps recognizing the purchasing power of transit users (the average transit commuter in Ottawa may well have a higher income than the average car commuter here) I do notice the Spring Home Show at EY Centre next week is offering free admission on Thursday to Presto card holders (bus #97).

May there be many more tie ins to local transit.

I live right beside Preston Street. Apparently the PBIA is running a restaurant promotion. But there were no flyers to local households to encourage us to get out and try a new restaurant. And locals are probably the most likely repeat clientele. Does the Chateau Laurier have a slow period? Why not a promotion to locals to try it out? I’ve never stayed there. But I did take up a Chateau Montebello weekend package deal once, and I have good memories of it.

Good trips and experiences have to be promoted. The market has to be developed. And there must be something interesting to do or see. It may be I miss what is local because it is local. Or maybe we just aren’t competitive.

I get the occasional gentle rebuke from readers I meet around town who urge me to cycle / vacation here in Canada. Frankly, I have no interest in sharing high speed intercity highways with F250 pickup trucks playing “mirror tag” at 80 kmh or where the slightest inattention means my injury or death. And hotel prices here in Canada constantly shock me. Once we get some more safe intercity cycle trails, I’ll be on them too. The USA has way more of these than we do. Europe has gazillions. Until then I will go where I am wanted, and can make my dollar stretch. Right now that means Europe in the summer, south in the winter. Our loss, their gain. 


5 thoughts on “Urban Design (xv) Local promotions

  1. FYI, at Shoppers to load your Presto, you hand it to a cashier who loads like they load the gift cards they sold. There is no kiosks or self-serve.

  2. Eric, as we know, most Europeans live in much smaller housing than Canadians, and back and front yards are often tiny or non-existent. On the other hand they usually walk to local shopping and commute times are shorter.
    So weekends and breaks are a time to get away from home, often using rail or other public transportation, as car ownership is lower, roads congested and cars are smaller for long trips. And when you arrrive at your destination you can usually walk to your hotel and attractions.

  3. Thanks for writing about this.

    When I was in the UK, I noticed that the train system and bus lines (National Coach) have similar kinds of promotions for tourist travel. There were brochures for these programs at the stations.

    If you were traveling from Cambridge to London say, and bought the excursion add on, it would get you into some attractions, provide discounts, etc. But if you were in London already, you couldn’t just buy that promotion to get the discounts.

    I can’t remember if it was because of something you wrote (I think it was the Guardian) that I looked up the Swiss Travel Pass, e.g., the year long pass costs about 3900 francs, but it bundles lots of benefits including if not free access to various museums, discounted access. And local transit is included as part of the travel pass anyway.

    (In the US, MARC monthly pass holders get to use transit for free in Baltimore, and on Metrobus in DC, and RideOn bus in Montgomery County Maryland; Metrolink users in SoCal can ride most local transit for free, the QR code in the ticket is readable by the fare readers; in NC, the NCDOT set it up that Amtrak riders can ride local transit free in their destinations.)

    WRT SDM, yes, in the US many drug stores, supermarkets, and other places have a similar setup for adding money to a pass. They aren’t good at marketing this. (I wrote about London doing a better job here: http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2018/09/wmata-metrobus-proposes-to-go-cashless.html )

    Note that STM created a card reader gadget that allows you to do this yourself, although you still have to swipe your card at a fare machine on the system before you proceed to get it to register.


  4. With a presto card, free admission to the Spring Home Show – this is my one source for this information. They need more advertising!

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