Belles of the Badlands

Canadian Badlands Tourism invites you the meet the Belles of the Badlands!

How do rural communities and tourism operators in the Canadian Badlands of south-eastern Alberta entice visitors to experience rural lifestyles and discover the hidden gems of Authentic Alberta? Not in corporate board rooms by marketing consultants with MBAs! Instead, just like cooperation was key to survival for pioneer prairie settlers, forming partnerships to meet objectives and achieve success is a natural way of life for tourism operators and communities. Meet The Belles of the Badlands, a group of passionate women from the far reaches of the Canadian Badlands who are dedicated to preserving and showcasing the rural lifestyle they cherish. Their marketing partnership is born out of community leadership where they have played an integral role in the development of the new tourism products they want to market.

This initiative was inspired by The Dames on The Range, a collaborative of ranch women operating businesses in Southwestern Alberta. However, the Belles of the Badlands' efforts feature the innovative approach of combining a wide variety of not-for-profit and for-profit tourism operators with municipalities of different sizes, to build the tourism product, and plan, pilot and execute the tours in a number of communities over a large geographical region.

Each Belle was tasked with assessing what her community and operators had to offer, and return to the group to find ways to link and collaborate their respective assets. The key marketing element was tourism product. The Belles focused on building the product in their region throughout 2011 and early 2012. Once the tours began to take shape, consumer-related marketing messages were researched by each Belle which resulted in a variety of marketing approaches. From traditional marketing such as newspaper ads, posters and trade show displays, to a media relations campaign through e-newsletters, and social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter, the Canadian Badlands tour program was rolled out in the spring of 2012.

This group volunteered their time, energy, expertise, grass roots leadership skills, and marketed the tours through their organization's distribution channels. Prior to this partnership, none of the women knew each other or had visited each others' operations.

This partnership has had regional, provincial, national and international implications in terms of improving Alberta's image as a tourism destination. Tour participants came from as far away as Wisconsin, Montreal,Saskatchewan, as well as Calgary, Red Deer, and communities throughout the Canadian Badlands. This initiative links rural tourism routes in an ambitious way and furthers the aim of making this 90,000 square km region the next iconic Canadian tourism destination. The partnership packaged existing attractions and encouraged new product development to entice local and regional residents to be a visitor in their own backyard.

The Belles of the Badlands are:

  • Linda Miller, Owner - Dorothy Bed and Breakfast, Dorothy, AB.
  • Shelley Rymal, Owner - Sage Valley Marketing and the Sage Shoppe, Wayne, AB.
  • Lorraine Kuhn, President - Prairie Elevator Society, Acadia Valley, AB.
  • B.J. Janzen, Owner - Rosebud Country Inn, Rosebud, AB.
  • Brenda Campbell, Marketing Officer - Aspen Crossing, Mossleigh, AB.

Past Belles:

  • Linda Digby, Executive Director - Atlas Coalmine National Historic Site, East Coulee, AB.
  • Sharon FIsk, Project Manager - "Bee all you can Bee", Scandia, AB.