Employment and Proposal Opportunities

Stratford Tourism Alliance Request for Proposal: Web Programmer
Respond by June 5, 2020 at 5P.M.

1.0 Introduction
The Stratford Tourism Alliance (STA) is a hospitality-led marketing organization responsible for the business development andmarketing of Stratford Ontario as a leisure destination. The mandate is to attract and maintain increased leisure visitors in all four seasons promoting Stratford’s key assets. Our stakeholders are composed of over 200 hospitality-oriented partners roughly divided into four equal sectors – accommodations; restaurants and food purveyors; retailers and attractions/events.
We are accountable to partners through brand development, marketing initiatives, and promotional campaigns; and providing information services for visitors.
Since the formation of the STA in 2007, our primary strategic marketing focus has been to attract visitors by maximizing the potential of the digital universe – eighty-five percent of our marketing investments are dedicated to digital marketing encompassing a destination Web Site, including a blog; seasonal and/or themed PPC campaigns; E-newsletters; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Our competitive positioning is “Stratford – The Arts Are What We Are” building on our historic attraction, the Stratford Festival, and the associated creative residents of Stratford. An influential aspect of Stratford’s future economic growth is the continued growth of the Stratford campus of the University of Waterloo, with an arts degree programme focused on digital media; the Accelerator Centre for early stage technology; and Invest Stratford, our creative and innovative economic enterprise corporation.
We regularly review the content areas on our Web site that visitors found most important. The review includes analysis of user engagement, key areas of interest and the “ROI” of specific Web content. We review the manner in which consumers seek information and make decisions when selecting a getaway destination. As a result of the analysis, we have concluded that the STA cannot rely on a traditional approach encompassing a main Web Site and PPC campaigns with a secondary emphasis using social media platforms. We must create, operate and maintain a multi-layered, dynamic, integrated digital organism to inform, engage and attract consumers for the benefit of our partners and the community at large.
The STA team has implemented an integrated digital communication strategy with a coordinated, multiplatform digital presence including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blog, PPC campaigns, display ads on TripAdvisor and more opportunities as they arise.

2.0 Scope of Contract
This requirement is to provide STA with services that cannot be provided by internal staff in support of the existing VisitStratford.ca Web site. The contract will represent a supplier relationship, not an employment contract. Our current Web site is coded in PHP using MySQL. A thorough working knowledge of Javascript, jQuery, CSS and HTML coding is required. The site does not use any packages or frameworks other than jQuery and jQuery UI, and a small number of Javascript plugins. All code is reasonably well commented. The CMS is a custom system created specifically for this Web site.
STA strives to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) A.
To meet the above-mentioned requirements, the selected Proponent will be required to provide the following range of services:

  • Website and Web Application Development; and
  • Website and Web Application Maintenance.

Website and Web Application Development
The selected Proponent may be required to develop new functionality or enhancements to be integrated into the existing web application. This could include portals, online forms, navigational changes, page layout changes, etc. While the number of hours of work that will be required is unknown, in the past twelve months it has been an average of 12 hours per month. However, there is no guarantee or promise that a minimum number of hours per months will be required. As a result, we require respondents to provide an hourly rate, or similar arrangement.
The following steps will help STA and the successful Proponent understand their respective roles in the context of a given task and extract maximum quality.
The following activities may be associated with this service but not limited to:

  • Review, assess and analyze business requirements and needs;
  • Develop specifications;
  • Design solutions;
  • Develop Code;
  • Test;
  • Update/Create User documentation; and
  • Deploy.

Website and Web Maintenance
STA will rely on the selected Proponent to provide best practice tips and use of available tools for improving their organic search ranking. These ongoing services will include any additional recommendations to improve load times, capacity, services, and analysis.
The successful proponent will also be responsible to:

  • Repair any issues that cannot be completed by STA through the CMS;
  • Perform site updates, as required, within a 48-hour period Monday-Friday;
  • Perform regular screening and updating/fixing of data being served to the AI Virtual Concierge from the VisitStratford.ca databases, in cooperation with Chillwall AI.

3.0 Specifications of Project
It is imperative that rich content is presented via intuitive navigation and a stellar visual identity – not only as Canada’s premier arts town but also in Stratford’s growing profile as a leading international centre for the digital arts and media; and designated Intelligent Community. Our goal is to establish an unparalleled user experience represented by an engaging creative tone and manner – visually and in copy – communicating a dynamic persona that will stimulate visitors’ interest, intent and visits. Our claim as Canada’s premier arts town to be self-evident to visitors regardless of their age or income.

  • Mobile-first must remain the programming priority, along with browser compatibility
  • Optimized for organic search should always come into play when updating the site
  • Work seamlessly and automatically with installed Google Analytics;
  • Exceeds Google’s minimum requirements for page loading speed
  • The current CMS and “Book a Room” search platform must be maintained but enhancements, that do not fully alter what our partners are used to using, are encouraged (Partners are currently able to revise all text and images on their profile pages, using form fields to maintain the page template; and submit events and promotions with an image for approval – password-protected Partner Area.)
  • Site design must remain expandable and scalable; and enable maintenance and changes to be done with internal staff resources and/or future programmers
  • Working with other 3rd party software vendors (for example HubSpot and Chillwall*) to ensure embedded elements such as CTAs, Forms, and widgets function properly and look as intended

*The site integrates with Chillwall by preparing JSON formatted feeds that are sent via a CURL request to the Chillwall server. All programming is in place to create and send the feeds by calling functions. Events are automatically pushed to Chillwall as they are added through site admin, but on occasion special utility scripts must be used to batch send additions of events (e.g. bulk Stratford Festival performances) or randomly selected trending events upon request. This must be done by the programmer and some editing of query parameters is required to pull the correct records or time period from
the STA database.

4.0 Credentials
Interested parties responding to the Request for Proposal must include the following information:

  • Brief overview of the company’s business history, design portfolio, credentials of key personnel including technical details supporting your capabilities to code using the current platform and Content Management System
  • A summary of the action plan for site transition, process and time-lines
  • Provide three (3) examples of previous projects, similar in scale and scope of that outlined in this proposal. Please include nature of the Client’s business, challenges, strategies and objectives
  • References
  • Estimated costs associated with transferring site access.

5.0 Steps and Timing
Interested parties should forward, via e-mail, their proposed approach, credentials, and estimated costs as outlined in 4.0 Credentials to:
Christina Phillips
Digital Tech
Stratford Tourism Alliance
47 Downie Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 1W7
cphillips at visitstratford.ca

Deadline for Submissions: Friday, June 5, 2020 at 5:00pm.
All content provided by the proponents will be kept confidential.
All submissions will become the property of the Stratford Tourism Alliance.


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