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Canadian Tourism Commission: Explorer Quotient® Traveller Segmentation 


The Canadian Tourism Commission, a wholly-owned Crown corporation of the Government of Canada, is Canada’s national tourism marketer, whose mission is to harness Canada’s collective voice to grow tourism export revenues. The CTC’s job is to take Canada’s most extraordinary tourism experiences and opportunities, and promote a strong and consistent image of our country to the world through Canada’s award-winning tourism brand, ‘Canada. Keep Exploring.’


Growth of the global tourism market, increasingly sophisticated competing destinations, changing consumer dynamics and an outdated idea of Canada compelled the CTC to embark on a rebranding process. The new brand, unveiled in 2005, encapsulated this insight, “We are a country built by–and for–explorers. We attract travellers who want the freedom to express themselves through travel.” (CTC corporate website) Travellers to Canada project their own expectations and desires onto the wide variety of experiences that are available in this country; two people can be standing on the exact same spot, participating in the exact same activity, yet have two completely different experiences. The CTC believed that identifying underlying emotional motivators for travel would allow them to match consumer desires with the right travel experience like never before. Moreover, as part of the rebranding process, the CTC embarked on a comprehensive new online strategy to complement this new understanding. They envisioned that a potential traveller could complete an online questionnaire to determine his or her “Traveller Type” and be presented with appealing travel options and content, tagged for that type.


Leveraging social values expertise. The CTC selected Environics Research Group to lead the design and build of what would be known as the Explorer Quotient(EQ®). Work would involve research design and execution, developing ‘Explorer Types,’ building the screening algorithms for the online questionnaire to classify respondents and consulting on marketing communications. Environics was selected by the CTC on the strength of Environics’ proven, extensive global expertise in psychographic/social values research and multivariate segmentation methods. Environics also had proven expertise in building segmentation algorithms for online classification of social values segments – Find Your Tribe.

Utilizing rigorous and extensive research approaches. The research process that resulted in the creation of the EQ segments followed an extensive process of qualitative and quantitative research. The first stage included identifying and quantifying the set of core travel values that drive travel choices. These were fielded in large survey samples in each country, and were the basis for which the global segmentation analysis was performed. By including social values, travel behaviours and demographic questions, we were able to provide a comprehensive understanding of how travel fits into the lives of each segment. The resulting segmentation model contained nine distinct Explorer Types within four broad categories: Enthusiastic Indulgers, Learners, Familiarity Seekers and Escapists. Our partners at Environics Analytics linked the EQsegments to their PRIZMC2 geodemographic segmentation system, allowing for richer lifestyle profiling, identification of their media habits and the ability to find them locally for direct marketing efforts.

Maximizing user engagement. Environics then identified the shortened battery of travel values questions drawn from the full survey that could be used to construct the online classification tool to allow visitors to the CTC’s website to find out what segment they belong to.


What began as a market intelligence exercise to fuel the creation of Canada’s new tourism brand has since transformed into something far beyond its initial vision.

A global strategy. In 2008, the CTC developed a Global Platform strategy to focus on international markets and traveller segments with the highest potential return on investment. The CTC research carried out by Environics was expanded from the original three countries (Canada, US and UK) to include online quantitative research in Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, France, Germany and Mexico. Although each market has its own unique perspectives, Environics found consistent travel values across all key markets, resulting in many of the same EQ segments appearing in each country. This allowed the CTC to develop a global strategy by focusing resources on three high priority segments: Cultural Explorers, Authentic Experiencers and Free Spirits.

Today, travellers from 10 countries can take the EQ quiz, in their own language, and be matched online with Canadian experiences most suited to their Traveller Type. Subsequent waves of research were fielded by Environics in 2011 to refresh the results in six key markets and uncover new information about the segments.

An integral strategic tool. EQ has become a strategic marketing tool for the CTC and plays a prominent role in two of the four strategic priorities: Ensure customer relevancy and differentiate Canada; and Lead industry in international brand alignment and consistency. The 2011-2015 Corporate Plan identifies EQ, along with Canada’s tourism brand and Canada’s unique selling propositions, as the three filters used to assess all activities. The CTC uses EQ as a lens for all agency briefs, has piloted EQ programs with the travel trade, produced imagery and copy for EQ targets, applied EQ to media buying and PR efforts, and infused EQ into its overall marketing strategy.

“We still use what we know about demographics (but) we layer over what we understand about travel motivations and how it relates to social values and we’ve developed a better understanding of our customers than, we think, anybody else. So we can talk to them more effectively and we can convert them ultimately more effectively.” Michele McKenzie, President and CEO, Canadian Tourism Commission interviewed in Canadian Business, Dec 13, 2011.

Aligning the industry on Canada’s tourism brand. The CTC is leading the industry in Canada by offering an aligned, customer-centric program to industry partners at the provincial, territorial, regional and private operator level. To date, the program has been licensed by Parks Canada, New Brunswick Tourism and Parks, Travel Alberta, Banff Lake Louise Tourism, Tourism Jasper, Edmonton Tourism, Tourism Calgary, Chinook Country Tourism, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and Tourism Yukon. These organizations use EQ insights to better understand, prioritize and market to their target customers; some of the destination marketing organizations have imbedded the EQ quiz into their websites. Hundreds of private tourism operators, including those among the CTC’s Signature Experiences Collection, have familiarized themselves with the EQ system and have looked at their customers in new light through the EQ lens.

“We use EQ as a lens to view all our marketing activity.” Travel Alberta

”EQ has become a fundamental part of our strategy.” Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association

“EQ is at the centre of our office. We start our conversations at the same place, with the same knowledge.” New Brunswick Tourism and Parks

Some other examples of EQ results:

  • Among CTC website visitors who take the EQ quiz, 85% of visitors click through on EQ-specific content.
  • Tailor Made Travel in the UK experienced twice the open rate and twice the click through on an EQ targeted campaign.
  • Hanatour in South Korea surveyed 11,000 people with the EQ quiz. Through brochures designed to appeal to priority EQ types and a targeted campaign, they doubled their sales to Canada over the previous year.

In 2007, the CTC and Environics Research Group were awarded the “Best in Class” Award of Excellence by the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA). The CTC receives multiple awards annually for excellence in marketing – awards which reflect the CTC’s investment in research, innovative use of technology and organizational excellence.

Find out your Traveller Type here.

Travel Type Quiz Graphic 

Explorer Quotient and EQ are registered trademarks of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

Watch CTC's Explorer Quotient guided tour video here.


Take the quiz to find out your traveler type.