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Once again travellers are speaking with their actions and the market is responding. But wait, it isn’t traditional business that is the benefactor, it’s average home owners renting out rooms for a fee.  The number of ‘alternative, unlicensed accommodations’ emerging and providing a service are raising havoc with a tourism industry that is used to control, standards, and ensuring guest safety.  Steve Hebb, Manager of Prince Inlet Retreat in Lunenburg Nova Scotia may be forced to close his business because of the growth in alternative accommodations.

Years ago when couchsurfing  entered the market it provided a modern alternative to hostelling that invites travellers to stay in your home and experience a destination in a way money can’t buy. There were benefits to the host and the visitor as new relationships were forged, affordable ‘alternative accommodations’ were enjoyed.

Airbnb, now available in 190 countries, allows visitors to rent a room in someones house. Sure it’s a gamble, for guest and host, but for some folks that is just fine and may even add to the excitement.  Airbnb is offering more than a place to stay, it is about creating a community. Some would argue it’s just a modern twist on the well know B&B (bed and breakfast) market and if we figured out how to manage that evolution, we can do the same here.

How can we take these new options and bring them into our world?Demand is exploding as visitors find neat ways to connect with people and discover a destination through the eyes of a local, home owners are bringing in some cash for that unused room now that the kids have moved out. So what’s the problem?

I look at northern, remote locations where accommodations are desperately needed, but volumes and seasonality means traditional infrastructure may not be able to achieve the ROI investors need.

Well, it’s simple.  We don’t YET have a solution for how to manage this new emerging demand and suppliers. Yes, currently they are not licensed, not contributing to marketing, and not paying taxes.  This creates an unfair situation for traditional accommodation businesses and must be addressed.  The knee-jerk reaction is to ‘shut them down’, ‘legislate against’.  Imagine if we would have tried to do that with the desire for guests to have conversations with businesses on the internet, tried to shut down pictures on mobile phones. The world is changing, consumers are looking for new, different, affordable, unique – how we respond as an industry will be critical.

I don’t have the solution, but the researcher in me is fascinated following the emergence of ‘alternative accommodations’ both from the perspective of the visitor experience, but also ensuring we will respond and amend the playing rules to ensure standards, safety, fair taxes paid, etc.


Think Before You Click!

by Nancy Arsenault on June 30, 2014

As Canada’s new anti-spam legislation comes into effect on 1 July 2014, if you are like me, you are getting inundated with requests to confirm if you wish to remain on a mailing list for the purpose of a company pushing sales opportunities into your mailbox.

You have 3 options as a consumer:

(1) Delete – and minimize the amount of email you are receiving, as you are probably on a bunch of lists with companies you are really interested in anymore, but haven’t bothered to remove yourself. What a great time not to respond and trust they magically disappear!

(2) You could say yes purposefully  and ensure you continue to receive awesome information from companies you love. I get a daily ‘advanced sale’ item from 4Imprint every day and love opening the email as it has saved me time and money on purchasing corporate swag. Or …

(3) You could say yes without thinking and maybe end up with a virus on your computer!  What a great time for computer bad guys to take advantage of the wave,  invite you to click into their world where they do nasty things to your computer and you aren’t even aware, till later!  I received 3 invites today alone from companies that I didn’t recognize the URL, I checked their website to be sure I hadn’t forgotten them (it happens) and couldn’t fathom in a million years why I would connect with such a company. DELETE!

We don’t send push emails to sell you things from our company, so it appears we don’t have to worry about this new legislation. But then I thought, wHappy Canada Dathat a great time to refresh our email list so people who no longer need to hear from us (no harm in that) can be removed (good for them, good for us), and those who want to still get our blog post, or the occasional email about new info that may help their business can continue to do so!  I think we’ll opt for the later – after the rush.

Till then – think before you click!   Happy Canada Day!

P.S. Thanks for the beaver!


What a Cool Way to Repurpose Heritage and Visitor Info together!

June 27, 2014

I love this idea posted by Gareth McPherson of the Observer!  Phone booths, like full-blown  high cost visitor servicing centres, will not exist in the same way we knew them in the 80s. Times have changed – but we still need info.  This clever idea of repurposing old iconic phone booths into mini visitor servicing […]

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Celebrating Tourism

June 24, 2014

As we enjoy reflecting on our celebrations for Tourism Week in Canada, the world tourism day is announced. These are important events to continually help educate people about the value of tourism and tourism businesses. I often say “Everyone knows how to travel, but few understand the tourism industry.” Tourism Week in Canada and World Tourism […]

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Time for a new business model – do you have the courage to change?

June 5, 2014

I  love reading lots of topics and industries to see what lessons we can learn from other industries and apply in tourism.  Today my inspiration came from the health sector, triggered by  this article in the Globe and Mail titled “I know I’m going to have a good death: Why palliative care matters.”  It strikes […]

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15 TripAdvisor Top Choices are Canadian Signature Experiences as well!

June 2, 2014

What happens when you merge excellent visitor experience companies, with a national destination marketing organization, and TripAdvisor? You get a merger of recognition for some of the best Canada’s has to offer – according to a panel that qualifies Canadian Signature Experiences and most importantly – TRAVELLERS! The very people we are in business to […]

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A company in hot water because of outdated marketing materials

May 30, 2014

The Laurie River Lodge in northern Manitoba is under the gun to apologize for insulting all native Americans. Their online guide posted  this message: “We take great care when hiring our staff; however the subject of Native Guides must be touched upon. We use Cree Indian guides from the town of Pukatawagon in northern Manitoba. They […]

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Hassle Free Camping – I Love It!

May 26, 2014

What fun to see Parks Canada venture into a highly visitor focused camping opportunity for those who want to camp … kinda! Teaming up with Mountain Equipment Co-op, you can now camp without the commit to buy camping gear! Hassle free camping, or the official government title “Equipped Campsites” is about: Hassle free family vacations Awesome trips […]

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I Prefer Control Thank you!

May 21, 2014

It’s an interesting debate – provide all the pricing information to your customers, or make them phone, or email for a quote.  In retail it’s easy but there are lessons to be learned for tourism businesses. Today I was looking for some custom notepads for our company and found a wonderful Canadian company What […]

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Tourism Cafe Fundraises for Multiple Sclerosis

May 17, 2014

We are proud to announce our company support for Multiple Sclerosis for our 2014 community fundraising focus. On July 5th and 6th, we’ll cycle 133 km with a 6-man team with a goal of raising $2400 for  MS research. Each year we proudly contribute to community through: Fundraising for a community charity; Supporting the advancement of […]

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