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Igniting Experiential Tourism for Communities

by Todd Lucier on April 23, 2015

founder of Tree Ring Records brings the brewery to life after hours in a unique private experience for Ignite Haliburton.

I was very pleased to welcome 19 excited tourism peeps to Ignite Haliburton hosted at our Algonquin Park home, Northern Edge Algonquin in the ‘Explorer’s Edge’ region of Ontario April 13-19, 2015. Ignite Haliburton is a new type of project to address current needs to innovate and establish new tourism experiences from the grass roots for a community of attendees through a process of Discovering, Dreaming, Designing, and Delivering new tourism experiences.  You may be familiar with these terms from a process called Appreciative Inquiry which grounded this program.

Over the past decade I have been privileged to work with tourism industry professionals throughout Canada, in particular as a course designer and facilitator for the Edge of the Wedge Program at Gros Morne Institute for Sustainable Tourism where I have shared many stories of innovation and transformation from this community over the last decade.

Stories are a great way to learn, but on Ignite Haliburton we spent three full days with my team, partners and tourism allies from the surrounding community to learn how our remote, rural community crafts world class experiential tourism offerings. Centred at our Northern Edge Algonquin Retreat on the Edge of Algonquin Park, participants experienced first hand how the off-the-grid eco-lodge is crafting unique and targeted visitor experiences recognized as Canadian and Ontario Signature Experiences.  In all, this program engaged over a dozen community partners!

In addition to learning from some terrific people, we explored a variety of built and natural community stages for tourism experiences.

The climax of the experience was when attendees used a new program development planning template, prepared just for Ignite Haliburton, to design new compelling tourism programs they hope to bring to life in their region of Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization. I am grateful for a terrific partnership with OHTO and in particular the care provided by Stephanie Hessel, Tourism Development & Industry Relations Coordinator who inspired participants to attend and gave me the creative freedom to do what we do best and put our partners on unique stages to help participants infuse new experiences will local flavours at mealtime and beyond.  Our hope is Ignite provides the inspiration to leverage Haliburton, Ontario region resources to build new and exciting visitor experiences with an appreciation for the importance of community collaboration.

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Similarities and Challenges of AirBnB and Uber Taxi

by Nancy Arsenault on April 7, 2015

From AirBnB to Uber taxi, the sharing economy is growing. A recent article by the Associated Press raises the debate once again. What is interesting is the common opportunities/risks they share.

For travellers, it:

  • Creates new, convenient and access to rooms and rides
  • May be more affordable – but not always. I know a student who is renting an AirBnB in Toronto for a hefty monthly rate as a co-op student with a room and shared bathroom with the family
  • Is an accommodation/ride that part of an organized business entity
  • Has an implicit degree of personal risk in staying with/riding with an unlicensed, unregulated stranger.

From the industry side:

  • Individuals are generating new revenue and using their home/car in a new way which puts new money into the economy
  • There is no provincial registration as a business or licensing which often implies minimum standards for the consumer
  • Paying of taxes for revenue generated is on the honor system – which raises the question of growing the black economy in not paying taxes which is a disadvantage to tay paying accommodations/taxi/limo companies
  • Where there may not be a taxi service or enough critical mass to invest in a hotel, it could be a solution provider!

For the operator they are:

  • Filling demand – as evidenced by the phenomenal growth in both businesses
  • Creating an entrepreneurial revenue stream
  • In some cases where there may not be a taxi service or hotel, it could be a solution provider
  • How that is defined in the future is what remains to be known.

How it is different than couch-surfing which also grew like crazy – AirBnB and Uber charge a fee, couch-surfing doesn’t – and there lies the challenge.  They aren’t going away, and they are filling a need, the only thing left to figure out is how we make this work for the visitor, government and the operator – safely and with integrity.

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Enjoy the Holiday Weekend!

April 2, 2015
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Newfoundland & Labrador’s New Experiences Toolkit

April 1, 2015

Another province is embracing experiential travel and has created a toolkit for operators with their own provincial flair!  Authored by the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture, and Rural Development’s Tourism Product Development Division  “Creating Experiences”. It is designed to help operators create meaningful experiential travel products that will entice visitors to explore our province and deliver […]

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If you don’t think AirBNB is here to stay – read this!

March 13, 2015

In reporting the 5 trends for 2015 to watch for, tourism-review.com had reported that Airbnb has become the staple of peer-to-peer travelling around the world, without any close competitor in sight. ” To call their growth impressive would be an understatement. If five years ago only two thousand tourists chose to spend their New Years Eve in […]

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Take a look at this: The power of the visitor’s voice!

March 7, 2015

If you ever debated about the power of the consumer to communicate THEIR version of a destination AND offer travel advice to others, in two languages, then take a look at this.   Diane Davis from Gander NL recently posted about her friends Edwin and Hilda who have visited Newfoundland several times and loved it so much they […]

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The cost of a smile = ZERO

February 22, 2015

We invest millions in infrastructure, marketing, research – but when a customer finally walks through your door, what makes the difference? A great customer experience is the combination of the physical and emotional experience.  So while mother nature provided beautiful skis to fly today, the aircraft functioned to standard – neither pilot on my commuter […]

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Sweat the Small Stuff!

February 6, 2015

Yes, it wasn’t a typo. If you want to raise the bar on visitor value, command a premium price, and leave visitors with memories for a lifetime, attention to detail is paramount – in the planning, selection of partners, sales process, delivery and follow-up.  It’s what differentiates mediocre (Salieri) from celebrated (Mozart)! High end businesses/operators […]

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Travel Review Sites – Love’em or Hate’em, They Are Important

January 30, 2015

Ever use one of the biggy review sites as a traveller?  You’re not alone. In fact their reach is beyond anything you could ever dream of as a business.  Yet, I still hear from operators they don’t want to be on TripAdvisor, or if they have a listing, they don’t want to engage in the […]

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Class Action Law Suit on Destination Marketing Fees

January 30, 2015

In case you missed this item in December,  a very interesting class action law suit for charging a destination marketing fee is underway. “The class action seeks compensation on behalf of all Canadian consumers who have been charged a destination marketing fee. The hotel brands named in this class action include Best Western, Hilton, Radisson, Delta, […]

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