Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ontario Tourism Summit Takes It to the Next Level.

Another Ontario Tourism Summit has wrapped up and once again, Tourism Thunder Bay took advantage of the exceptional program offered by OTMPC and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

This year's program, held at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, provided a series of sessions, designed to provide high level strategic tools to help us grow the tourism sector with the theme "Taking it to the Next Level."

And that folks, is exactly what we need to do to compete globally with consumer focused demand generated experiences and focused tactical communications strategies.

Highlights this year included a global economic snapshot by Scotiabank Economist Warren Jestin, An Ipsos Reid Travel Trends address, and a riveting social and online media presentation by Mitch Joel, author of Six Pixels of Separation. We need to know who our customer is, what they really want and we have to connect with them using the tools they use to communicate with.

We also had the chance to hear Joseph Michelli, customer service expert and author of The New Gold Standard and The Starbucks Experience who really drove home the point on how essential exceptional client care is a cornerstone of raising the reputation of our industry, one business at a time. Its a presentation that everyone in the industry can learn from.

A series of concurrent sessions on the second day provided insights to the larger delegate group on the RTO process throughout the various regions as well as new product development trends in cycle touring and culinary tourism, emerging markets in India, China and Brazil, winning marketing strategies and investment attraction.

The Sunday RTO session brought together the executive leads for all 13 Regional Tourism Organizations in the same room for the first time in the process where we compared notes on progress, learned from each other on the challenges and opportunities presented by the process and the status of the various priority projects being undertaken throughout the Province. As the executive lead for 13C, the Province's largest region by geography, it was a great opportunity to learn and share best practices with others and raise awareness of our region's opportunities and challenges getting through the process.

More than ever, its imperative that we make our tourism investments, whether they be in strategic infrastructure, capacity building or marketing, on demand generated research. Its about know exactly who our clients are, what they want and how they shop for their travel experience.

Most importantly, the conference gave us in the industry a chance to network with each other and have the ears of the Province's senior ministry personnel and elected officials, giving us the venue in which to discuss strategy, learn best practices and raise concerns in a constructive positive environment. Minister of Tourism Michael Chan provided a keynote address on taking our industry to the next level on the recommendations presented in the Ontario Tourism Competitiveness Strategy

The summit is the must attend event each year and never fails to disappoint. We are in an incredibly competitive industry and its essential we work collaboratively using consumer research driven intelligence to make sound investments in product and marketing. Anyone who wants to grow their segment of the industry should be learning from this because the days of political and intuitively driven product development, substandard customer service and "spray and pray" marketing are over, perhaps something worthy of a museum exhibit.

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