The Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) held its third annual Tourism Conference and AGM at Trudeau’s Park Resort in Tweed on Monday, October 28.
The event, themed “Taking Tourism to the Next Level”, drew a crowd of nearly 100 active OHTO members and tourism industry stakeholders and highlighted the new ways in which the OHTO is working with local communities to support tourism development in the region.
The day began with a review of the OHTO’s 2012-2013 Annual Report, as well as a presentation from Nicole Whiting, Executive Director.
Whiting encouraged members to take a new approach to tourism that moves away from a focus on products and assets to a “Valued Guest” model that centers around building compelling experiences for visitors.
The presentations also included the recognition of 15 businesses recently granted designation under the OHTO’s industry leading customer service program, OHvation (a full list of OHvation designated businesses in 2012-2013 is attached below.)
Updates on the OHTO’s Recreational Geology and Motorcycling projects were given by Michael Bainbridge and Chris Hughes, respectively, before a new Board of Directors was elected for the 2013-2014 term.
“I am very excited to be serving once again as Chair of the OHTO as we continue the journey towards our goal of tourism excellence,” says Laurel Smith, of Classic Theatre Festival in Perth. “I’m proud to be part of this region, and part of this organization. I look forward to continuing our work as a community, as an industry and as members of this organization to build visitation to our region, promote tourism excellence, and strengthen our communities, together.”
Following the AGM, afternoon sessions included presentations from Glenn Mandziuk, President and CEO of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Region in British Columbia, followed by Dan Fallak and Emily Arbour of Small Town Thinking.
Both presentations stressed the importance of collaboration, creativity, story-telling and small town pride in strengthening tourism in Ontario’s Highlands.
Some memorable quotes from our presenters include:
- “If we want to make a change to tourism, we have to look at it with a long-term view.”
- “You want your visitors to be talking about your experiences over the dinner table at the end of the day.”
- “We’re in the business of delivering experiences and memories.”
- “The consumer is looking for stories; reasons to get excited.”
- “Tourism starts at home!”
- “Embrace your small town pride. Make it a cool place to be.”
- “Look for models that you can apply and scale them down towards your own.”
- “Wear your heart on your sleeve. People are attracted to that.”
- “Do things. Tell people.”
For more photos from the event, check out our Facebook page!
Click below for the OHTO’s Annual Report:
Tourism Conference Materials
Due to popular request, and to provide those not able to attend the AGM with the shared knowledge, we’re making the material from the Tourism Conference’s speakers and presenters available here:
Presentations by OHTO staff:
How Small Towns Can Think Big
Event Feedback Survey Results:
At the Tourism Conference, attendees were encouraged to complete an Event Feedback Survey to assist the OHTO to better understand what members liked and didn’t like about the conference. This information is valuable and will guide staff next year towards delivering an even better event!