The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) has recognized outstanding innovations and achievements demonstrated by tourism operators throughout the region by naming the winners of the 2011 Tourism Excellence Awards.
The seven awards – recognizing tourism-related businesses and organizations from Valemount, Sun Peaks, Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and West Kelowna – were presented at the region's Tourism Summit, held Nov. 2-4 at Sun Peaks.
TOTA CEO Glenn Mandziuk says, "The Thompson Okanagan has hundreds of amazing, world-class tourism destinations that are working hard every day to implement the industry's best practices and attract increasing numbers of international and domestic travellers."
TOTA Board Chair Ingrid Jarrett adds, "Each one of these winners is very deserving of their award, and we are pleased to recognize the innovation and excellence of our tourism industry through this annual awards program."
Winners of the seven 2011 Tourism Excellence Awards are:
• EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR – Adventure Management Ltd. (Valemount). In the photo, TOTA Board Chair Ingrid Jarrett, left, and CEO Glenn Mandziuk, right, present the award to Wendy Dyson, of Adventure Management Ltd. The award recognizes that, through the implementation of excellent human resources practices, this business has attracted, trained and retained staff and has produced high levels of customer satisfaction.
Adventure Management Ltd. (AML) operates four visitor centres in the region – in Valemount, Merritt, Mt. Robson, and Osoyoos. It knows that, with its employees being ambassadors for their community, region and province, they must be motivated to be enthusiastic, responsive, and enjoy their work. AML's management approach is based on an empowerment model – challenging encouraging and rewarding staff. Employees feel cared for and important, which translates into high motivation and staff retention. AML has undertaken many human resources initiatives including extensive training, personal development workshops, extending increasing responsibility, constructive evaluations and goal-setting, supervisor training in team development, regular staff meetings and pizza nights, provision for regular staff feedback, rewards for attainment of team sales goals, competitive wages and raises, and group insurance and medical/dental benefits. AML's 2011 employee satisfaction survey found high employee satisfaction, with 93 per cent saying workplace morale is high, 96 per cent saying they are satisfied working for AML, and 100 per cent saying they would recommend Adventure Management Ltd. as a good place to work.
• ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY – Sun Peaks Resort. In the photo, TOTA Board Chair Ingrid Jarrett, left, and CEO Glenn Mandziuk, right, present the award to Darcy Alexander, of Sun Peaks Resort. The award recognizes that environmental programs and practices by this business have engaged its staff, guests and the community in reducing its carbon footprint.
For two decades Sun Peaks Resort has demonstrated its commitment to environmental sustainability, becoming the first all-season resort in North America to be certified with an environmental management system under the International Standardization Organization (ISO). Sun Peaks has undertaken a long list of actions over a number of years to apply the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle and to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. Among other actions, it has: reduced fuel consumption; reduced electricity consumption; mandated the use of ultra-low-flush toilets; achieved universal water metering; practised water conservation including at the golf course; eliminated use of styrofoam at all food and beverage outlets; avoided unnecessary use of pesticides; recycled paper, electronic waste, metal, tires, lubricants, bottles and cans; banned wood-burning fireplaces; and phased out snowmobiles with two-stroke engines.
• TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION – Okanagan Wine Festivals Society (Kelowna). In the photo, TOTA Board Chair Ingrid Jarrett, left, and CEO Glenn Mandziuk, right, present the award to Sally Sharpe, of VINCOR, on behalf of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. The award recognizes that, through the innovative use of technology, this organization has improved its operations, employee procedures and guest experiences.
The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society has demonstrated leadership in its extensive use of social media to promote the valley's four annual wine festivals. It has launched a free iTunes application that includes information on member wineries, accommodations, restaurants and events – and a feature where individuals can rate the wines that they taste. It has used its website, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr YouTube, blogs and discount websites extensively for contests, sharing videos, and building awareness.
• COMMUNITY SPORT TOURISM – Tourism Kamloops & City of Kamloops. In the photo, TOTA Board Chair Ingrid Jarrett, third from left, and CEO Glenn Mandziuk, right, present the award to, from left: Kris Austen (Tourism Kamloops), Sean Smith (City of Kamloops), Jeff Putnam (City of Kamloops), and Lee Morris (Tourism Kamloops). The award recognizes that these organizations have demonstrated a community partnership between sport and tourism which has resulted in increased tourism revenues.
The City of Kamloops and Tourism Kamloops have worked together effectively to promote Kamloops as Canada's Tourism Capital – resulting in Kamloops hosting more than 100 international, national and regional sports events in 2010-11. These Kamloops organizations have recognized that Sport Tourism aligns naturally with their mandate for sustainable tourism growth. The result is that the active attraction of sporting events has generated millions of dollars for the community, has fuelled a double-digit annual increase in hotel tax revenue for the city, and has yielded many other benefits.
• TOURISM MARKETING (Under $15,000) – Westside Wine Trail Co-operative (West Kelowna). In the photo, TOTA Board Chair Ingrid Jarrett, left, and CEO Glenn Mandziuk, right, present the award to John Perrott and Salina Petschulat-Curtis, representing the Westside Wine Trail Co-operative. The award recognizes that this organization has implemented a creative, comprehensive and innovative marketing program which has resulted in increased tourism revenues.
With support from the District of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and the Central Okanagan Regional District, the Westside Wine Trail Co-operative – a joint effort of nine wineries – launched a Summer Passport marketing initiative in 2011 to promote the recently developed wine trail. The promotion included winery addresses and locations on a map, a business-supported prize structure, leveraged exposure through the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society website and social media, and various other promotion methods aimed at key markets such as Vancouver and Calgary. With 7,000 printed passports distributed and digital passports available on the Wine Trail website, the project evaluation showed that the Passport initiative increased awareness of the Westside Wine Trail, increased visitation to the wineries. Guests also appeared to enjoy the Passport promotion, wanted to visit other wineries along the Westside Wine Trail, and wanted to take part in the passport promotion again.
• TOURISM MARKETING (Over $15,000) – Penticton & Wine Country Tourism. In the photo, TOTA Board Chair Ingrid Jarrett, left, and CEO Glenn Mandziuk, right, present the award to Jessie Campbell, Marketing Manager for Penticton & Wine Country Tourism. The award recognizes that this organization has implemented a creative, comprehensive and innovative marketing program which has resulted in increased tourism revenues.
For its 2011 marketing campaign, Penticton & Wine Country Tourism launched a new brand concept augmented by a new website, television promotion, online initiatives, Facebook ads, an advertorial component, and an awareness-building 'Win a Dream Vacation' contest. The 'Dream Vacation' included a choice between six travel experiences or a create-your-own vacation. The highly successful contest generated more than 16, 000 entries and was one of Global TV's most successful contest campaigns. During the campaign, the number of unique visitors to the website increased by 35 per cent and the number of e-newsletter subscribers grew by 552 per cent.
• SOCIAL MEDIA INITIATIVE – Allison Markin, All She Wrote Consulting (Penticton). (No photo available.) The award recognizes that this business has implemented an outstanding social media marketing initiative.
Through her company All She Wrote Consulting, Allison Markin has championed the effective use of social media to promote organizations and events in the Okanagan food and wine industries. In March 2011 she organized and delivered a highly successful weekend event called "Eat. Drink. Tweet" which sold out, with 100 participants from wineries, restaurants, hotels and other tourism stakeholders learning about social media tools. The event included seminars and workshops on Twitter, Facebook and other tools, and featured a live Twitter wine-tasting hosted by social media guru Rick Bakas, resulting in the conference becoming a Twitter trending topic in Canada for three days. The event reached more than 153,000 people through 1,500 tweets on Twitter, and since the inaugural Eat.Drink.Tweet, Markin has held six more seminars under the Eat.Drink.Tweet banner in three cities. This initiative is helping to increase knowledge and use of social media particularly in the food and wine industries in the Okanagan and is increasing awareness of the valley as a travel destination.
Any of the more than 3,200 tourism-related businesses and organizations operating in the large, diverse Thompson Okanagan region was eligible to be nominated for these awards. This included community tourism organizations, private businesses, non-profit organizations, and product-based alliances. All nominations related to initiatives, campaigns or programs which were started or operated sometime during the 16-month period July 1, 2010–October 31, 2011.
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** A PHOTO of each award presentation, except for the Social Media Initiative (Allison Markin, All She Wrote Consulting), is available upon request from email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Chief Executive Officer
Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA)
250-860-5999 ext 216