This is fall in the Riding Mountains. My short list of three things I love to do during the September, October season includes photography, listening to the elk rut, and listening to migrating waterfowl. But, this is also the season of harvest. The freezer is now almost full – tomatoes, fresh basil pesto, red pepper pesto, fresh locally raised organic Berkshire pork, fresh chickens and we are waiting for our annual delivery of local lamb. As this season takes on its colours and unique smells, it’s time to try out new things. We are trying out some new sit-on kayaks that are very stable and could easily be used for wildlife viewing. We like what we are learning. Stay tuned for some new water-based experiences in 2013.
It was a perfect fall morning. Still, temperature a -3C˚frosty chill – the kind that even with gloves on, goes right into your bones. But, it was sunny. Five bull elk were bugling around us. Tracks and scats of moose, elk, and coyotes were on the trail. Several side trails led to locations where elk had been active in their harems during the previous night. Their smell was pungent and present everywhere. I love mornings like this. I had primed myself at 5:30 AM on an espresso, a banana, and a peanut butter sandwich. Joining a friend from Wisconsin, who has been returning to Riding Mountain National Park for over five years (we had guided her on her first wildlife photography excursion in 2005), we were meandering – looking for wild nature to photograph and video.
Earlier this spring, we had the privilege of hosting a number of tour operators and travel writers from India, China, England, and Japan. One of them, Hiroko Yoshizawa, who loves Canada (has come to Canada over 80 times in the last 20 years), loved the way that we explored and engaged with the nature experiences we provided.
But, my take-away from their visit was Hiroko’s thoughtful comment and appreciative smile, as she shared that this was very enjoyable for her. She called it “slow travel”. She said that she would share her experiences with her Japanese audience and help them understand that Earth Rhythms provides “Slow Travel experiences”.
As my friend from Wisconsin and I finished off our day of photographing, I suggested that we head out to another location where I would share with her a creek location that I often enjoy stopping and looking for wildlife. We were in luck – a raccoon was fishing in the creek. With full sunshine, and that low angle of sunlight that accompanies the fall season, we were able to capture photographs and video of a curious and well-adapted mammal that spends a lot of time close to water. Enjoy this short video.
I am currently helping Travel Manitoba to work with many different partners on the ground in several different locations throughout Manitoba to craft several new experiential itineraries that will be featured as part of the Rendezous Canada international buyers and sellers expo in May 2010.
Rendezvous Canada, organized by the Canadian Tourism Commission and partnered with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and Travel Manitoba, is the premiere annual show that brings national and international travel buyers and industry representatives together to sell unique Canadian travel experiences. May 8 – 12 is Rendezvous Canada in Winnipeg. Expect more than 800+ people to be present for this important travel industry event. I am very excited by the gems that are being “un-earthed” as we craft several new experiences. Several partners here in the Riding Mountain area are quite excited to be part of this unique opportunity. Stay tuned for more news about what we are learning and crafting!
From todays’ Winnipeg Free Press, an article by Nafeesa Syeed with the Associated Press shares the mood on the mall in Washington, D.C. and a story about the many people who have come to be part of the experience of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, an historical event. A small quote at the end of the article captures for me, the power of experience and why experiences are the “real stuff” of what we desire in travel today…
“World history teacher Calvin Adams of Arlington, Va., said he got up extra early so he could witness history being made first-hand and teach it to his classes. “Eventually I’ll teach American history,” said Adams, 23. “I’ll say, ‘This is how it works because I’ve been there, I’ve seen it.”‘
This is the power of experience, and what makes experiences authentic, memorable, and the real “take back” potential for good quality travel in which connections are made, emotions are felt, and transformation takes place. There is something incredibly powerful about this, and it carries the weight of responsibility with it – the need for us as tourism operators to develop quality experiences that are the very best that they can be.
Today, a group of us met in Dauphin, Manitoba to confirm planning arrangements for a number of unique experiences that will be taking place February 17 in Dauphin. A group of tourism operators coming from Atlantic Canada will be taking part in outdoor activities in Riding Mountain National Park on their way to Dauphin. They will visit a local honey producer, experience Ukrainian hospitality, cuisine, and music.
Earth Rhythms, specializing in the crafting of customized learning adventures, is hosting this Best Practices Mission. The participants in this week-long business development study trip will be taking part in a variety of Manitoba experiences to learn new aspects of experiential tourism product development, business partnerships, and will be doing so in a “hands-on” way with many of Earth Rhythms facilitators and partners. It’s great to see that Manitoba has an export product in the form of experiential tourism. We look forward to hosting these folks in mid-February.
I had the privilege of co-creating and delivering a workshop yesterday at the Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts (MICA) on the campus of Assiniboine Community College (ACC) in Brandon, Manitoba. In collaboration with faculty members Matt Otten and Joanne Canada-Somers and Kyle Zalluski, we provided about 50 students with opportunities to learn about climate change, and discuss the implications of what was learned in terms of their own lives and professions.
We then engaged the students in crafting an interactive lunch experience making two soups, fresh and warm tea biscuits, a salad with freshly-made dressing, angel food cake with fresh strawberries, and WOW, was it good! As much as possible, local foods from within a 100 mile radius were used. During the morning and lunch experience, we began the process of engaging students to tell their own story of what they are learning, and why tourism marketing today is so dependent on Internet technology. Using a new WordPress Blog, four students took photographs and wrote two articles that captured some of their learning, impressions, and their quotes. Well done!
This new blog served as a useful tool to discuss the implications of Web2.0 in tourism. We discussed how chefs in other places in the world are using blogs, and how different websites can convey the essence of the “culinary experience” by using effective photographs, videos, or well-written blogs. The afternoon discussion with our panel of student photographers and writers as well as the rest of the students and teachers reviewing the uploaded blog content was instructive and tangible – it was immediate feedback to everyone.
I provided a concluding presentation about experiential tourism including a few examples of the kinds of tourism experiences that Earth Rhythms is crafting. A facilitated student sharing circle at the end was powerful with insights about the impact of the day.
This is a very important audience. Students graduating from tourism and culinary schools today will be our leaders in restaurants and tourism enterprises in the future. They will be creating food experiences for travelers to Manitoba over the next generation. Being aware of the carbon footprint of food as part of the travel experience is one step towards developing food and tourism experiences that demonstrate sustainability. We look forward to finding ways to partner in business, with the students and faculty of MICA, to create new Manitoba cuisine. What a great introduction! Thank you.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada have an innovative tourism professional development program called Best Practices. “Such missions are designed to expose private sector operators and representatives of sustainable tourism communities to successful tourism operators/entrepreneurs and outstanding products and create an environment of ‘Competitiveness Through Best Practices.’ It is intended that this exposure will stimulate the generation of new product ideas, improved practices in customer service, innovative operational techniques, sound planning models and partnership opportunities for the Atlantic tourism sector.”
A group of seventeen operators will be coming to Riding Mountain National Park and to Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada to take part in a number of unique tourism experiences. They want to learn some new things about experiential tourism. The Manitoba Best Practices week-long Itinerary is rich with learning and unique Manitoba experiences in winter. Earth Rhythms is partnering with the Elkhorn Resort, the town of Dauphin, Festival du Voyageur, and Tourisme Riel to create and deliver these experiences in February, 2009. Who said that winter has limited tourism opportunities?
In today’s rapidly evolving business world, collaboration is key. A much bigger package of benefits results; work can be achieved efficiently; new markets can be reached; marketing and distribution costs are shared; everyone wins. The new mantra in tourism destination marketing is “Collaborate to Compete”.