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TIAO Highlights: Elevating Ontario Experiences

TIAO Highlights: Elevating Ontario Experiences
12 Jan 2023 by Simone Gonsalves

These past few months, TIAO has been working behind the scenes to execute a series of workshops titled Elevating Ontario Experiences!  

The Elevating Ontario Experiences project is building upon a previous successful project led by Destination Canada in 2019. We helped with the outreach as only 3 regions were available with that program. This year, we have the opportunity to engage new operators and communities - ensuring all regions in Ontario have the chance to participate in this project and work with industry experts such as the Culinary Tourism Alliance and BC Hughes to bring their tourism ideas to life and in drive economic growth for the province.

This project focuses on providing operators with knowledge of strategy development and tools to create or elevate an experience within winter/shoulder season or culinary activities, both in their business and region. Each participant receives 1:1 coaching to present their unique idea and apply the strategies learned, with the guidance and constructive feedback from the industry experts. 

As one of TIAO’s Special Projects Coordinators, I was excited to take the lead for this project. Since the sessions are tailored to each tourism region in Ontario, my role is to connect the Regional Tourism Organizations (RTOs) and tourism operators to the consultants. It's exciting getting to work alongside the RTOs to identify tourism businesses that show potential to grow their revenue and conduct outreach, inviting them to participate in these workshops. 

While in college, I learned a lot about economic development, the life cycle of a destination, and how to expand winter/shoulder season experiences – using case studies such as the Toronto Zoo to make data-based recommendations. These learnings helped to spark my interest in experience development. It's really interesting to watch the process from start to finish. A simple idea from a business becoming a revenue-generating experience. A group of 12 operators and these industry experts coming together to discuss and share unique ideas – you get to watch these operators have their “ah-ha!” moment and get inspired by simple idea sharing and having conversations with other businesses in their region.

These projects are necessary to the industry as it helps to identify areas of growth and development to expand Ontario’s tourism potential, while connecting local businesses together, engaging them in meaningful peer-to-peer discussions, collaborations, and capacity building. Without these projects, operators may not recognize industry trends, potential partnerships, and how to utilize their regions assets and unique selling points year-round.