Excursion: Vancouver, March 2016
Tourism Development Studies
"Go students go!"
On March 8th 2016 the first group of 12 TDS master’s students together with Prof. Dr. Thomas Rasmussen, started their journey to North America. Three days later, after having attended the ITB, the remaining 18 master students, accompanied by Ms. Wallenburger and Prof. Dr. Strauch, joined the first group in Vancouver. The overall excursion was set to be 10 days for everyone, however, most students took the chance to stay longer in Canada and explore the country on their own.
Arriving in Vancouver, we were greeted by grey skies and rain, however, in the last days of our excursion Vancouver presented itself with sunshine and warm temperatures. Due to our relatively large group size of 34 master students, we were divided into two groups for some appointments, for the convenience of the business partners. The two groups, therefore, had the individual appointments on different dates, ranging from one up to three appointments a day. For the sake of the reader we decided to group the different business appointments into the categories of “Destination Management”, “Leisure Management”, and “Environmental Management”.
Within this category we grouped appointments which showed us how the destination of Canada, British Columbia as well as Vancouver was developed and marketed over the years and especially after the Olympics in 2010 in terms of their benefits and impacts in the destination. Moreover, future strategies to attract new target groups while simultaneously balancing the needs of locals, first nations and visitors were one of the most important topics during these appointments.
Mr. Chris Fair, president of the Resonance Consultancy, gave us an overview in his presentation on how a medium sized company can create and execute destination management plans for destinations of all varieties, ranging from city destination like Vancouver to Caribbean island destinations. He stressed throughout his presentation the importance of data analysis and primary research to create a successful management plan to reach the right target groups.
The presentation of Mr. Walt Judas, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC), focused on the development of Vancouver and British Columbia as a tourism destination in the last years. Moreover, he highlighted the role of the TIABC as an ombudsman between its members, different tourism related companies, and the governmental body of the province of British Columbia as well as Canada.
We furthermore had the opportunity to meet with representatives of two destination marketing organisations in Canada. Our first meeting was with Mr. Ty Speer, President & CEO, and Ms. Ainsley Dixon, Sales & Marketing Development, from Tourism Vancouver, which’s main focus lies on marketing the destination of Vancouver. The second meeting in this area was with Destination BC, where Ms. Sabrina Robson, Marketing Coordinator, gave us an overview on the destination marketing activities for not just Vancouver, but the whole province of British Columbia. Both organisations work in a similar way, differing only in the scope of their focus. Interestingly, Destination BC underwent a revitalisation of its brand, implemented in 2015, changing not only their vision and mission but also their overall image database and approach to marketing the province of British Columbia.
Going away from the theoretical background of managing a destination, we had the opportunity to gain an insight on the practical aspects of working in the tourism sector through the following company visits:
The Hotel Fairmont Waterfront as well as the Rogers Arena gave us the opportunity to get a behind the scenes experience of both companies, highlighting what they do for their customers and their operations. In comparison to the exclusive 5***** Hotel with its sustainable philosophy, Oscar Duran (Rogers Arena) presented how to make money by offering fan services better than expected with his mantra to “always under-promise and over-deliver”. Furthermore, the Whistler Sport Legacies introduced us to the development undertaken in preparation for the Olympic Winter Games in 2010 and how they still benefit from this event by offering customer experiences such as, luge and bob at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations presented overall information of the province of British Columbia, its land use and products, such as the different trail-networks for tourists/locals/first nations as well as the protection of landscape, resources and animals, for example through monitoring and preventing hunting and forest fires. Furthermore, the business meeting with the Vancouver Board of Trade confirmed the topics already mentioned, especially with the practiceexample of the oil-industry.
Apart from the business side, Mrs. Alison Gill (Ph.D.) professor at the Simon Fraser University, held a lecture on the development of the tourist destination Whistler, from the quiet new perspective of the evolutionary economic geography view of destination development. A completely different impression of how leisure activities such as skating can be creatively implemented into cities was given by the architecture business of Stantec. The issue of transportation and access in the industry- and tourismsector at the same time, were shown by the representative Port Metro Vancouver.
To sum it all up, we had the opportunity to gain an in-depth insight on the different industries in the area of Vancouver, not just from a tourism perspective, but overall. Repeating themes of most company visits where the issues of sustainability, which is of high importance for Vancouver, as its aims to become the greenest city worldwide by 2020, the co-operation with the First Nations, as well as the problem of underemployment in the tourism sector, leading to the dire need of labour for this industry in peak times.
Highlights of our leisure time activities
Apart from the numerous company visits, we had the opportunity to not just explore Vancouver, but spend a weekend in the winter sport resort Whistler, where some of us used the opportunity to engage in winter sport activities like skiing, snowboarding and snow-tubing. Back in Vancouver one of the highlights was the visit to an ice-hockey game of the Vancouver Canucks where everyone was cheering on the team with “Go Canucks! Go!”. Furthermore, we could celebrate St. Patricks Day in Vancouver. The time balance between the business meetings and our leisure time offered the possibility for everyone to experience the destination individually. The excursion was brought to a nice end with a last drink together were we could look back on the past days and share our plans for the upcoming individual trips through Canada.
The whole trip has left us with so many great emotions, beautiful memories and, most importantly, the knowledge, experience and information obtained directly and exclusively from the organizations and companies itself.
Thank you for this exciting and enriching academic excursion!
Melanie Härtel and Sandra Büttner, Tourism Development Strategies, 2ndSemester