Pineapples in Nova Scotia? Recognize the Professionals Making a Lasting Impression


What would you think if I told you that pineapples make me think about Nova Scotia? Yes, you read that correctly. Our province with the seemingly endless coastline and four distinct seasons also has pineapples. Not in the traditional way mind you, but they do flourish throughout our tourism industry.

Pineapples are a centuries old international symbol of greeting and generous hospitality. The actual fruit may need a tropical climate to grow, but Nova Scotian pineapples sprout from the best of our famous maritime hospitality through the Pineapple Award Program. From my perspective, pineapples equate to people, and the people who live and work here are what make Nova Scotia the best place to be. For the past nine years I have been proud to manage this one of a kind Canadian service program that recognizes front line service staff and celebrates their extraordinary commitment to visitors, and I invite you to join in the appreciation.

Pineapple Award Winner 2013

Pineapple Award Winner 2013

The role of the tourism professional is an extremely important one; we set the tone for hospitality in our province. Sometimes there are opportunities to surprise a visitor or customer with some extraordinary service or an act of kindness. This is simply doing what Nova Scotians do best; listening to what people say, and may not say, in order to make them feel appreciated and respected like we do with family. This “going the extra mile” is what the Pineapple Award Program encourages and celebrates.

So who are some of the past winners of the Pineapple Awards?  They include:

  • A tour guide who rallied local fisherman to dive into the Atlantic Ocean to retrieve an heirloom earing for a visitor from Florida without being asked to do so.
  • How about the catering company winner who saved the wedding day for one couple by last minute hand-picking enough strawberries for an entire wedding?
  • Or the owners of cottages who lent their personal vehicle to a family at no charge so they could finish out the rest of their vacation after their own vehicle broke down.
  • And we can’t forget about the Bed & Breakfast operators who stayed by a guest’s side during numerous hospital and specialist appointments after the guest received some troubling news while here on vacation.

You can read more stories from past winners here.

Pineapple Award Winners 2013

Pineapple Award Winners 2013

Making an extra effort can come in an infinite variety of actions. We want to recognize the extraordinary service performed here by our tourism professionals. Tooting our own horn may seem to be opposite of how Nova Scotians typically act, but it’s high time to praise and commend the actions of our peers. We want to hear about your service stories!

How do you do this? It’s simple. You can:

  • Fill out the online nomination form
  • Submit to us the stories that have been submitted through your own comment system
  • Call or email us directly with your story
  • Display the Nova Scotia Pineapple Awards ballots at your place of business
  • Nominate a co-worker who shows exemplary service skills to internal and external customers
  • Tell visitors what the pineapple represents, its maritime history, and how they can participate. Encourage them to take a ballot or fill out the nomination form on the TIANS website

Remember, the more detailed the nomination the better.

Pineapple Award Winner 2013

Pineapple Award Winner 2013

We invite you to be part of a campaign that promotes, recognizes and rewards service excellence to Nova Scotia’s 5.2 Million visitors per year and associates you and your company with service excellence.

Contact Jennifer Falkenham at (902) 496-7474 or (800) 948-4267 or for more information on this Province wide service recognition program and to get involved.

Written by: Jennifer Falkenham

Pineapple Awards

Pineapple Awards





Members in Your Neighbourhood Blog Series

Rewarding, challenging, progressive, and influential. These are some of the words I regularly hear used to describe careers in Nova Scotia tourism. Today TIANS is introducing a blog series that will put a spotlight on the business operations of tourism, and the various career options within the industry. This “Members in Your Neighbourhood” series will feature non-filtered information from TIANS members through an interview question format. Our goal is that it will address similar questions you may have surrounding business and the industry, while getting you to think about tourism as a career.

Alicion Bed & Breakfast

Alicion Bed & Breakfast

The first installment in this series focuses on a small business owner in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Lorne and Janet Johanson are proprietors of Alicion Bed and Breakfast. They have joined a dynamic group of intrepid Westerners lured East by the charm and beauty of the Maritimes. Alicion Bed and Breakfast practices an emerging trend in the evolution of eco-friendly Bed and Breakfasts. While embracing green products and practices, Lorne and Janet honour and commit to the preservation of their estate. They have created a fresh new look combining historic charm with vibrant decor and are striving to provide an environmentally friendly experience without compromising comfort. Recipients of the 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, these small business owners take pride in making their guests experience a memorable one.

Janey & Lorne Johanson

Janet & Lorne Johanson

Our interviewee, Lorne Johanson, has a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management, and holds a position on the TIANS Board of Directors and is the Past President of the Lunenburg Board of Trade. Without further ado, I present Lorne’s interview:

1. Walk me through the basic step-by-step outline that you went through to get your business to where it is today. What was the first thing you did? Next?

This question would require hours and considerable research to answer fully and honestly.

In brief, we did the following:
a. Investigated requirements to establish a business in NS.
b. Acquired a business license
c. Registered with various government organizations for submitting monthly occupancy reports, taxes, etc.
d. Established an HST account
e. Set up accounting templates
f. Joined various tourism agencies
g. Created a website
h. Developed critical relationships in the business community

2.  How long were you running your business before you started paying yourself? What strategies did you use for the first few months/years to ensure economic stability?

We started to pay ourselves minimal remuneration the second year of business however, the business is heavily burdened by expenses and as such, return has remained at a low level. We both have additional jobs to supplement our income.

3. What are your business’s three highest expenses?

a. Property tax
b. Utilities
c. Food

4. What would you consider to be the best thing you’ve invested in on behalf of your business?

There is no single investment that stands out. Our web-site would be one of the most important ones.

5. How many employees do you have? What strategies do you use to find and retain your employees?

We have one part-time employee. We pay our employee a competitive wage and treat her with respect.

6. In your opinion, what marketing strategies have given you your best return on investment?

Internet exposure.

7. How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?

This question is complex and would require an essay.
Clearly there will be an incremental impact from all the above. Specific examples of negative impacts would be the multiple layers of tourism organizations and government that does not understand the importance of tourism or invest adequately in marketing the Province.

8. Is there a current issue or trend in the Nova Scotia tourism industry that is impacting your business? Is it a positive or negative impact?

Third party booking organizations pressure small business to comply with them and diminish profits. NSTA has partnered with such an organization to the detriment of all.

9. Whom do you seek advice from for your business?

Peers, accountant, and organization business workshops.

10. Can you please describe your customers for us?

Tourists, couples, middle age.

11. What do you consider your most innovative idea for competing in the global market place?

Establishing a single organization with private industry checks and balances that will devote all available funding to attract tourists to Nova Scotia in the highly competitive global industry.

12. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice about getting into the tourism industry and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?

Reach out in creative ways, to inspire and generate interest. Do market research.

13. Do you have a succession plan for your business? If so, what is that plan?

To sell in 3-4 years.

14. Why does everyone need to come to your business?

We offer one of the finest experiences available in this field. Comfort and customer service.

15. Do you use any of the TIANS benefits for members? If so, what is the one that in your opinion gives you the best return on                 investment?

Communications, conferences, workshops and networking opportunities.

16. Which Quality Program do you currently belong to?

Nova Scotia Approved, Tourism 1 to 1 Mentorship, Marketing and Best Practices Information

Written by: Jennifer Falkenham

Change the Conversation – A Call to Action


“How we talk about something is as important as what we say.”

Tourism works for Nova Scotia. In terms of economic development, innovation, and labour there is no other industry above tourism in Nova Scotia. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. If the 40, 000 plus Nova Scotians working in tourism all worked together in one building, politicians and the public alike would be astounded by the enormity and influence of the industry. In fact $225 million in tax revenues were generated by the tourism industry in 2012. That money strengthens and sustains our communities and contributes directly to healthcare, education, and infrastructure. What that means is tourism impacts the daily life of each person in this province. Tourism undeniably matters and we need your help to tell the Tourism story in Nova Scotia and invite a deeper conversation.

We all have a role to play, so will you join the movement? Tourism professionals know how to inspire and it’s our responsibility to Change the Conversation. We need to tell our story in a more powerful way because a good story, a really good story, changes the way people think and feel. It connects the audience to how this matters to them. And once they care, they will engage.

Change the Conversation Workshop

Change the Conversation Workshop

Over the past year, TIANS has been working to develop a new communication strategy to help us increase the dialogue around tourism in the province. Since January in partnership with the Regional Tourism Industry Associations we have held a series of interactive sessions introducing a consistent message for how to speak to your stakeholders in a way that positions tourism as a key part of the economic solution for rural and urban economies. The first three workshops were held during Destination Southwest Nova’s Industry Cafe’s at Atlantica Hotel & Marina Oak Island, Old Orchard Inn Wolfville, and Rodd Grand Hotel Yarmouth.  The second leg of these workshops are ongoing; last week we partnered with Destination Cape Breton at the Days Inn Sydney, and with Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores at the Claymore Inn Antigonish. Tomorrow in partnership with Central Nova Tourism Association we will be at the Glooscap Heritage Centre in Truro. This series will continue throughout the province in 2014.

Change the Conversation Workshop

Change the Conversation Workshop

We invite the tourism industry to join us for these workshops focused on how to tell a new story about the business impact of tourism in Nova Scotia, through the lenses of economic development, innovation and labour. This session will help you talk about the business of tourism in a new way that will resonate with other business owners in your community, government, media, customers, or your neighbours.  See the February dates and locations for the Change the Conversation sessions listed at the bottom on this blog post and through the TIANS website. TIANS will communicate the future 2014 dates for this workshop and will look forward to seeing you there. Together we can elevate the profile of tourism provincially and federally!

Upcoming session dates and locations:

  • Wednesday, February 26th – Glooscap Heritage Centre – Annex Building, Truro – 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • April 2014 – Halifax – Details TBA
  • Thursday, May 22nd – Pictou Lodge Resort during the TIANS AGM

Written by: Jennifer Falkenham

Tourism Champion Blog 8 – A New Growth Industry for Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s culture is as vast and diverse as its coast line.  The contributions of people from varied ancestry, sewn together through a common thread of having a better life, helped shape this marvelous province into what it is now. Since our earliest days, African Culture has woven a rich tapestry of history that continues in Nova Scotia today.

With globalization taking place, the challenge of preserving and sharing Nova Scotia’s cultural communities with the world is even more important than ever. Cultural tourists are an exciting new market, and they spend substantially more than standard tourists do. Our latest Tourism Champion blogger Russell Grosse, Executive Director of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, explores these topics and more as he shares with us a glimpse into our vibrant past along with his views on innovation and growth of African Nova Scotian cultural tourism – A New Growth Industry for Nova Scotia.

We encourage you to expand your own understanding of Nova Scotia’s history by exploring both the struggles and triumphs of all Nova Scotians.  The Black Cultural Centre For Nova Scotia, and many other culture centric locations throughout the province, are waiting for you to come and share in the story of our diverse history.

Click here to view the Cultural Assets of Nova Scotia – African Nova Scotian Tourism Guide

A New Growth Industry for Nova Scotia

Written by: Russell Grosse, Executive Director of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia and Chair of the African Nova Scotian Cultural Tourism Network

The tourism industry in Nova Scotia in 2013 was said to have contributed over 2 billion dollars to the economics of the province. Visitors to Atlantic Canada’s Ocean Playground, enjoy the rugged coast line of Peggy’s Cove, the vastness of the Cabot Trail, the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy, the majestic view of the Halifax town clock at sunrise, the shore lines of Lunenburg, home to Canada’s icon the Bluenose. Tourists enjoy our rich Celtic music heritage or the famous mouth-watering taste of blueberry grunt, Digby scallops, fiddleheads, Annapolis valley apples or lobster from the sea that surrounds us. Nova Scotia has a rich history, steeped in inspiration and remarkable adversity. Tourism in this province is a unique growth industry, and is the life blood of Canada’s second smallest province.

The majority of the tourism fare in Nova Scotia is based on traditional tourism methods. Methods which are focused mainly on accommodations and attractions, promoting the rich history of the province through iconic and historical destinations. A new trend that is on the horizon and is quickly becoming a new growth industry in North America is cultural tourism. In short Cultural Tourism is tourism that is focused on the culture, genealogy, heritage, religion, and lifestyle of people in a geographic area or community, both past and present. Cultural tourism is about creating an experience, sharing intimate details of one’s culture and heritage.

African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia Executive Committee 1919

African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia Executive Committee 1919

Nova Scotia’s tourism industry is in a unique position, to harness the new growth industry of Cultural Tourism through sharing the rich and little known history of African Nova Scotians. Peoples of African descent are a vibrant part of Nova Scotia’s past; these individuals made Nova Scotia home and contributed to the fabric and success of today’s province. Nova Scotia can be said to be the birth place of Black Culture and heritage in Canada, boasting the largest indigenous Black community in Canada. Black’s came to Nova Scotia as enslaved labour in 1782 and 1784 as Black Loyalists. The Jamaican Maroons, a people who were exiled from their home lands in 1796, also made Nova Scotia home, being credited for building Halifax’s military fort the Citadel Hill. Nova Scotia was also the home of the Chesapeake migrants of the War of 1812 as well as Caribbean immigrants in 1890. Today these rich settlers make up the African Nova Scotia community and today over 300 years later, call Nova Scotia home. They settled in 52 historic communities, such as some of the well-known communities of Shelburne, Africville, East Preston, Annapolis Royal, Cherry Brook, Halifax, Sydney, Springhill, North Preston, and Beechville to name a few.

Newly Renovated Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

Newly Renovated Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

In 1983 the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia, a provincially mandated organization that has a focus on protecting, preserving and promoting Black culture in Nova Scotia, opened the doors of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia. The Centre which has been in operation for the past 31 years, provides a unique experience in chronicling the history of Blacks and their impact on the building of the society of this province. Over the years the landscape of sharing the history and achievements of African Nova Scotians has grown, from the establishment of such organizations as the Black Loyalist Heritage Society in Shelburne, Africville Genealogy Society in Halifax, or facilities such as the United Negro Improvement Association Hall in Glace Bay. Community development organizations such as the Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association and the Cumberland African Nova Scotia Association developed heritage trails and other cultural resources. Nova Scotia is poised to be an industry leader in North America in the new growth market of Cultural Tourism. The ability to share and inspire, to be a part of the fabric that makes Nova Scotia diverse is something we all should embrace.

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

In 2010, various community and cultural heritage stakeholders of the African Nova Scotia community embarked on a trade mission to Virginia, South Carolina to explore the cultural and historical linkages between Nova Scotia and the historical southern state of America. They shared the bond that was linked so many years ago with the migration of Blacks to this province, they also discovered that there was a desire of Americans to learn more about Nova Scotia and Canada. The Americans shared that they were not aware that Nova Scotia had a Black community let alone a history that is over 300 years old, not to mention the genealogical ties between the two areas. Later the next year, Nova Scotia hosted for the first time in Canada the African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference (2011) , at which time the Government of Nova Scotia partnered with the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia to renovate and update the museum exhibits and interpretation. Attendees at the conference were from 29 different countries shared in the richness of a little known part of Nova Scotia and Canada’s history.

During this month (February) which is also African Heritage Month, the community partners and stakeholders of the African Nova Scotia community are pleased to introduce the African Nova Scotian Cultural Tourism Network. This network made up of representatives from across the province will work to foster innovative growth in African Nova Scotian cultural tourism. As well as to promote Nova Scotias rich cultural assets. This significant step will ensure that the tourism industry in Nova Scotia is ready and able to meet the demands of a growing cultural tourism market.

Explore the little known part of Nova Scotia’s vibrant past. Visit one of the many locations through the province that share Nova Scotia history and culture, such as the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.

It is our hope that in years to come African Nova Scotian or Black History will be known as Nova Scotia history, a shared history we can all celebrate and be part of.

Post Note:
Russell Grosse is the Incoming Executive Director of the Black Cultural Centre and Chair of the African Nova Scotian Cultural Tourism Network. The Black Cultural Centre is open to the public during February and March: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am – 3pm, admission fees apply.

Join us on February 19th (Black Cultural Centre) or 26th (Africville Museum) at 11am for an industry information session on the African Nova Scotian Cultural Tourism Network. Visit the office of African Nova Scotia Affairs website ( for a complete list of February African Heritage month activities.

Introduction written by: Jennifer Falkenham

In Your Own Words – 2013 TIANS Tourism Summit

2013 Tourism Summit - Getting Back to Business

2013 Tourism Summit – Getting Back to Business

It is indeed a charmed life in Nova Scotia. I could write endlessly about the affinity I have for this province and the people who choose to live and work here in the tourism industry. Since it’s the season for caring and sharing, I thought I would give the gift of sharing some of the good energy I am lucky to be a part of.

In my role as Membership Coordinator at TIANS, I get to connect with people from every area of this province who continually invigorate me through their creativity, innovation, passion, and storytelling.   This time of year is the annual TIANS Tourism Summit; I returned from maternity leave weeks before this grand event so you can imagine my excitement at being able to dive back into my work from a spring-board of electrifying tourism professionals and knowledge sharing. During the Summit I picked the brains of some of the delegates and am pleased to bring their thoughts to you, in their own words.

2013 TIANS Tourism Summit

2013 TIANS Tourism Summit

The delegates were all asked the same two questions:

1.         What is tourism to you?
2.         Why are you attending the TIANS Tourism Summit?

Without further ado, I present to you their answers.

Name: Shawn Dunlop
Business:  Dunlop Inn Inc.
Location: Baddeck, Cape Breton

“Tourism is a lifestyle and a way to make a living. I can keep myself employed and employ other people from my community.” 

“Coming to the TIANS Tourism Summit is the best investment I make all year! This is my 20th year participating and there’s always value to attending. It’s where I can load up on information, find out what’s going on now and for the upcoming season, and to promote my business.” 

Keynote Speaker: Tim Magwood of The Mark of a Leader

2013 Tourism Summit Keynote Speaker: Tim Magwood of The Mark of a Leader

Name: David Beattie
Business:  The Gillespie House Inn
Location: Parrsboro

“I see myself as a tourist, and not as a business owner. Tourism to me is new places, new people, new food, and new experiences.” 

“I come to the Summit to network and meet people. Participation in industry events, leads to more participation from the industry in terms of my business throughout the year.”

2013 Tourism Summit

2013 Tourism Summit

Name: Bruce Bishop
Business: Bruce Bishop Communications Ltd.
Location: Yarmouth

“Tourism is educating myself about the world. It’s about learning. As a travel writer for 13 years, I’ve learned so much about the world and especially about our country and province and why we are the best in the world.” 

“I come to see and meet people I may not get to otherwise, and to learn from and with them. To gather new ideas and see what other operators in the province are doing. I also attend the Tourism Summit because I am very proud of this province and I want to spread the word about my corner of it; Yarmouth and Acadian Shores.”

2013 Tourism Summit

2013 Tourism Summit

Name: Larry and Ann MacCormack
Business:  Tulips & Thistle Bed & Breakfast, and NSBBA (Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association) President and Trail Director
Location: Truro

Tourism to us is a lifestyle choice. It’s all about love; love for what you do, love for this province, and love to make other people happy.” 

“We attend the Summit to recharge and re-energize after the peak season. It helps us to not lose sight of our part of the bigger tourism picture in NS.” 

2013 Tourism Summit, Smores Station

2013 Tourism Summit – Smores Station at The Prince George Hotel Reception

Name: Krista Clarke
Business: Hampton Inn by Hilton
Location: Membertou, Cape Breton

“Tourism to me is a total experience. Highlighting the uniqueness of our property and surrounding area in order to give the guest lasting memories and make them want to return.”

“I’m new to the industry and this is my first time at the Tourism Summit.  I’ve come to gain knowledge and expertise; to hear the guest speakers, connect with people, and partake in some hospitality myself.”

2013 Tourism Summit Silent Auction for Tourism Scholarships

2013 Tourism Summit – Silent Auction for Tourism Scholarships

Name: Anne McDonah
Business:  NSCC Teacher, Pictou Campus and The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast
Location: Pictou and Truro

“Tourism to me is about people.  It’s a lifestyle, and it’s about humility; you can’t be afraid to do what you have to do in order to serve people to the best of your ability.” 

“I attend the conference because it’s a great way to connect with the people in the Nova Scotia tourism industry.  There’s such a great energy when we come together, and it’s fun!”

2013 Tourism Summit - Opening Reception

2013 Tourism Summit – Opening Reception

Name: Angela Doiron
Business:  Lahave River Campground, and COANS (Campground Owners Association of Nova Scotia) Vice President
Location: Newburne, Lunenburg County

“Tourism to us is touring, travel, vacation, relaxation, culture, and food.”

“This is our first year attending the TIANS Summit. We’re here to get information, meet people in the industry, and partake in some free drinks, food and goodies.  I’ve even connected with someone from High School I hadn’t seen in over 27 years!”

2013 Tourism Summit -Business to Business Trade Show at Casino Nova Scotia

2013 Tourism Summit -Business to Business Trade Show at Casino Nova Scotia

Name: Ruth Mailloux
Business: Suncatcher Bed & Breakfast
Location: Truro

“Tourism is hospitality. It’s about bringing in revenue and being able to making a living doing something you’re passionate about.”

“I come to the conference to connect with people and learn new things. I deserve it; it’s a present I give to myself for a job well done during the season.”      

2013 Tourism Summit - Bruce and Dillon Guthro performing at the Gala Dinner

2013 Tourism Summit – Bruce and Dylan Guthro performing at the Crystal Tourism Awards of Excellence

Name: Ralf Pickart
Business:  QVisto Inc. – Nova Scotia Webcams
Location:  Halifax

“Tourism to me is an opportunity to work.”  

“I attend the Summit for the business to business relationships and make contacts to build relationships on.”

2013 Tourism Summit

2013 Tourism Summit

Name: Wes Surrett
Business: Pictou Lodge Beach Resort 
Location: Pictou

“To me, Tourism is the act of experiencing a people’s culture and place. Whether that be down the road experiencing your neighbour’s home, food, and family traditions or visiting the other side of the world.”

“I attended the TIANS conference to: firstly reconnect with friends and network with other industry colleagues, to see the provincial direction on marketing directives so that our marketing materials may be in sync with provincial direction, to attend mini-sessions and absorb any useful operating information, and to be re-energized, motivated, and inspired.”

2013 Tourism Summit - Communities In Bloom Winners

2013 Tourism Summit – Communities In Bloom Winners with TIANS Chairman of the Board

Names: Autumn and McKenzie
Business:  First Year NSCC Students at Akerely Campus, and Tourism Summit Volunteers
Location: Dartmouth

Autumn – “Tourism to me is fun. It’s the experiences you have while travelling.” 

McKenzie – “Tourism is great customer service, making people happy.”

When asked why they are attending the Tourism Summit they collectively answered – “To meet people, maybe our future bosses!”

2013 Tourism Summit - Business to Business Expo at Casino Nova Scotia

2013 Tourism Summit – Business to Business Expo at Casino Nova Scotia

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

We’d like to extend a special thank you to our partners and encourage everyone to visit the 2013 Tourism Summit website to view the presentations that have been posted.

As a final thought, let me ask  you the reader:

1. What is tourism to you?
2. Why did you attend the 2013 TIANS Tourism Summit?

We look forward to seeing your answers in the comment box below.

2013 Tourism Summit - Crystal Tourism Awards of Excellence

2013 Tourism Summit – Crystal Tourism Awards of Excellence

Written by:  Jennifer Falkenham


Tourism Champion Blog 7 – Recognizing Excellence, A story of a Hospitality Hero

The Tourism Industry is all about people!

Often it is the people working behind the scenes that are having the greatest impact on our business success. Recognizing the importance of these people and the impact they have on the business culture is key to building strong teams that deliver the very best in customer service! Judy Stone, the 2nd Executive Housekeeper in Canada to earn the prestigious Director of Housekeeping designation, has recently received global recognition for her commitment to the Industry and the people she works with. The following article was written about her by Phyllis Stephenson, General Manager at Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel and we are very pleased to share this story of excellence as a feature of our Champions Blog – enjoy!

Judy Stone

Every once-in-a-career a General Manager is blessed to hire a Manager who makes a difference; not just in their hotel, but in their lives. Judy Stone is that Manager.  Since the day Judy came to the BEST WESTERN PLUS Chocolate Lake as our Director of Housekeeping, she has created a culture of Heroic Hospitality throughout the entire hotel.

Judy starts everyday by greeting each of her employees with her infectious smile at her morning “huddle.” Here is where she gets her staff pumped up for their shift by sharing best practices as it relates to any challenges that are anticipated, solicits their ideas for any special guest requests that have been recorded, and to celebrate any personal successes or milestones that members of her team have accomplished. Her enthusiasm is contagious and it ensures her crew heads out to their rooms with a sense of pride and determination making sure that each and every guest is satisfied with every aspect of their stay!


Judy now “makes her rounds.” This involves a visit to our lobby where she greets each guest that she sees with the same sincere smile that her staff receives. She genuinely cares when she asks our guests if they are enjoying their stay. By listening intently and asking questions, she is able to anticipate any potential problems with any part of their stay. If she detects an issue, she now makes it her personal mission to fix it before it becomes a problem. This was evident just recently when an elderly guest had mentioned that his wife was frail and had a problem with heavy doors. Judy called the maintenance department immediately and had them make some minor adjustments to their guest room door. The guest was none the wiser, but it made the door easier to open and it avoided a potential issue. Next on her rounds, is her daily check-in with each department. The kitchen is checked to make sure they have all the cleaning supplies they need, and that their rags have been returned from laundry, clean and fresh. On to the restaurant to make sure staff are getting their linen napkins in a timely manner and to check and see if the carpet or chairs need shampooing after a particularly busy dinner the night before. Now it’s off to the front desk to make sure the communication channels are wide open. Maintenance is next as she is the Yin to their Yang.

BW ROE 2013 - 2

As Judy makes her way back to the housekeeping department she can be seen “thanking” the departing guests for staying with us. And if she isn’t thanking the guests for staying with us, she is thanking her hard-working team, milling about the hotel, for doing the wonderful job that they do, day in and day out.

Since her first day of work, Judy has been building a team of incredible hospitality stars that produce exceptional results. She has created a remarkable, loyal staff that wants to be part of her crew. She motivates and inspires them through her own actions. She would never ask anyone to do something that she herself wouldn’t or couldn’t do. Judy rolls up her sleeves and cleans the early departure room, folds the laundry when it becomes too much for the team to keep up with and mops the floor if she sees a dangerous spill – all this to ensure she gets her team to the finish line on time, each day. Her dedication to her team was never more evident than during the Metro Transit Strike last year. As the majority of her housekeeping team relies on public transit to get to and from work, the strike was a potential financial disaster for her hardworking employees. Not being able to get to work would mean not getting a pay check. What Judy did, will never be forgotten by her team or by anyone here at Chocolate Lake. Each morning she went and picked up a car load of her employees, brought them to work and then went and got another car load of staff. At the end of each day, she would drive a group home, come back and get another car load and drive them home as well. The strike lasted 6 weeks – and so did Judy’s Personal Bus Service!!


Judy’s dedication and commitment to this industry was recognized in 2011 when was she was invited to Ottawa, our nation’s capital, to help develop the national occupational standards for the emerit Certification classification of “Director of Housekeeping.” This was developed through partnerships between government and industry. These standards are recognized as the best available resources for the tourism and hospitality sector in Canada. Judy can hold her head high, knowing that she is one of only 4 people in North America to be certified as a “Director of Housekeeping.”


TIANS along with its subsidiary, the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC), have valued Judy as a respected supporter for years. Judy is a huge backer of their programs and works with them tirelessly to ensure all of her staff go through the program. By doing so, her team is demonstrating their competency and they are meeting the job standards set by the industry. In May of this year, the Best Western PLUS Chocolate Lake Hotel was recognized at NSTHRC’s Annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner. This event celebrates industry professionals who have earned their emerit National Certification in their respective occupations. We were singled out as the only property in Nova Scotia to achieve a 100% certification designation in a Housekeeping Department. We were awarded a Property Recognition Award of Excellence as an organization who has significantly supported their staff in earning their credentials. I credit this award as a glowing endorsement of Judy’s dedication and leadership within the industry and the community.

Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC)

I can’t think of anyone in my 25 year hospitality career that is more deserving of a Heroic Hospitality Star Award, than Judy Stone. My belief is quite simple: actions define who we are, and talking is not enough, doing is what counts. Judy is a doer. Moreover, as the famous quote goes: “Well done, is better than well said.”

Phyllis Stephenson, General Manager
Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel


If we build it, will they come?


TIANS Member Janet Wilkinson, owner and operator of Cranberry Campground shares her experience with expanding her privately owned campground.

In the beginning, we were operating a 35 campsite which was developed back in the day when an 18 foot travel trailer was considered a “luxury.” For the first five years of business, we had a minimum of 35 campsites, and were doing what we could to enhance the property by clearing the grounds for vibrant green grass, adding a pool and updating all the plumbing – at that time the list seemed endless. Whatever way we looked at these expenses, it all became clear, that with only 35 campsites, our operating expenses would always outweigh our revenue generated. We needed to expand in order to justify our investment because we knew that we had to share our campground with more visitors to increase our revenue stream. When talking about investing into an accommodation, it isn’t that cut and dry for those of us in the seasonal line of work. You end up asking yourself questions like:

• How do we increase traffic to our campground?
• How do we keep visitors coming?
• How can we afford an expansion?


For those of you unfamiliar with seasonal business, a season, in most cases, is approximately five months in length and in those five months the saying “make hay while the sun is shining” holds true. Everyone here has to work hard because we need to ensure that we generate enough revenue to pay for business costs in that short period of time. To ensure that we are being as hospitable as possible, we ensure that our guests feel relaxed while at our campground and in return, we hope that this hospitality will positively affect our bottom line.


When I first thought about investing in our campground, I created a list of reasons why I should invest from a visitor’s point of view.

1. We are located along the sunrise trail route 245, halfway between Antigonish and New Glasgow, and have the “mini Cabot Trail” along the same route. The route is a beautiful scenic drive with so many views and attractions. I think of it as the gateway to Cape Breton and perhaps even Newfoundland.
2. We have 2.6 miles of beautiful water frontage.
3. Our harbour, which boasts beautiful sunsets, wildlife from Blue Herons to Bald Eagles and tiny islands, is rich in Native history and is perfect to explore by canoe or kayak and of course, there are plenty of fish in our waters.
4. We’re just minutes away from the beautiful Big Island Beach, a quiet getaway with warm waters of the Northumberland Strait feeding into it.
5. We are home to protected wetlands – a cranberry bog.
6. Pictou and Antigonish Counties are hosts to many festivals and events in the peak months, which have proven to be most popular amongst tourists. i.e. the Highland Games and the Music Jubilee.
7. Trends – the rise in RV sales is evident – an affordable summer home on wheels sure beats the commitment of a cottage.


Trends in my opinion are the most important factor I used to validate our investment when expanding our campground. With RV sales steadily increasing each year, it was easy to justify the investment in our campground because we knew it would pay off based on the trends we had analyzed.

Our plan for the foreseeable future was to open the season with 40 new fully serviced campsites! We had to spend a lot of money if we wanted to get underway. This first step was to create a design for our campground and then for our investment, we spent thousands of dollars on 40 posts with power, water and of course, sewer connection. Investment would also include a new well and water system, with enough water pressure for our 40 new campsites. We made sure that all campsites would abide by the tourist regulations act which calls for each campsite to be 2400 square feet. And finally, we created a layout that would allow each trailer to have a beautiful view of the water.


As the ground work started, Nova Scotia Power set up scopes while our well was being drilled and sewer systems were being built. In the wake of the serious upgrade to our campground, we also began the task of having a website developed as well as creating a new logo to enhance our brand.

After all was said and done and the campground renovations were complete, this thought constantly occupied my thoughts during the winter, “If we build it, they will come…” After all our hard work, the visitors had to come!

As the spring rolled in, I would have the answer to my resounding question soon enough. My list of prospective seasonal campers was growing and the load of worry I was carrying around with me was lessening. It was almost time for the real work to begin; the day-to-day operations were just around the corner!


Now, with the 2013 season upon us, we will be a Campground with a whopping 105 serviced sites, and 10 tenting campsites! We went from 35 campsites to 115! I still call it “A work in progress” because operating a Campground is a never-ending learning experience. Each day has the potential for a new trial or tribulation – but this just makes things interesting! With enthusiasm, passion and hard work, anything is possible. And yes, if you’re wondering, visitors did come, from far and wide!

Tourism Champion Blog 6 – Interview with Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the new Nova Scotia Tourism Agency (NSTA)


Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the new Nova Scotia Tourism Agency (NSTA)


Question: Can you provide a brief update on the progress of establishing the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency (NSTA) office in Windsor?

We are making progress toward the move to Windsor late this year. Renovations are now underway on the site of the former Black Bear Tavern, which will be our new home.

We are also continuing to build our Tourism team. We have such bright, hard-working staff, and we are pleased to have recently added several key members.

There are still a few vacancies that we are looking to fill over the short term. We are looking for dedicated individuals who have the skills and talent to join us in helping to build the industry. Those who are interested can watch Career Beacon for details on upcoming positions.

(Left) Patrick Sullivan, CEO of NSTA,(Middle) Donna Hatt, Marketing & Product Development Manager at White Point Beach Resort, (Right) Star Dobson, CTV Reporter

(Left) Patrick Sullivan, CEO of NSTA,(Middle) Donna Hatt, Marketing & Product Development Manager at White Point Beach Resort, (Right) Star Dobson, CTV Reporter

The changes we have been making in the transition to the agency, including the move to Windsor, have been significant, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to evolve. To our industry members and partners, it will mean improved service and access to the information and tools you need.

Question: The new Tourism Strategy has just been released; can you recap what the main areas of focus are moving forward? And how is this approach different?

The NSTA is a new, more collaborative, partnership between government and industry that is working to grow tourism in the province. The long-term strategy is our plan for the next five years to deliver on the goals of increasing visitors to Nova Scotia and raising revenues.

The new strategy for tourism – a strategy for the entire industry – is based on five strategic pillars for growth guided by a strategic goal: we will focus on the visitor – attract more of them, and encourage them to spend more and stay longer – to increase industry profitability.


Tourism Strategy – Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

We have five main areas of focus:

  • Leadership & Collaboration – This is our opportunity to shift the mindset of the province to a more visitor-focused approach and to build pride in the value of the visitor economy.
  • Inspirational, strategic marketing – We will introduce a compelling Nova Scotia tourism brand that creates an emotional connection with potential visitors, differentiates Nova Scotia from its competitors, and aligns with the overall provincial brand.
  • Evidence-based decision-making – Research will be at the core of all our strategic decision-making. We will capture and interpret marketing intelligence to invest in the best opportunities for the most profit and economic impact.
  • Higher-quality product and experiences – To inspire and motivate new first-time visitors while meeting visitor expectations, we will raise the bar on the product and experience offering in Nova Scotia, and strategically invest to drive growth.
  • Improved access to Nova Scotia and throughout the province – We will actively support initiatives to build access to the province that will bring new visitors to Nova Scotia through all modes of transportation and improve the visitor experience.

Our strategic goal will lead us as we strive to make the tough, strategic decisions. It will be the role of the NSTA to focus on first-time pleasure visitors to Nova Scotia, to clearly communicate our message to visit Nova Scotia.

We can’t do this alone. Everyone has a role to play – the NSTA, government and industry – we need to continue to establish clear roles and responsibilities for each of them in order to succeed.

Question: What can operators do to support the new Tourism Strategy?

As I mentioned, the NSTA is focused on attracting first-time visitors from outside the region to Nova Scotia.

Industry is in the best position to form strong relationships with those visitors – to ensure they come back, and continue to build our repeat business. We need them to target repeat visitors through their own communication channels and networks – digital and traditional – to invite them to come back.

To compel these visitors to return, operators can align their business with the new tourism brand by downloading the guidelines from the tourism website at They can also access our image library.

Industry should work with the Regional Tourism Industry Associations to target Atlantic Canadians and showcase all there is to see and do in their region. To get them here and move them around the province, industry must be trade ready. We need to improve the quality of our experiences and accommodations to meet the expectations of those visitors. We can help operators get there by providing them with the right tools, and even a mentor.

Our trade and media fam tours are a great way to attract travel trade and journalists, who can help us tell the world about everything we have to offer. We need industry to participate in these fam tours with discounts and special offerings. The more media we can bring to the province, the more valuable exposure we’ll receive.

Research shows that the number one category of visitor activity in the world is shopping, dining and entertainment in a pedestrian-friendly, intimate setting – this is the activity that takes place in your downtowns. In fact, this is where 80 per cent of all non-lodging tourism spending takes place.


Downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Capitol City

To help operators, we have revamped our Tourism Development Investment funding for destination development. The First Impressions funding program supports the development of attractive, distinctive and visitor-friendly downtowns. A second program, Competitive Edge, gives priority to new products, experiences, or projects that enhance market-readiness, visitor experiences or the quality of existing product in Nova Scotia’s most competitive destinations.

Our focus will be on those projects targeting high-yield markets, such as outdoor, culinary and cultural enthusiasts. Industry members can go to our website to learn more about the programs and how to apply. We can help industry create packages, itineraries and experiences focused on what makes their part of Nova Scotia unique in the region and the world.

Operators can also develop experiences and packages around UNESCO opportunities, festivals and events, and new products like the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail in Cape Breton, or the upcoming Halifax to Lunenburg trail cycling tourism development.


UNESCO World Heritage Site – Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Nova Scotia

We also know that the convention centre is coming. The meetings and conventions market works up to five years ahead. We should be developing our products, experiences and itineraries now to capture these visitors when the centre opens in 2016.

For more information and inspiration on how to develop experiences, download our Experience Toolkit on the tourism website. Once they are ready, we can promote them on for free!

These are just a few concrete things industry can do to help us reach our strategic goal. We really want our industry members to reach out to NSTA staff to discuss their ideas. Operators can get information on all of these initiatives or get contact details on our new industry website at

Our focus is to help provide industry with the tools they need to build their business, and provide direction on reaching those visitors that will help us become more competitive as an industry.

We need to collaborate much more effectively to achieve the results we are seeking. We all need to be moving in the same direction – together.

Question: Lately there’s been a lot of media attention around unlicensed properties in Nova Scotia, what can industry and government do to ensure that the right product is being promoted to customers?

I prefer to think of this in a positive way. There have been unlicensed properties around for decades and they represent a very small proportion of the 2.5 million room nights in the province. The NSTA only promotes accommodations that are approved through one of the three quality programs: the Nova Scotia Quality Standards Program; CAA; and Canada Select. With over 2,000,000 people who visit our website annually, and growing, I believe that licensed properties will get the exposure they deserve. We have a great partnership with the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS), on the Nova Scotia Approved program, which helps set the benchmark standards for quality.

Nova Scotia Approved Quality Assurance Program

Nova Scotia Approved Quality Assurance Program

Only approved and licensed accommodations are eligible to be promoted in our provincial marketing or participate in any of our partnership opportunities. We want to ensure that the product we take to market meets all the required quality standards and government regulations. On and in the Doers and Dreamers Travel Guide, we make sure our visitors know what they’re getting.


Doers and Dreamers Travel Guide – Nova Scotia

But it’s so much more than just meeting requirements. It’s about meeting and exceeding visitors’ expectations. Quality is so important in our industry. In order to keep up with tourism destinations around the world, it is essential to satisfy our visitors’ needs. We all need to work together to ensure we are delivering only the best products, experiences and customer service.

The quality of the visitor’s experience is influenced by every interaction with a destination – from pre-trip information, the quality of privately and publicly offered products and services, and post-trip follow-up. Again, everyone has a role to play.

Question: What is NSTA doing to improve the quality of the tourism product in Nova Scotia?

As part of the long-term tourism strategy, we are focused on raising the bar of our product and experiences to capture the imagination of potential first-time visitors, and make Nova Scotia a must-see destination.

We are changing the way we work with industry to accomplish this, moving from reactive to impactful. For instance, I mentioned earlier the new funding programs we have implemented with a much more strategic-driven application process. In alignment with our tourism strategy, these programs give priority to new products, focused on quality, market readiness and competitive destinations to motivate people to travel to Nova Scotia for the first time.

Our development team is also building a model to support the identification of tourism icons, to identify them and create multi-year development plans to ensure they are also meeting and exceeding expectations.

Our new tourism brand and marketing campaign are also ensuring we have the right message to promote the products and experiences that motivate first-time visitors. We need industry’s help to ensure we have a quality product to deliver on our brands promise.

As I quoted at the TIANS conference in November, Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. We can’t afford to be complacent. We want to work with businesses to help them become more competitive and innovative to grow the industry.


For instance, as part of our Bay of Fundy development plan, NSTA staff recently led a technical mission for organizations in East Hants to develop Burncoat Head. We travelled with these groups to Hopewell Rocks to see what New Brunswick is doing well – how they interpret, and how they’ve developed their site. We are working proactively with key industry partners in ways that respond very directly to their needs at almost no cost.

Only by working together to improve the quality of our product and experiences can we can achieve the goals laid out in the tourism strategy and see real industry growth.

TIANS would like to thank Mr. Sullivan for his feedback and we look forward to working with the NSTA to help build Nova Scotia’s economy into a thriving industry.

Tourism Week 2013 Update – Nova Scotia


As part of Tourism Week, on Wednesday, June 12th, TIANS, the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency (NSTA) and many other industry stakeholders had participated in the Adopt-A-Highway program. For many years, TIANS has been committed to cleaning a 4 kilometer stretch of Peggy’s Cove. The road leading to Peggy’s Cove is one of the most travelled by visitors and attracts over 500,000 people a year.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia, Canada.

“Keeping the area around Peggy’s Cove clean and beautiful is the perfect way to kick off Tourism Week,” said Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Graham Steele. “I’m proud of our team of NSTA workers for putting in this extra effort in time for the upcoming busy summer tourist season.”

Tiffany Morash, TIANS Membership Coordinator

Tiffany Morash, TIANS Membership Coordinator

Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the new Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the new Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

TIANS encourages the general public to explore their local communities and enhance their understanding of the important role that tourism plays for all.

TIANS is committed to representing the best interests of the Industry; enhancing and supporting the development of a competitive business environment; advocating on issues critical to the Industry’s success; and most importantly, leading Nova Scotia’s most promising economic sector.

Group photo of TIANS staff and NSTA staff.

Group photo of TIANS staff and NSTA staff.

Tourism Champion Blog 5 – An Update from the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency (NSTA)


It’s been a busy and exciting few weeks for the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency (NSTA).  The Ontario and Quebec campaigns have been in full swing.  Television has now wrapped up, print continues for another week, and online advertising continues until June 16, 2013.

Globe and Mail

The fifth installment of the Globe and Mail’s Culinary Road Trip series ran in the national edition on Saturday, May 25th featuring Halifax and area.  The final installment scheduled for June 8th will be a series roundup.  To view the full article, please click here.


The Peggy’s Corner lighthouse installation kicked off on May 15th in Toronto to an enthusiastic audience.  Citytv’s Breakfast Television with host Jennifer Valentyne broadcast live from the site with eight segments on Nova Scotia.  Despite some early morning rain, a crowd turned out for the on-air draw for a trip to Nova Scotia.  There was sunshine at noon for the launch event featuring Candy Palmater as MC, Precision Drumming Band Squid, and Kilted Chef Alain Bosse doing his Lobster 101 demonstration. Crowds lined up at 11:30 am for Taste of Nova Scotia’s fare – lobster sliders, shortbreads and blueberry lemonade.

Lighthouse Launch Event

People were delighted and amused to see one of Nova Scotia’s most recognizable icons in the heart of the downtown Toronto, and it has become a popular photo op.  See more photos from the event on our Facebook by clicking here.

Lighthouse at Night

We’ve also been giving away daily lobster prizes for folks who use the hashtag: #peggyscove on Instagram as well as Twitter.  See some of the fan photos by clicking here.

The lighthouse will remain until June 9th when it will be removed and re-installed on June 17th on the Toronto waterfront for the Redpath Waterfront Festival taking place from June 20-23rd.  Be sure to encourage your Toronto family or friends to get out to see the lighthouse…in addition to enticing new visitors, it’s making the expats homesick!



Advertising in La Presse is wrapping up with a final insertion on Saturday, June 1st featuring Louisbourg 300.

We also hosted a media event in Montreal at the Complexe Desjardins to promote Nova Scotia and Louisbourg 300.  Similar to the Toronto event, The Kilted Chef hosted Lobster 101 demonstrations and Taste of Nova Scotia sampled lobster sliders, shortbreads and blueberry lemonade.  Louisbourg animators also participated in the promotion.

Montreal Event - Animator

Here’s a sample of just some of the media coverage:

• CTV – Photo:  Chef Alain Bosse with CTV’s Aphrodite Salas
• Global Montreal

Building on this event, the new Taste of Nova Scotia Eatery will be at Lachine Canal Park from May 31-June 2 featuring unique Nova Scotia cuisine.

Montreal Event - CTV Host

La Presse - Louisbourg June 1

Hit The Road with Me

The Hit The Road with Me Facebook contest launched on May 14th and has been a huge success, surpassing the initial goal of 5000 entries with over 30,000 entries to date.  Over 11,000 of those also signed up to receive our monthly newsletters updates.  Just a day after the contest launched, we passed 100,000 likes on Facebook and as of today, we’re once again leading the provincial tourism DMOs on Facebook with 123,536 engaged fans.  Hit the Road with Me closes June 24th so there’s still time to encourage your family and friends to enter.  To view the Facebook page, click here.

Atlantic Region

We will be working with CTV on a regional tourism television promotion featuring Live at Five and Morning Live segments.  The series will begin July 2nd and will be in production over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned for more.

Wendy Barnable
Nova Scotia Tourism Agency
t: 424-8984  |  c: 471-1513  | e:
World Trade and Convention Centre  |  1800 Argyle St., Suite 602
PO Box 2311  |  Halifax, NS  B3J 3C8