Pat Peterson had her reservations about introducing a new online booking platform into her and her husband Larry Peterson’s quaint northern resort in Bruce Mines, Ontario. Her experience with technology was limited and Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse had been a successful fishing and family destination without it for over 60 years.
All of Pat’s apprehensions aside, she had a goal of exploring new ways to reach more guests. The Petersons wanted sustainability in an industry that values quality of service and a succession plan for future generations of family ownership.
Carol Caputo, the then Executive Director for Algoma Kinniwabi Travel Association, referred Bruce Bay Cottages to Tourism Excellence North (TEN), a workforce and industry training program designed to help tourism operators increase visitor appeal by finding new ways of creating higher-quality tourism experiences.
TEN assessed Bruce Bay Cottage’s assets and operations and helped facilitate an action plan on how to meet their business development goals for the resort.
“[the assessment] resulted in our knowing the resort’s strengths and weaknesses,” says Pat. During the tourist season, outreach is essential to the resort’s business. And the best way of connecting with guests is through technology and online booking – tools that Bruce Bay Cottages lacked at the time.
“Algoma Country (a not-for-profit tourism industry organization) offered online booking to members. And Bruce Bay Cottages was one of the first resorts to add online booking. It was one of the best things we ever did to increase business for our resort.”
The result - “Our full occupancy rate has increased.”
Tourism Excellence North’s industry training and development programs are led by specialists and help tourism operators like Bruce Bay Cottages through self-learning, group learning and personalized coaching programs.
TEN’s goals are to apply the knowledge of what travellers want and expect in a destination to create a ‘quality shift’ in overall services offered to guests while allowing operators to grow their bottom line.
“Our next step was private coaching,” explains Pat. “Chris Hughes was our private coach and he advised us of some simple things that we could do which would allow us to increase our rates.”
“He had great ideas to enhance our resort’s appearance which we are still implementing today. One of the main things we took away from the private coaching was small details matter and go for the ‘wow’.”
While the resort’s lodging options maintain their up-north charisma; open raftered ceilings and a minimalistic sensibility designed to calm the spirit, upgrades and service improvements through the guidance of TEN have had a significant impact on Bruce Bay Cottages.
“Working with TEN has been a great experience. It has been beneficial to our resort’s growth and improvements,” says Pat. “Bruce Bay Cottages has participated in most of the programs that TEN has offered and has gained something from each one. The best part of working with TEN was the wealth of information that we gained to improve our resort.”
About Tourism Excellence North
Tourism Excellence North (TEN) was developed by Destination Northern Ontario with support from FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. TEN supports the growth of the North’s tourism industry through a pan-northern network of brokers that advise tourism operators, Economic Development Officers and Tourism Associations about program benefits.
Over 400 tourism operators and workforce personnel have benefitted from the Tourism Excellence North programs to date with the program earning a 100 per cent satisfaction rating from participants.
Visit TourismExcellenceNorth.ca to learn more, access business assessment tools, and to register for upcoming workshops.