Talking tourism at HNL

Alan Doyle.

Alan Doyle.

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By Kristen Smith

GANDER, NL—It’s been said that no band
since the Beach Boys has ever embodied a place as well as Great Big Sea characterizes The Rock, so it’s fitting GBS frontman Alan Doyle was the keynote for this
year’s Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) conference.

Doyle shared some lessons learned about
“stuff that has made it go smoothly at times.”

  • Don’t just be a cog
    in the wheel. “Demonstrate you are not just there to do your job, you’re there
    to get the job done,” said Doyle.
  • “Be prepared.” Both
    tourism and entertainment have a show time, Doyle said, and he learned while
    working on the movie Robin Hood that so many things are out your
    control that at the very least you have to be ready. “I have never met anyone
    else in my life who is more ready to go to work than Russell Crowe.”
  • Do whatever the day
    asks of you. “You want people around you who will do the big stuff and the
    boring stuff,” said Doyle. He said the owner of Keg Restaurants washed dishes
    if there wasn’t a dishwasher. “That small stuff is important.”

Things learned at the HLN conference:

1. 
Only a minority of
NL tourism operators utilize TripAdvisor listings, according to HNL president
Carol-Ann Gilliard.

2. “Customers
are embracing the idea of reviewing everything,” said Andrew Wiens of
TripAdvisor. “They are reviewing you and that conversation is happening whether
you want to engage or not.”

3. When responding to a review it’s
important to customize; it shows authenticity. If it’s positive, repeating the
establishment’s name in the response will boost Google placement of the
comment; if negative, don’t use the name because it will do the same.

4. Canadian travellers made up 82 per cent of
Newfoundland and Labrador tourism between May and October. With 22 million
potential vacation travellers in Canada (13 per cent of whom have friends or
family in NL), 52 per cent of those plan to travel within the country,
according to a non-resident travel attitudes and motivations study. 

5. Lyle Wetsch, associate professor at Memorial
University of Newfoundland, told delegates social media is “no longer a niche
communication channel; this is a primary communication channel.” Wetsch said 60
per cent of businesses do not respond on Twitter. He said social should be a
business’ main communication channel, calling it an operator’s new telephone. 

As part of the conference, HNL held its annual
general meeting where members of the 2014 board of directors were officially
announced.

Rex Avery, vice-president of Steele
Hotels, succeeds Darlene Thomas as chair. Avery has been on the board since
2009 holding secretary/treasurer and vice-chair positions.

Avery said he is looking forward to the
next two years.

“I am excited about this new challenge
before me,” said Avery. “The tourism industry in NL contributes significant
economic and social value to our province and my fellow board members and I are
keen to contribute in any way we can to ensure the value of tourism continues
to grow.”  

The board’s directors-at-large consist of Dion
Finlay, Leaside Suites and Executive Apartments; Kelly Finlay, Murray Premises
Hotel; Kathie Hicks, Spirit of Newfoundland Productions; Helena Lawlor,
Hillview Terrace; and Michelle Melee Heath, Monastery Spa & Suites.

For the full story see the April issue of CLN.