Forget January 1. To me, September always seems like the beginning of the new year. And so it seems only appropriate that the TMAC national board is entering the fall season all energized and ready to tackle a host of projects.
This month's biggest news is the launch of registration for the 2012 Conference & AGM in Fredericton. We have an exciting program planned for you, with some terrific pre and post tours, practical professional development sessions and real down-home Maritime hospitality in one of the friendliest cities we've ever visited.
We've also just sent out the RFP for our 2014 conference. For the first time, we've opened the conference to any destination anywhere in the world, so if you want 200 or so of Canada's best travel writers, photographers and industry professionals visiting you and telling your destination's stories, well, this is your big opportunity. If you missed the e-blast, contact Tina Hutchinson (email@example.com) for details.
September's other big project is the beginning of membership renewals (see the report below). For media members, if your last name starts with L to Z, you'll want to start compiling your tearsheets now.
On the renewal forms, you'll notice one significant change. We're asking you to indicate whether you want a hard copy of the Membership Handbook or not. We know not all of you use the hard copy, but those who do are very attached to it. At the same time, we're trying to control both our costs and our impact on the environment, so we're only sending it to new members and those who really want it.
Next year, though, you'll see an even bigger change: To reward those who volunteer their valuable time for TMAC (and to encourage others to do so), we're going to start counting points for TMAC volunteer positions. The membership committee is working on a proposal for what those points values should be, and we plan to start implementing them when we launch the A to K part of membership renewal in 2012.
And speaking of changes . . .
Another big change is one you'll notice when you register for the conference. We have updated our Media Code of Conduct, and for the first time we have a formalized system in place for dealing with disputes involving TMAC members. We have also struck an Ethics Committee, chaired by Dale Dunlop, who spent the summer revising the code while the rest of us were at the beach.
There are basically three major changes. The first is that we have added the following item:
"The annual Media Marketplace is a forum for exchanging ideas and generating opportunities for media stories. It is not to be used as a means of advancing personal business interests or promoting products and services for financial gain to industry members."
The second is that, upon registering for the conference, our media members will be asked to check a box indicating that they have read the Code of Conduct, agree to its terms and understand the consequences of violating the code. This is in keeping with what similar organizations, such as SATW, do as well.
And the third addition is that we've established a process for dealing with disputes. If there is an issue that cannot be resolved between the individuals involved, it should be put in writing and brought to the attention of the national president. Depending on the circumstances, it will most likely go to the Ethics Committee, who will make a recommendation as to how to deal with the issue. Consequences could be a verbal caution, written reprimand, suspension from certain activities, or in truly extreme cases, expulsion from the association.
The idea here is to be open and transparent and to make sure as far as possible that everyone understands TMAC's rules and expectations, and what the consequences are for violating them. Indeed, our sincere hope is that we never have to invoke any of this. But if we do, at least there can be no surprises. You can (and should) read the whole Code of Conduct at www.travelmedia.ca.
This is all part of our ongoing effort to establish a strong foundation for a thriving and successful professional association. As we continue through the fall and winter, we'll be working on some long-term strategies for TMAC, including revisiting the RFP for a new website. We have lots of projects, both big and small, in the works, which seems only fitting for the beginning of a new year. We'll be sure to keep you posted.
Meanwhile, happy travels and have a great and productive fall!
- Joanne Sasvari, national president, TMAC