contentsSeptember | October 2012 - Inside TMAC Travels
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bod2012 Board of Directors


Michele Sponagle (media)

Phone: 519-442-6605



Jantine Van Kregten (industry)

Director of Communications, Ottawa Tourism

Phone: 1 (800) 363-4465 ext. 116


Joanne Blain (media)

Joanne Blain Creative Services Ltd.

Phone: 604-734-0584


Dale Dunlop (media)

Phone: 902-826-7713



Irene Knight (industry)

Manager of Public Relations, CN Tower

Phone: 416-601-4729



Glenn Cameron (industry)

PR Consultant, Clear Communications

Phone: 416 920-5817


Liz Campbell (media)

Phone: 416-207-9150


Grant Fraser (media)

Tee to Green Magazine

Phone: 905-844-7666


Dan Young (industry)

Public Relations Manager - CANADA, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Phone: 416-947-4955 ext. 4458




Susan Mate (media)

Last Word Media

Phone: 403-230-0731



Sandra Phinney (media)

Freelance Journalist, Researcher, Photographer

Phone: 902-648-0462



Jane Mundy (media) 

Phone: 604-251-4443



Jerry Grymek (industry)

Phone: 416-440-2500

New_MemberNew Members



Randy Sharman

Calgary, Alberta


Barbara Edie

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Cathy Donaldson

Moncton, New Brunswick




Ruth Williamson

U.S. Consulate General

Toronto, Ontario


Jennifer Miller


Thornbury, Ontario


Christine Painter


Cobourg, Ontario


Joyce Kiehl

Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

Rancho Mirage, California

contributorsContributors to This Issue


  • Dale Dunlop
  • Jan Feduck
  • Jerry Grymek
  • Hélèna Katz
  • Susan Mate
  • Josephine Matyas
  • Jane Mundy
  • Jan Napier
  • Sandra Phinney
  • Michele Sponagle

Thanks for your contribution!

Dear :

Summer seems to be lingering on in some parts of the country. Perhaps you've had a break to spend time with family; or perhaps summer has been jam-packed with travel, gathering of story material, promoting your destination, or writing, photographing and filing.


As always, the newsletter is full of good tips to keep your business healthy, chapter happenings and news about our great members and volunteers.


Hope you enjoy the read and - if you do - drop the contributors a line to let them know you appreciated their work.

- Josephine Matyas, TMAC Travels editor

President_ReportPresident's Report

Some days, I think that I should give up writing and go work at Tim Hortons. I've come to realize that I work in a profession that is radically under-appreciated. Saying that you're a writer is akin to saying I breathe air. It doesn't seem to mean much. These days, anyone with a pulse, a computer and Internet access can post something and can also say, "I'm a writer."


News flash: Because you have written, does not mean you're a writer. Because you can take an okay photo doesn't make you a photographer. And because I make a wickedly good French toast doesn't make me a chef either. It's tough these days not to feel discouraged about my profession and its future. And I'm hearing the same from my fellow TMAC colleagues. What we do has become so diluted by the tidal wave of so-called writers who are taking on assignments, once reserved by professionals.


I scan the web on occasion to see if I can find some interesting gigs. I'll look on or and the rates being paid for writing is abysmal. In some cases, there are people willing to write an original, 800-word feature for $40. To make a decent living, you'd have to crank out copy faster than Superman and the Green Lantern combined. It's impossible.


I'm not sure why anyone would pimp themselves out at such a paltry price. Are these beginners who just want to get some experience under their belts and a few bylines they can show for their efforts? Bored house-husbands and -wives who have a primary income earner to support them while they play at being a writer? I don't know. It's beyond my comprehension.


Then there are those, especially in travel, that will work for free. No payment required. The attitude seems to be: "Just give me a trip and I'll write anything you want. Complimentary photos included." Is that where we are headed? It feels to me that we are moving that way.


I remember at a TMAC conference in London, Ontario, I sat on an editor's panel at one of the PD sessions. A journalist asked me why I wasn't paying more than the customary $1 per word for articles I commissioned for the magazine I worked for. She suggested I needed to fight with my publisher for better pay for writers. The implication was that it was MY fault. That made me chuckle. Now, I just find it sad. Your lucky to get $1 a word these days.


The fault lies with those who continue to be complacent and work for far, far less. They under-cut and belittle our profession every time they say "yes" to garbage money. We did it to ourselves. I know there are TMAC members who have been published without compensation. One admitted to me that she had done a book review for a well-known newspaper for free. "Why?," I asked. Her reply? "They let me keep the book." If that kind of thinking continues, we're doomed.


TMAC is doing what it can to keep standards high for our profession. Only work that is paid can be counted toward requalification. No freebies allowed. It's nearly impossible to check every single credit, but the membership committee does try. When I was on that committee, I would send random emails to the commissioner of the work listed for requalification to verify there was some sort of compensation. And in some cases, there wasn't and we had to say good-bye to some who tried to re-qualify solely with free work.


We will continue to make sure that TMAC members are professionals. In a perfect world, we'd stipulate a minimum for work performed, but in this economic environment, that's not going to happen. We sell our souls sometimes to get work. I understand that. I'm just hoping that we can prevent it from becoming the norm.


- Michele Sponagle, TMAC national president


Finance_GovernanceFinance and Governance Report

There have been no new developments in the finance department since last issue.


- Dale Dunlop, TMAC treasurer

bc_chapterChapter News

BRITISH COLUMBIAWe had a great turnout for our annual Summer Sizzler, this year at Dockside restaurant, Granville Island. Our wonderful industry members had a number of prizes for media, from Edible Canada's gift basket to Air Canada lounge passes and a "spa and sip" package for industry.


Next up, there will be a more formal event at the end of October with round table discussions on topics such as:

  • How does media deal with industry/partners when they can't fit them into the story? Suggestions on how to avoid damaging the relationships.
  • Working while travelling and working from home; tips on how to create a balance, and where to draw the line when you're never really "offline."
  • How to turn a press release into a press trip.

It's amazing how many members do show up for our events, given that they are constantly traveling. Trish Friesen, editor-in-chief at Trip was one of two bloggers in the world featured in a solo video for's new ad campaign - Find Yours. Robin Esrock has almost completed his first book, The Great Canadian Bucket List, and has created a new TV show for OLN/CityTV called Get Stuffed. And Janice Mucalov has released her "Sand in my Suitcase" blog in partnership with her husband George - tales of luxury travel with an adventurous twist.


Holly Lenk, Manager, Travel Media Relations with Tourism Victoria reports it recently won a PROMO! Award for best small budget campaign in Canada for its Victoria Viewfinder campaign. The campaign is now entered into the international Globes Award Show where it competes for the title of "Best in the World."


Congrats to all!


- Jane Mundy, B.C. chapter chair

ab_chapterALBERTAThe Alberta chapter is undergoing some changes - spurred by new babies, the need for new blood and a desire to inject new energy into our growing chapter (nearing that 40-member mark). After some five years in the role, chapter co-chair Susan Mate (that's me) is stepping back for family/health reasons this fall, to be replaced on the national media side by capable travel journalist Debra Smith ( She'll be working in tandem with provincial co-chair Jessica Harcombe Fleming of Travel Alberta; while new media member Carol Patterson ( has offered to fill the treasurer's shoes. (As an arithmetic goof, I have been trying to find a fill-in with bookkeeping experience.) So grateful! In turn, I'll stay on the board and take over the secretary's role from the generous Jennifer Santos from Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, who goes on maternity leave this fall (thrilled for her, insert sob here for the loss of a great board member, albeit temporary). Another worthy (insert another sob here) departure of note is writer Cinda Chavich, who is moving to Victoria with hubby Delbert. (Her Thanksgiving smoked turkey dinners are legendary, having been referenced many times in previous chapter posts.) We know our food/wine/travel goddess will shine on the island. Cinda took home several TMAC awards from our 2012 AGM in Fredericton on the same day she learned she was moving from Cowtown!


Meanwhile, our social media specialist Seema Dhawan is already thriving in her new role as writer and editor of Huffington Post's Calgary bureau, which began just last month. Young Seema has selflessly coached many of us on Twitter, Facebook and blogs - keen to get us all as linked in as she is.


On a related note, though I am stepping down as chapter co-chair with Jessica, I've volunteered to help co-chair (with the powerhouse Helena Katz, media member from Fort Smith, N.W.T.), on the national volunteer committee. We need one more industry member to help with this committee, which is looking at how to acknowledge volunteers for their generous efforts. PLEASE, if there is any Alberta (or other) industry member willing to join the committee to offer ideas to encourage and reward our crucial volunteers, please let me know. Thanks to Alison Aiton of Greater New Brunswick Tourism for volunteering for one of the two industry roles. Alberta industry members, how about it? We don't need your heart and soul (though we wouldn't say no), but simply periodic contributions/brainstorming to the efforts started by Helena and (previous committee chair) Sandra Phinney to acknowledge the backbone of TMAC - our volunteers. Without them, there would be no TMAC. We also welcome any industry members to donate gift certificates or other items to present for volunteer awards, which launches at the Saskatoon AGM next June.


- Susan Mate, outgoing Alberta media co-chair

on_chapterONTARIOA number of new and exciting happenings with the Ontario chapter. First off, we have added new board members to the 2012/2013 Ontario chapter board. The new board consists of:

  • Jerry Grymek, chair, industry
  • Ron Brown, media
  • Sherri Telenko, media
  • May Givens, media
  • Anne Marshall, industry
  • Tracy Ford, industry
  • Elizabeth Kerr, media
  • Igor Kravtchenko, media
  • Jennifer Cooke, industry
  • Jerry Adler, industry
  • Kimberly Hartley, industry

The Ontario chapter held a very successful, roadtrip-version of an M&M on July 24 to Collingwood, hosted and sponsored by Cranberry Golf Resort. Professional blogger Stephanie Miller gave us honest answers and advice about how blogs can generate income, who is hiring bloggers, and why you should consider corporate blogs as a writing market. Our summer day trips have become very successful and we already have a potential sponsor for July 2013 (more details to come).


We are just waiting to confirm our M&M's for September and October and an announcement will come soon.


Following our last successful social media PD session with LinkedIn, we are looking to add another social media session during the year and are making a few Toronto contacts to see what can be done.


Jerry Grymek, Ontario chapter chair 

atlantic_chapterATLANTICPlans are underway to have a "Google for journalists" session in Halifax with Andrew Swarzt on Oct.1 followed by a full day session Oct. 27 on book publishing with media member Julie Watson. The resident of P.E.I. has published 28 books. She will map out the pros and cons of going traditional routes submitting directly to a publisher or hiring an agent, as well as self publishing, POD and e-books.


- Sandra Phinney, Atlantic chapter chair

Member_NewsMember News

TMAC industry member Lois Gerber is pleased to  announce that media registration for the Visit Europe Media Exchange opened the first week of August. For nearly a decade, VEMEX has delivered the latest upcoming European travel  news to journalists working in all disciplines. This is a time- and cost-effective opportunity for writers, bloggers, editors and  broadcasters to meet with dozens of European tourism representatives in one place in one day. Media participants  select their own hours during the 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. day to suit their schedules. For the first time, the 2012 VEMEX schedule includes Chicago, but this year there are no Canadian locations. Dates: New York, Oct. 22  at The Harvard Club; Chicago, Oct. 25 at The Chicago Hilton Hotel. Register for New York or Chicago at


Why does a British Columbia travel writer love Ontario? B.C. media member Carolyn B. Heller is pleased to announce that San Francisco-based Avalon Travel has published her new travel guidebook, Moon Handbooks: Ontario (, featuring lots of fun and funky destinations and experiences across Canada's most populous province. Review copies are available through Carolyn at


Destination St. John's is happy to announce a new attraction - the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation - a unique marriage of cultural interpretation and contemporary craft creation. Built to reflect the fishing stages and fish plants that have occupied this site in Newfoundland since the 1600s, the Plantation consists of 10 studios, office/archives for the Quidi Vidi Village Foundation, a visitor information desk and office space. It's created a lot of excitement in the region (

Our newest member, Janice Arseneault, from Tourisme Edmundston Madawaska, is promoting an interesting product: RV travel in the fall, featuring gob-smacking forest colours, a new itinerary covers four cities and amazing country/travel experiences throughout northern New Brunswick ( 



Watch For The October Webinar: 

The Importance and Practice of Planning for Small Businesses


Want to become morbusiness savvy? Mark your calendar for TMAC's first webinar with Peter Wright on Oct. 9 from 1-2 p.m. (ET). The topic will be Business Planning for Small Businesses and should be of interest to both industry and media.


We all know that we should set goals for our own business, but do we really need a formal plan? With all our time focused on the needs of our work and customers, we simply aren't taking the time to create a basic strategy and action plan required to drive growth and higher earnings. Taking a small amount of time to follow a simple but disciplined planning process can dramatically improve clarity of purpose... and ultimately, your bottom line.


A simple, effective business plan is important for any business, no matter how large or small. But the idea of creating and executing one can be intimidating and overwhelming. In this webinar, Peter Wright, president of The Planning Group will help you move from planning principles to a simple framework and basic steps to help small business owners derive real benefits from business planning.


Register for this informative 60-minute live webinar available exclusively to TMAC members.


The PD committee has been reviewing comments about the professional development sessions from our last conferenceand will soon be gearing up to plan 2013 PD sessions in Saskatchewan. If you have any ideas, send them to Sandra Phinney at


MindsInquisitive Minds Want To Know

by Jan Feduck


Send us a burning question to do with the business of travel journalism and we'll source out perspectives from a few experts who've "been there." Each issue of TMAC Travels will feature three or four questions with witty, brilliant, interesting and insightful answers from our members.


Send your questions to our new Q&A editor, media member Jan Feduck, 


Please click here to read the article.

 Back to Table of Contents 

AAUnsung Heroes: Cathy Stapells

by Hélèna Katz


When Ontario media member Cathy Stapells started volunteering for TMAC in 2005, she did it in an unintentionally spectacular way. "I was asked to run for the board and I had declined a couple of times, so when the phone call came again I thought it's time I contribute." She thought she'd be a member-at-large or, perhaps, the board's secretary. Instead, she became national president for two years.

Please click here to read the article.

FrenchPhotography: Don't Let This Happen To You!

by Jan Napier


With a magnificent view to the Mediterranean, I lounged on the bed of my stateroom reviewing pictures on my camera. We were nearing the end of a three-week holiday and I was doing what I loved to do - reviewing the photos of the day and deleting the duds.


Please click here to read the article.

TMAC Travels - Newsletter Submission Guidelines
TMAC Travels is published bimonthly. Submissions should fit into one of the following categories:

Professional news about you: books published, awards won, new markets obtained, positions attained, requests for travel-related information (story-specific requests ONLY), contact/profile information updates/changes. Social notices about you: weddings, babies, non-industry awards and so on (at the editor's discretion and with a 50-word limit; these must be things directly connected to the member). NOT allowed: requests for comps (airfare, accommodation, tickets, etc.), assignment requests, promotion of stories already written.

Professional news about you/your company: announcement ONLY of new products, new clients, travel-related info requests, contact/profile updates/changes. Social notices: as per media, above. NOT allowed: press releases, promotion of anything beyond new products, new clients or awards. (For information on distributing electronic press releases to all media members for a fee of $75, please contact TO Corp at
The newsletter also seeks chapter news and info on press trips (short descriptions with dates, rough itineraries, requirements - e.g. assignment letter) as well as tips, news and updates submitted by members. Items must be sent, with "TMAC TRAVELS" in the subject line, to Josephine Matyas at Items may be edited for length, grammar or clarity. The newsletter will be delivered to members by email by the middle of the month. Material should be sent by the 1st of each month unless the editor gives prior approval.

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