contentsMay | June 2013 -

Inside TMAC Travels
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bod2012-13 Board of Directors


Michele Sponagle (media)

Phone: 519-442-6605



Jantine Van Kregten (industry)

Director of Communications,

Ottawa Tourism

Phone: 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




Deb Smith (media)

D. Smith Ink Ltd.

Phone: 403-245-1239



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



Katherine Low

Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation



Virginia Lewis

Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association



Kelley Glazer

Waskesiu Wilderness Region



David Makowsky

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village



Leanna Mohan

Royal Tyrrell Museum        



Lori Bayne

Banff National Park



Liz Sperandeo

Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver



Maureen Fitzhenry

Museum for Human Rights






Merle Rosenstein

Toronto, ON



Lucy Hyslop

Vancouver, B.C.


contributorsContributors to This Issue
  • Gary Crallé
  • Dale Dunlop
  • Jerry Grymek
  • Josephine Matyas
  • Sandra Phinney
  • Debra Smith
  • Michele Sponagle
  • Mark Stevens
  • Jantine Van Kregten


Thanks for your contribution!

Dear :

On press trips, in meetings and during casual conversations, one of the things I hear regularly is how much TMAC members value their memberships in the organization. From strictly-business networking to developing a support network to valuable friendships, TMAC delivers.


And, certainly TMAC Travels  appears to be a part of that value added. Spring has definitely sprung. Settle into the chaise lounge, grab a pair of sunglasses and delve into what we have in the current issue - articles on ethics, forming a valuable working collaboration and all the latest and greatest news on what's happening in the chapters and for the upcoming conference.

Hope you enjoy.


 - Jo


Josephine Matyas, TMAC Travels editor

President_ReportPresident's Report

There's one thing I know for sure: It has become much more difficult to make a living as a freelance writer than ever before. I had a miserable year in 2012. It was my worst financial year since I started freelancing more than 15 years ago. There was a perfect storm among clients. Some closed up shop (goodbye, Homemakers, MORE and others); some got new editors so it was like the awkward first day of school meeting the teacher nervousness all over again, and some simply stopped taking freelance contributions altogether. (Budget? What budget?)


I have a reputation for being a prolific and continuously busy freelancer. At one point in my career, I was editing and assigning for five magazines at once. I didn't really appreciate that I was in the middle of a boom at the time. My lean year of 2012 kicked me in the butt, good and hard. I had become complacent about pitching, believing that the assignments would come as they always had. I spent money believing that another cheque was on the way to my mailbox. And I let my networking slide.

It's amazing how an overdrawn bank account can shake up the way you run your business. I knew I had to do something to turn the tide. First off, I began what I call "shaking the bushes" - contacting editors I had worked with in the past. I reminded them what I had written for them and let them know I was available to take on assignments that needed quick turnaround.


I also sent emails and even phoned (!) people I had met in the past who had full-time gigs at various media outlets. I asked if there was anything coming up and who I should be talking to. I also started pitching again in earnest. I sourced out new markets any way I could. Staying on top of media news proved fruitful. When I heard about a new magazine or website launching, I sent an introductory email right away to introduce myself and ask what the need was for freelance content. I even answered some ads from and managed to snag a couple of new gigs.


I even went on job interviews for full-time positions I didn't really want with good companies just to get face time with people who commissioned writing. In one case, I didn't get the job, but I came out of the experience with a wonderful, steady client. I was also writing pitches like a first-year journalism student. I sent ideas that were bold and unique, and I swallowed my pride and assumed that no one had ever read anything I wrote or knew anything about my career or capabilities. I was starting at ground zero again.

It took about three months, but more assignments starting rolling in again. And so far this year has been a rosy, financially successful one. I feel like I learned a few lessons from 2012. Don't be complacent. Don't give up. Be crafty and creative about reaching the people who can hire you.


I am writing this message especially for my colleagues who are hurting for work. I've heard from a number of friends - award-winning excellent travel professionals - who are on the brink of being fed up with the travel writing business. If there's one more thing I know for sure, in this crazy media climate, I'm glad that I have my TMAC friends and associates who really understand what it's like to struggle and to doubt. For that, I'm eternally grateful. I'm sure you've saved me from madness on more than one occasion. Thank you. And hold on...

Michele Sponagle, TMAC national president


Finance_GovernanceFinance and Governance Report

I am pleased to report that the 2012 audited financial statements have been approved by the national board and should be posted on the website soon. Likewise, the financials for the first quarter of 2013.


Nominations for the open director at large positions have been received and for the VP media position as well. The candidates' names and bios will be included in the material sent out digitally before the AGM in Saskatoon. Should you have a last minute desire to be a part of the new board, candidates can still register for the election 10 days pre-AGM.


Dale Dunlop, TMAC treasurer

ConfCRConference Committee Report

Registration for TMAC's annual conference currently sits at 184: 85 media and 99 industry members. Ten media are "newbies," attending their very first conference. Saskatoon, a City on the Edge, is pulling out all the stop to show TMAC a great time and to provide compelling story ideas and excellent networking opportunities for all.


As the date approaches, TMAC members are encouraged to confirm their transportation and accommodation needs. The conference committee approached both national airlines for meaningful discounts on airfare, but was denied. Standard conference discounts are based on fares that are NOT the lowest available, meaning no real savings, so TMAC members are encouraged to watch for sales or consider alternate means. (Members who are close may choose to drive or take the train.)


Delegates should reserve their stay in one of the two host hotels, the Delta Bessborough and Sheraton Cavalier. Conference activities have been shared between the two locations (which are adjacent to each other) to ensure you're never far from the action. Book your room today by following the directions under the TRAVEL & HOTELS tab at


By staying at the host hotels, you help TMAC meet its obligations under the room block we've reserved - thus allowing us to keep our costs contained. We appreciate your support.


Industry members should also take a peek at the exciting sponsorship opportunities that still exist for the Saskatoon conference. Raise your profile by sponsoring a TMAC Award, or a meal, or a giveaway for media members. You can even bundle some opportunities, allowing your dollars to go further.


And while in Saskatoon, you'll learn the exciting location of our 2014 conference. Stay tuned!


The conference committee also had the pleasure of investigating two possible locations for the 2015 conference. The TMAC national board has confirmed the destination and will be shared at the 2014 conference. Meanwhile, RFPs for the 2016 conference (can you believe it?!) will be launched this fall.


Jantine Van Kregten, conference committee co-chair


NMB2012 TMAC Awards Sponsorship

Knock, knock! That's opportunity knocking. There are still award categories available to industry sponsors.


Industry Members,


Excellence in travel writing and photography deserves to be recognized and celebrated. You can help get the word out that quality matters by sponsoring a TMAC Award. There are still some categories that are open to sponsors, so here's your chance to share the spotlight with a winner.


You'll be rewarded by having access to the podium as an award's presenter at the closing gala (June 15th) for the 2013 TMAC AGM/Conference in Saskatoon. Exposure beyond the podium includes having your organization's name and logo in the awards booklet, membership handbook, annual Report, and on You'll also have a chance for additional media exposure through the press release issued after the awards are handed out.


You will receive some of the best visibility at the conference and show that your support for excellence in travel content.


Open categories available for the 2012 TMAC Awards include:

  • Best Cultural/Historical Feature
  • Best Environment/Responsible Tourism Feature
  • Best Family Feature
  • Best Service Feature
  • Best Evocation of a Place Photo
  • Best People Photo

For more information, please contact Kyra Savolainen at or at 416-934-0599 ext. 313.


We thank the following TMAC Industry Members that have already confirmed their support as 2012 TMAC Award sponsors:






bc_chapterChapter News

BRITISH COLUMBIAThe B.C. chapter held our AGM at the end of April. As well as introducing our new TMAC B.C. board, some great ideas for the coming year were discussed. Robin Esrock presented an idea that will focus on students interested in learning about both travel writing and the PR industry. A committee is already in the works. The event would allow students from local colleges and universities to mix and mingle with media and industry, perhaps as panel or round table discussions categorized by specialty (e.g., PR, food and beverage, adventure, outdoor, sports, etc.)


Speaking of round tables, we had a terrific professional development day in February and about 50 people (and several non-members/recruits) attended. We've also had good turnouts for other events such as our Summer Sizzler and two Munch & Mingles, which were also membership drives. This year, we might squeeze in an extra mingle/membership drive event.


Our chapter is in great financial shape, and our new chapter board is eager to get to work, creating events and services relevant to members. One of our main goals is to build and increase our chapter's membership, which now stands at 80, making us the second largest TMAC chapter.


I'm excited to be serving our chapter again, this year in the position of co-chair along with Carla Mont. I'm also pleased to see several former board members returning, plus some new faces. Meet our new TMAC B.C. board:


Co-chairs: Carla Mont (industry) and Jane Mundy (media)

Vice president: Nora Weber (industry)

Secretary: Liz Sperandeo (industry)

Treasurer: Morgan Sommerville (industry)


Event co-ordinators: Andrea Visscher (industry), Jonathan Reynolds (media) and Dee Raffo (industry)


Members-at-large: Colleen Friesen (media), Marisa Cuglietta (industry), Darryl Leniuk (media), Lucas Aykroyd (media), Michelle Dunn (industry)


See you in Saskatoon!


Jane Mundy, B.C. chapter co-chair

ab_chapterALBERTA & NWT In April, about 20 Alberta and N.W.T. chapter members went back to the future, thanks to our Munch 'n' Mingle host, the Calgary Stampede. Warren Connell, vice-president, park development and operations let us in on exciting new expansion plans. After some cocktails and nibbles, a trolley car arrived to take our group on a tour of the actual locations. The Indian Village will have a new location close to the river. Stampede Trail will become a vibrant entertainment and lifestyle corridor, and a new youth arts campus is in the works. Members left with a special goodie bag that included pancake mix and a "grow your own cowboy" kit.


Special thanks to Hala Dehais of Tourism Calgary who organized this event before she left our board. She will be missed. We are looking forward to meeting the two people who will be taking on her job and hopefully joining us as TMAC members.


The board put together a stellar professional development weekend held May 5 and 6. Registration was the highest it has ever been with 32 participants joining us in Black Diamond and Turner Valley in Alberta's Southwest, to hear speakers like award-winning journalist Shelley Youngblut on How to Make Sponsored and Branded Content Work, Maximizing the Value of Press Trips with a panel of industry and media members, The Pros and Cons of Finding Alternative Markets and Writing Work with writer and teacher Megan Kopp and Travel and the Radio Market with local radio travel show host, Randy Sharman. On the social media front, Mike Morrison of Mike's Bloggity Blog provided tips on "Monetizing Blogs." If that wasn't enough, we enjoyed dinner at Diamond Willow Artisan Retreat, followed by a private house concert by The Wardens, a trio of national park wardens who shared original songs and stories about the history and traditions of Canada's national park warden service.
After some hot tub time and an overnight stay at Diamond Willow, our members had the option of participating in an early morning yoga class, a no-pressure, all-level watercolour class and, after lunch, a tour of the Spirit Hills Honey Winery.
We had a fantastic weekend. Many thanks to Jessica Harcombe-Fleming and Travel Alberta for sponsoring the weekend and to Megan Kopp and her incredible PD committee for putting together our most successful PD weekend to date.


Debra Smith, Alberta chapter co-chair

on_chapterONTARIOThe Ontario board would like to thank the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation for hosting the April 2013 M&M at the CHEESEWERKS Restaurant. Guests were treated to great food, trivia and prizes. Special thanks to Jen Moore and her team for this legen-dairy event!


Looking ahead, we have exciting M&M events for May and July before the summer holiday, with a potential PD Session planned for June. On May 28, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation will let TMAC members know what's new and happening in the City of Brotherly Love at Sassafraz Restaurant. Then in mid-July (exact date to be confirmed), Clarington Tourism will host our annual roadtrip. We will let you know soon about the exciting itinerary planned for the day.


Meanwhile we are still looking for a PD session speaker and host, if you or someone you know would be interested, please email as soon as possible.


A reminder for Ontario media members regarding our Cash for Clips program. We are randomly drawing two $100 prizes from the pool of TMAC Ontario members who send in clips (or mentions, or blogs, or radio segments, etc.) that result from contact with any of the Ontario TMAC Munch & Mingle sponsors or partners.If you have something to submit or any questions, please send a note to Sherri Telenko at


And finally, I wanted to remind all Ontario members about, not only letting the board know if you are unable to attend an M&M event after you have RSVP'd, but also letting us know in advance if you are attending. The hosts take a great deal of consideration in organizing adequate space, food and beverages. We want to make sure they receive an accurate number of guests. Let's show our hosts how great we really are!

Jerry Grymek, Ontario chapter chair

atlantic_chapterATLANTICPlans are in the works for our chapter members to spend a week in Western Newfoundland this coming August for a combined press trip/chapter meeting. We're in the process of working out details with Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism. Plenty of excitement all around!


Sandra Phinney, Atlantic chapter chair

Member_NewsMember News

TMAC member Lois Gerber is pleased to announce that exhibitor registration is now open for the 10th annual Visit Europe Media Exchange (VEMEX). The 2013 lineup is: Toronto on Nov. 15, New York on Nov. 18, and San Francisco on Nov. 20. Information and registration are at:


With the slowly improving economy and a steady rise in the stock market, we believe that there is a pent-up demand for travel to Europe. VEMEX offers TMAC industry member representatives of European destinations and clients an opportunity to expand their PR exposure in North America in a media marketplace series of all-in-one day, all-under-one-roof appointments format with top North American journalists.

Media registration for VEMEX will open this summer. Information: Lois Gerber, 732-222-8128 and

Awards were handed out by the Canadian Tourism Commission at Canada Media Marketplace 2013. There were a number of TMAC members counted among the winners of Canada's Northern Lights Awards for Excellence in Travel Journalism for 2012. How about some applause for:


First Prize - Culinary Print: Amy Rosen for her piece 'Creating a Scene' in Food Arts Magazine

Second Prize - Culinary Print: Remy Scalza for his piece 'Local Culture' in British Columbia Magazine


Four B.C. chapter members - Lucas Aykroyd, John Lee, Michael DeFreitas and Remy Scalza - cleaned up at the NATJA awards in January. Remy won a NATJA Gold Medal (cruise category) for his article on sailing Turkey's Aegean coast in a traditional gulet. As well, Lucas and John both secured weekly columns in The Globe & Mail travel section and John has a monthly column on He has also been commissioned to work on five Lonely Planet guidebooks this year. Congratulations!

Avalon Travel published Carolyn Heller's 430-page Ontario guidebook as part of the Moon Handbooks series and Ursula Maxwell-Lewis has been named Director Emeritus of the Surrey International Writers' Conference.

A story about farming in the North that N.W.T. media member Hélèna Katz wrote for Up Here Business was nominated for a Western Magazine Award. It's one of five finalists in the business writing category.

Media member Jo Matyas is wishful that there is strength in numbers. While the top prize eluded her, she did win two of the runner-up positions in the Ottawa Travel Writing Awards. One was a piece on spending 24 hours in Ottawa for the Toronto Star and the second was on cruising the Rideau Canal for Zoomer magazine.


After nine months slaving away on the back end, Lola Augustine Brown is thrilled to announce the birth of Travel Mindset, the Chicago-based website where she is managing editor. There are articles by many of her TMAC colleagues inside the site, and she'd love everyone to check it out.

Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism is coming up with some quirky approaches to have fun and keep fit in the backcountry, like Portland Creek's new package whereby guests get into the wild via a ski dozer (track machine) to hunt and fish.


Janice Arseneault from Tourism Edmundston Madawaska is happy to announce that Acadia of the Lands and Forests has been selected by the Société Nationale de l'Acadie to host the next World Acadian Congress (WAC) Aug. 8-24 in 2014. The host region includes parts of Quebec, Maine and New Brunswick. The specific counties from N.B. that are involved are Victoria, Restigouche and Madwaska. This is one honkin' big deal. Stay tuned!

AAUnsung Heroes: Susan Mate 
by Mark Stevens



When I was young, I was afraid of snakes. So I bought a pet boa constrictor.

While Susan Mate may not go to such extreme measures, she's chosen an equally effective strategy to combat her own phobia. "I don't like public speaking," she says. "So I became president of the Alberta chapter nearly 10 years ago."

Until you travel with Susan, you might find yourself puzzled at her fortitude - and energy level. Her secret for success is peanut butter. "I sit down to breakfast on a press trip," she admits, "and the jar comes out of my purse."


Please click here to read the article.

FAThe Question of Ethics and Travel Journalism

by Joanne Blain


At the B.C. chapter's professional development day on March 2, professional ethics, for both media and industry members, took centre stage.


Claudia Cornwall, who teaches a course in ethics and legal issues for writers at Simon Fraser University, was one of the day's featured speakers. In a discussion facilitated by former TMAC national president Joanne Sasvari, she said ethics are often a murky issue, with implicit rather than explicit rules and lots of room for misunderstanding. 


Please click here to read the article.

FrenchCollaboration - A Successful Business Approach

by Josephine Matyas and Gary Crallé



When a writer and a photographer do what they do best - together - the results are rewarding. Jo Matyas and Gary Crallé share their experience. 


Our collaboration was serendipitous. On a media trip about a decade ago, we met and found ourselves discussing a mutual interest in architecture. One thing led to another and five months later we grew serious about combining our two areas of expertise. Although we each write and photograph, together we have been able to bring our particular talents to the table and produce an enhanced product.


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.

Travel Media Association of Canada | 55 St. Clair Avenue West - Suite 255 | Toronto | ON | M4V 2Y7 | Canada