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September | October 2013
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Inside TMAC Travels
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bod2013-14 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


Jo Matyas (media)

Phone: 613-546-6266


Grant Fraser (media)

Phone: 905-844-7666



Dan Young (industry)

Public Relations Manager - CANADA, Starwood Hotels &

Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Phone: 416-947-4955 ext. 4458



Joanne Blain (media)

Joanne Blain Creative Services Ltd



Glenn Cameron (industry)

PR Consultant, Clear Communications

Phone: 416-920-5817


Liz Campbell (media)

Phone: 416-207-9150


Mark Stevens (media)

Phone: 905-583-0059




Deb Smith (media)

D. Smith Ink Ltd.

Phone: 403-245-1239



Lola Augustine Brown  (media)

Phone: 902-412-3100



Jane Mundy (media) 

Phone: 604-251-4443



Elizabeth Kerr (media)

Phone: 416-258-9948


Anne Marshall (industry)

Phone: 705-295-4591 

New_MemberNew Members


Beverley Horodyski

Tourism Sarnia Lambton



Carol Horne

Conderation Centre of the Arts



Michelle Jefferson

City of Vernon 





Joseph Frey



Steve Gillick



Jen Maier



Colleen Nicholson



Sandra Thomas





contributorsContributors to This Issue
  • Joanne Blain
  • Lola Augustine Brown
  • Jan Feduck
  • Anne Marie Forcier
  • Grant Fraser
  • Susan Mate
  • Josephine Matyas
  • Doreen Pendgracs
  • Sandra Phinney
  • Debra Smith
  • Michele Sponagle




Thanks for your contribution!

Dear  :

If your experience is TMAC-normal, you've been dusting off your luggage and pawing through drawers for your passport. The autumn travel season has begun and TMAC members are spread across the planet, doing "what we do."

Hope this issue of TMAC Travels finds you thriving and enjoying yourself (whether in your home office, in a far flung region of the country/world, or on a plane, bus, train or boat).

Safe travels and productive writing.  




- Josephine Matyas, TMAC Travels editor

President's Report

How did you spend your summer? I hope that members had a chance to take a vacation of some sort. The irony is that, as travel professionals, we rarely take holidays like "normal" people, i.e. no schedule and media kits to lug back home. And our notebooks are never too far out of reach. In some ways, we are never fully off duty and story ideas happen when we don't expect them. Ah, the joys of being a sponge for the world around us. That's a good thing because, no matter what side of the fence you work on - industry or media, creativity fuels us. 

I've been wondering lately what has happened to creativity in travel writing over the last 10 years. It's clear that there has been a monumental shift from traditional media (print, newspapers and the like) to websites and social media. And really these days, it's a question of fighting a losing battle against the tide or going with it and reaping the benefits. I know there is some push back against social media and bloggers among our membership. I get that.

Some blogs are embarrassingly bad and amount to grade 6 "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essays assigned on the first day back at school. They reek of vanity. I have a blog because I can. I have a blog because I own a computer and have a heartbeat, plus basic motor skills. Those are the type that infuriates travel media professionals. 

At the TBEX conference last spring, newbies to social media showed up to see what the fuss was about, along with veteran bloggers and industry folks. It was a huge conference and generated plenty of fuss and buzz. Some industry folks questioned the calibre of the attendees and told me that thought about 10 per cent were the real deal, committed to creating good travel content. It's that layer of cream that would be a fit for TMAC.

I really do think that TMAC has got to get with the times and welcome that top tier. The industry wants them and media members I feel are on the fence for good reason. We are now competing with bloggers for assignments, spots on media fam trips and for readers/followers. And for those people who have English and journalism degrees and have been slogging away in travel media for eons, the fact that an amateur blogger can be successful without any of that kind of street cred stings.

In the near future, I'd like to see TMAC take another look at our membership criteria especially for social media and blogging to make sure that we don't miss that top tier. It's time to stop fighting the tide and to strengthen the organization by welcoming fresh voices from the social media front. This isn't a move to open the floodgates, but it's a marked shift in knowing that if TMAC is to thrive we need to evolve. 

That's what I've been thinking about on my summer vacation . . .


- Michele Sponagle, TMAC national president


Finance and Governance Report

As of July 31, 2013, TMAC revenues were $220,426. This figure is comprised of membership revenue ($82,114), conference revenue ($115,149) and other revenue ($23,162). Compared to the same period last year, revenues are down 9.7% ($244,191 July 2012). Total revenues were down in all three revenue categories.

Total expenses were $202,035 compared to $159,744 for the same period in 2012. Total expenses are comprised of administrative expenses ($93,518) and conference expenses ($108,517). Management fees account for the largest amount of administrative expenses ($55,323) and venue (conference location) accounts for the largest conference expense ($49,200). Much of the increase in the total expense figure can be attributed to a 26.4% increase in 2013 conference expenses from the previous year ($108,517 vs. $66,838).

Net income for the period is also down year-over-year. As of July 31, 2013 net income was $18,391 vs. $84,447 a year ago.

Total assets for the period were $79,088 vs. $153,726 a year ago. This decrease is primarily due to lower cash and investment balances.

- Grant Fraser, TMAC national treasurer    

Conference Committee Report

The results of this year's post-conference survey are in and we're listening. Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to our questions about your experience in Saskatoon - it's given us lots of information and ideas for next year's event in Pittsburgh.

The good news is that more than 95 per cent of those who responded rated their 2013 conference experience as either good, great or excellent. That's a testament to the hard work of our conference committee and our fabulous hosts, Tourism Saskatoon and Tourism Saskatchewan.

In terms of your decision to attend the conference, more than 97 per cent of you told us that the media marketplace was important or very important - it's your number one reason for attending, but social networking and professional development sessions were also highly ranked. And we hear you - price matters, as does the profile of the other attendees. They're even more important to you than the conference location.

More than 95 per cent of you liked the media marketplace split over two days, which we tried out this year in response to your input. So expect to see that next year in Pittsburgh if we can swing it, and in response to your feedback, we'll try to hold it on two consecutive mornings, which a bit more than half of you would prefer (most others had no preference). And thanks for your feedback on the appointment scheduling process - it seems to be working well for most of you, but there's always room for improvement.

Thanks as well for telling us what you thought of the PD sessions and your suggestions for what you'd like to see next year - we're paying attention. We're glad to hear most of you liked this year's new roundtable discussions and we appreciate your input on how to improve them. We also got the message that a lot of you weren't crazy about this year's keynote speaker, so we'll try to make sure next year's headliner is more relevant to our members.

All three receptions and dinners got high marks, especially the closing gala, which had to be moved inside the Delta Bessborough due to the torrential rain. You were impressed that our hosts pulled off such a smooth backup plan, and we were too!

It seems like most people think May, June and April (in that order) are the ideal time of year for future conferences. We'll keep that in mind, as well as your suggestions for future venues.

Finally, we're happy to hear that almost 60 per cent of you say that "yes, absolutely" you'll be attending the 2014 event in Pittsburgh, May 28 to 31. And 93 per cent of you said you would "most likely" or "absolutely" recommend the conference experience to others, so spread the word!

- Survey summary, as prepared by Joanne Blain, conference committee 2013 member



Many thanks to the following sponsors of the 

2012 TMAC Awards for their generous support!


To learn about sponsoring a TMAC Award category in 2014, 

please email






ChapterNewsChapter News
BRITISH COLUMBIA - No report submitted. 


- Jane Mundy, B.C. chapter co-chair



- After a spring flood that swept some of our Calgary TMAC members off our feet, it's good to see that things are almost back to normal. Tourism Calgary has proudly announced that the city, including many of our TMAC industry members, is "Open for Business." The River Cafe, a popular island retreat on the banks of the Bow River, has surfaced, the Calgary Zoo has rounded up the hippos and is moving ahead with new plans for their site and the Yellow Door Bistro at Hotel Arts is swinging open, to name a few. Sunshine Village, another TMAC industry member, will be open for the ski season although fewer hikers will be able to visit the popular hiking trails of Sunshine Meadows due to reconstruction efforts. 
It hasn't been easy for many of us who were directly affected by the flood and the residual effects will take months if not years to resolve. One thing that will remain is the memory of the hundreds of volunteers who came out like a swarm of worker bees, heading for the worst hit areas and spending day after day ripping out wet drywall, shovelling out basements and saving what they could of people's treasured mementos. They fed and sheltered our friends and neighbours and continue to help with donations, fundraisers and celebrations of renewal, large and small.

Now that the worst is over, we're looking forward to getting back together and welcoming new members at our chapter Munch & Mingles. Our new M&M Coordinator, Ashley Meller of Travel Alberta already has some surprises planned. We've been there, done that and got the Calgary Stampede t-shirt - Come Hell or High Water - TMAC Alberta & NWT is ready for some fun.


- Debra Smith, Alberta chapter co-chair


on_chapterONTARIONo report submitted.


 - Elizabeth Kerr, media member and Ontario chapter co-chair 


atlantic_chapterATLANTICHello from the Maritimes. In my first report as Atlantic chapter head, I can tell you all that our annual meeting was wonderful, although I wasn't able to be there. So, this report from Sandra Phinney: Seven media members and Gillian Marx spent a week in Gros Morne this past August, compliments of Tourism Newfoundland, Go Western Newfoundland and Marine Atlantic. The focus was the Woody Point Writers Festival. We were run ragged (our choice) and had a whompin' good time. Only complaint - time goes too quickly in Newfoundland. George Burden adds that he had a lucky escape, as he came within six inches of hitting a moose on the TCH at a 100 kph coming back from Newfoundland.

- Lola Augustine Brown, Atlantic chapter chair


Member_NewsMember News

1.  TMAC industry member Ted Flett has had an exciting 2013. In the spring, we were sorry to see Ted go to New York City but delighted by his promotion at VisitBritain to director of PR & communications for the U.S. Even more recently, Ted has announced that he is leaving the world of travel media altogether in pursuit of a career in law. He begins studies this fall at the University of New Brunswick's law school in Fredericton, New Brunswick.


"I'm both excited and nervous but I know this is the right decision," Ted says. He joined TMAC in 2002 while at Tourism Hamilton, had a major hand in hosting the 2005 TMAC Conference in Hamilton and served on TMAC's board of directors from 2006 to 2010, including the roles of vice president and treasurer. He partly credits his TMAC board experience as motivating the career move.


"Serving TMAC in a leadership capacity was hugely rewarding and helped spark an interest in policy development, governance, contract negotiations, advising and advocacy, all areas of law that I'm keen to explore. I fondly recall friendly debate with former board colleagues like Cathy Stapells, John Masters and Jo Matyas on what is in the best interests of TMACers. I will take those experiences and lessons into the classroom at UNB! And I will miss my fellow TMAC members greatly."


Ted invites colleagues to stay in touch via LinkedIn.




2.  Ontario media member Habeeb Salloum has co-authored two new books published in 2013. They are:



3.  Sandra Phinney's photo essay about Innu elder, Elizabeth Penashue, was accepted for publication in a book titled The Other Hundred. This story was inspired by a camping excursion last year  when Sandra had the privilege of having some time with Mrs. Penashue, in Grand Lake, Labrador.



4. Photos from the Ontario chapter trip to hospitable Clarington!


Henny Groenendijk of the Netherlands Board of Tourism was spotted trying her luck at fishing. Next time she hopes to do it over actual water!


Intrepid TMACers getting the inside scoop on zip-lining at Tree Top Trekking.
 Back to Table of Contents 
DaleDunlopUnsung Heroes: Neil Bousquet
By Susan Mate



Neil Bousquet is a busy guy! Here he is with a championship trophy won by his Oliver Legion Mixed Sr. Slo-pitch team. Neil volunteers his PR expertise to the team.  


 Some call it one of the great Alberta tourism mysteries, perhaps ranking right up there with the lore of the dinosaurs. Nobody really knows exactly how it quite evolved, but the question still lingers today.


"Which came first? TMAC Alberta, or Neil Bousquet?"


Those who helped found the Alberta/N.W.T. chapter a decade ago remember the early days (around 2004) when the personable PR practitioner would call us, our editors and darn near everyone else on the newsroom staff list until he found a receptive ear.

 "I have a great story for you," he'd say before launching into a passionate pitch for one of his clients, who back then included the formerly fledgling Rosebud Theatre and Canadian Badlands Passion Play. Every call and voicemail ended the same way: "And have yourself a FAN-tabulous day!"


"Who IS this guy?" writers began asking each other. "He calls himself the PR Wizard!" would be the inevitable response. "And he knows how to pitch a story."


Please click here to read the entire article.

MindsInquisitive Minds Want To Know

By Jan Feduck


In the last issue of TMAC Travels I asked the winners and runners up in the TMAC writing and photography competition for some "winning tips." I have more to share with you at this time.  


Click here  to read the full article including photography tips from award winners John Sylvester and  Remy Scalza.



Submitted by Anne Marie Forcier from a Parcs Canada release


Que propose-t-on?

Un projet de partenariat auquel participera l'ensemble de la communauté pour élaborer de nouveaux concepts d'expérience qui serviront à créer une assise en vue d'une collaboration et d'une prise de mesures visant à renforcer la viabilité financière du canal Rideau et des collectivités adjacentes.


Qui dirigera le projet?

Un comité de partenaires a été mis sur pied composé de Parcs Canada, la Table ronde sur le canal Rideau, la Rideau Heritage Route Tourism Association, les Comtés unis de Leeds et de Grenville, le comté de Lanark, la Valley Heartland Community Futures Development Corporation et la ville de Smiths Falls.


En quoi consistera le projet?

Ce projet comporte plusieurs étapes. 

Please click here to read the entire article.


Crowdfunding Isn't Easy, But With Effort, It Can Work For You

By Doreen Pendgracs


I recently published my fourth book, but this one was different. I published it myself! And that was only possible because I chose to crowdfund the printing, editorial, and design costs to produce the first volume of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate.


Using the crowdfunding platform, I was able to launch a campaign to ask the world to help me raise those funds. I had to use Indiegogo because when I launched my campaign last March, Kickstarter wasn't available to Canadian residents. That recently changed, so you now have a choice.



Please click here to read the entire article.


Thanks to:



Joanne Blain

Lola Augustine Brown

Jan Feduck

Anne Marie Forcier 

Grant Fraser

Susan Mate

Josephine Matyas

Doreen Pendgracs

Sandra Phinney

Debra Smith

Michele Sponagle




TMAC Travels - Newsletter Submission Guidelines
TMAC Travels is published bi-monthly. 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 $100, 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