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March | April 2014
contentsMarch | April 2014 -

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 Members




Anne Bokma

Anne Bokma Writing & Editing Services Hamilton, ON



Caralyn Campbell

Pacific Newspaper Group

Mayne Island, BC


Denise Davy

Burlington, ON



Veronica Leonard

Belleville, ON



Karen Sealy

Sealy Desing Inc. / Cityline

Toronto, ON





Annette Bagley

Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Bellingham, Washington



Linda Cvetanovic

Tourism Burlington

Burlington, ON


Samantha Geer

Avenue Communications

North Vancouver, BC


Kristine George

Tourism Whistler

Whistler, BC


Scott Henderson

dHz Media

Calgary, AB



Gustavo Rivas-Solis

Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board

New York, NY



Morgan Sommerville

Serena PR

Vancouver, BC



Israel Urbina

Dolphin Discovery Group

Cancun, Mexico



Contributors to This Issue
  • Lola Augustine Brown
  • Jan Feduck
  • Grant Fraser
  • Elizabeth A. Kerr
  • Josephine Matyas
  • Jane Mundy
  • Sandra Phinney
  • Michele Sponagle
  • Mark Stevens
  • Sherri Telenko

Thanks for your contribution!



Here's my frame of mind: Will this winter ever end?


I am sure that many of you share this same thought. Regardless of weather foibles, the seasons they are a changin' and soon spring will be here (it will zip by for sure, with summer close behind).


For now, enjoy this read of TMAC Travels. There's great news, interesting tidbits and some serious challenges to read up on. Do it, and let us know your thoughts.




- Josephine Matyas, TMAC Travels editor

president_reportPresident's Report

As I write this, I'm worried about the future of TMAC. Recent events have made me question whether members are really invested in the organization and its future. One example: British Columbia is the second biggest TMAC chapter in the country with 77 members, yet it has been nearly impossible to find replacements for current chapter chairs Jane Mundy and Carla Mont when they finish their term in May. We have come to a point where questions like, "What happens if there is no one to lead the chapter? Do we fold it? Where would the B.C. chapter funds go?" These are questions I never thought would need to be posed. Fortunately, new member Catherine Roscoe Barr stepped up at the recent PD day, willing to be a co-chair. Another co-chair is still needed.


In Atlantic Canada, there was a similar scenario. Current provincial chapter chair Lola Augustine Brown had a serious health scare and was possibly facing surgery and an extended recovery period. Planning for such an event, Lola put out a call to all members for a possible replacement and the silence was deafening. Crisis averted when her health problems resolved themselves and Lola agreed to stay on as chapter chair.


I now also face a situation where I need to find a replacement for myself. Vice president Jo Matyas informed me that she would not be moving into the president's position this May. She feels that she is not the right person to lead TMAC into the next year. I respect her decision, but it has left TMAC without a successor for president. And based on what I see happening around me at the chapter level, I know that finding someone is going to be tougher than trying to get a comp airfare out of Air Canada.


Make no mistake about it. Volunteers are TMAC's life blood. We are a non-profit organization that leans heavily on its members to make the day-to-day functioning of TMAC happen. The professional development days don't happen magically by themselves. There's a team of volunteers behind it. The same is true of Ontario's Munch & Mingle events, member applications, compiling the handbook, serving on the national board and committees, researching new membership benefits, etc. To all those volunteers who have contributed to TMAC to date, I sincerely thank you for giving a sh*t to help out.


While it's true that we have a management company, TO Corp, to do some of the heavy lifting around conferences, bookkeeping, membership renewals/requalifications, etc., TMAC still needs volunteers. I fear that we've become complacent, believing that TO Corp will pick up the slack (and they will, if we pay them) or some other member will volunteer. It's no coincidence that our management fees from TO Corp have climbed significantly in the last eight years while member engagement seems to be waning. It's a trend the current board finds alarming and is trying to stop. But we need everyone's help to do that.


If you've been a TMAC member for a while and have never volunteered, why not? Seriously. If you're still a member, you recognize the value of TMAC and have enjoyed some of the perks of membership. I am not going to sugar coat this. You have a duty to give back and to invest in health of the organization. Pure and simple.


I didn't really understand that until I became part of the membership committee and then when I became part of the national board as vice president, media, I finally got it. There are many things that need to be done to keep the organization humming. When I'm no longer president, I will continue to volunteer and do my part. How about you?


How can you help? There are ways big and small. Contact me, or your chapter chair, and we'll show you how.


What TMAC needs right now:

  • a B.C. chapter co-chair
  • a president for 2014/2015
  • members to run for election for the new board
  • a volunteer committee chair, someone who can help find help where needed as needed for various tasks, like updating the editor's list and assisting various committees (communications, member benefits, membership...)
  • help on the membership benefits committee (see Liz Campbell's message below)

Please step up and step in.


 - Michele Sponagle, TMAC national president


FinanceFinance Report

There is no quarterly financial report for this newsletter. The board is currently working with TO Corp to finalize our 2014 and 2015 budgets. I will provide a report on our first quarter results in our next newsletter.


- Grant Fraser, TMAC national treasurer


awards_sponsorsGenerous sponsors of the 2013 TMAC Awards!


chapter_newsChapter News
BRITISH COLUMBIA - On the heels of our successful (and first out of town) PD Day last November we held another on March 8 at the Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Vancouver. Thanks to our board's hard work we had a sold-out crowd, including a handful of new recruits.


Our keynote speaker, Tom Gierasimczuk, editor-in chief at BCBusiness magazine, talked about monetizing and marketing journalism, and new ways to build brands by collaboration with the PR industry. A panel discussion, The Ins and Outs of Instagram, featured professionals in the field, and we had two informative round tables. New member Catherine Roscoe-Barr is also a motivational/life coach. She focused on how to get the life you want, tools to navigate through life when you are pulled in a million different directions, balance and how to manage stress. Don't we all need some of that?

Last, but not least, we have our sponsors to thank for making this day possible: The Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver, Northern British Columbia Tourism, Bellstar Hotels & Resorts and Destination British Columbia.


And a big thanks to The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Tourism Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb and Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Tourism for last November's event where more than 60 attendees, including several SATW members, converged at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for two days of education, networking and fun! Given that we have less than 80 members in our B.C. Chapter, this was a great turnout.


Thanks to the feedback from Survey Monkey sent out to our members a few months beforehand, the B.C. board was confident that we could attract a substantial number of attendees - many of whom expressed an interest in travelling beyond Vancouver. I've already been approached by several industry members interested in hosting a weekend on the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island or the Okanagan.


On the national scene, I recently put together a sponsorship document (some of it pilfered from national with thanks!) and shared it with our chapter chairs. The conference calls set up by Ontario's Elizabeth Kerr have been great, and a long time coming, for more sharing amongst our chapters.


- Jane Mundy, B.C. chapter co-chair 

ab_chapterALBERTA & N.W.T. No report at this time.



Double Nation Destination

Looking to head east this summer - and writing great stuff about it? Considering an international destination? Then you should have joined the Ontario chapter for the January Munch & Mingle.


New Brunswick and Maine worked together to present attendees with the appeals of this gorgeous stretch of the Maritimes, an area that embraces history and culture along with the allure of the Bay of Fundy and unspoiled natural retreats.


The region is a go-to destination for both nature lovers and adventurers and the team put together a presentation graciously hosted at Holiday Inn Downtown Centre that included local flavours and a comprehensive introduction.


Thanks go out to Tourism New Brunswick and Maine Tourism Office for displays and insider tips that re-introduced TMAC members to the allures of New Brunswick (many of whom experienced it at a recent AGM) and introduced members to a place so appealing Franklin Roosevelt summered there for many years.


Pittsburgh or Bust!

The new Royal Ontario Museum addition is a sight to behold with its crystal style architecture and grand lobby, complete with a dinosaur skeleton. And then there is 5C, a spectacular event venue on the 5th level deep inside that magical crystal itself. It was here that on Feb. 18, 2014, more than 60 Ontario chapter members were treated to refreshments and a return visit by our AGM hosts, the City of Pittsburgh. Connie George from Pittsburgh took the microphone to remind us of the warm welcome we will receive in the historic river city, as well as its stunning attractions both during the AGM and on the pre- and post-tours.



We encourage all TMAC Ontario Facebook members to invite fellow TMAC Ontario members to join.


Professional Development

We have had such a successful year with our M&Ms and our wonderful hosts, we are aware that we have not offered up a PD session. We continue to investigate options and opportunities and welcome your ideas. Please send to Tracy Ford ( Thank you for ideas already sent. They will be included in our upcoming PD /member survey.


Upcoming M&Ms*

AprilHamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association
MayTMAC Conference & AGM
JuneVisit Florida
JulyRoad Trip Opening
SeptEaton Chelsea
OctPD Day (To Be Planned)
NovVisit California
DecTMAC Ontario Holiday Cheers Event


* Some hosts and dates to be confirmed.



For more information and to book a Munch & Mingle, please contact Munch & Mingle Liaison, Jerry Grymek (


New Member Incentive Program

At the Jan. 2014 M&M, Kimberly Hartley ( announced TMAC Ontario's New Member Incentive Program. The program began Feb. 1 and applies to qualified media or industry new members who have joined by the Dec. M&M (at which point the prizes will be awarded.) 

  • All those who introduce one member will be entered into a draw to win a $50 Visa card.
  • All those who introduce two or more members will be entered into a draw to win a $100 Visa card.
  • The person who recruits the most members will receive a $200 Visa card. 

At any time, feel free to contact me with any comments or suggestions @ or call me at 416-258-9948.


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


atlantic_chapterATLANTICThe Atlantic Chapter held its first meeting of the year on its Facebook page, where Sandra Phinney moderated discussions on everything from delegation of chapter tasks, news from membership, tactics for selling stories, and the next few meetings we have lined up. After a slow start, the majority of the membership joined in the discussions and headway was made on pressing chapter issues. Our next meeting will be held in Edmundston on or around June 25-28. 


- Lola Augustine Brown, Atlantic chapter chair


member_newsMember News
CLEAR Communications Inc. added three new Canadian tourism clients in late 2013. They are Northumberland County
Tourism, Ontario, The Waring House Inn & Cookery School, Prince Edward County, Ontario, and Montréal en Lumière, Canada's premiere winter food event. CLEAR Communications also works with Ontario Parks. 


Please update your contact list: media member Laura Byrne Paquet has a new email address:


Michael DeFreitas ( recently won a number of 2014 NATJA writing and photography awards including:

  • Gold: Travel Tips & Advice writing award: Ten Top Travel Tips, for PhotoNews Magazine
  • Finalist: Travel Tips & Advice writing award: Go Wide for PhotoNews Magazine
  • Gold: Landscape photography award: Go Wide for PhotoNews Magazine
  • Gold: People Portrait photography award: The Rule of Thirds, for Just for Canadian Dentists Magazine
  • Bronze: Overall Excellence in photography: Go Wide for PhotoNews Magazine
  • Finalist: Overall Excellence in photography: Ten Top Travel Tips, for PhotoNews Magazine

Dale Dunlop (media) has just revamped and launched his website, The Maritime Explorer at


Janice Arseneault (industry) representing Edmundston Madawaska reports that the Comfort Inn Edmundston just did a huge reno, including new contemporary rooms, marble granite vanities in the bathroom, newly designed business area and breakfast café (complimentary full hot breakfast), complimentary high speed Internet and parking.


Cathy Stapells has officially joined Visit Britain as a full-time staffer. She was working there on a contract basis as PR & Communications Manager - Canada; but was recently hired on permanently. Say hello to her at

The results are in from the 2013 Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award! Congratulations to Karan Smith for her entry, Canadian War Museum a moving reminder, which appeared on Josephine Matyas makes the podium for the second year in a row with her entry, Rideau Canal Cruise the ultimate laid back summer trip, which appeared in the Toronto Sun.


Unsung Heroes: Liz Campbell
By Sandra Phinney
Liz Campbell

When Liz Campbell was invited to a Munch & Mingle in Toronto back in 2000, her first impression was, "What a great bunch of people!" At the time, Liz was an editor at City Parent, and did a bit of travel writing; it didn't take her long to join the fold. Her mantra's always been, "If you join an organization, you should contribute to it."


Putting her words into action, Liz joined the Ontario board and, soon afterwards, took on the role of organizing professional development sessions with Sherri Telenko. She and Gary Crallé also organized a joint session with SATW at Google which was a huge success, and she hopes TMAC can create more joint opportunities with SATW to share PD sessions.

Please click here to read the entire article.

inquisitiveInquisitive Minds Want to Know

By Jan Feduck


Come on. We know you've got one. 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 a three or four questions with witty, brilliant, interesting and insightful answers from our members. Send your questions to Q and A editor, media member Jan Feduck, at


This month's question was sent to our new TMAC media members. Here are the replies received, the others must be travelling.


"How could TMAC as an organization or its members best help you in your writing career?" 


Tara Nolan - Freelance Writer, web editor for Canadian Gardening replied:

TMAC can best help me by providing networking opportunities that connect me with fellow writers, travel editors and travel media, and by offering professional development opportunities so I can keep on top of industry trends (i.e. social media, iPad editions, etc.)


Catherine Roscoe Barr - Freelance Writer - Vancouver, British Columbia, wrote:

For me, networking opportunities are really important. Making face-to-face connections takes professional relationships to the next level. There's more familiarity, there's more trust - there's more work!


Miriam Porter -  Freelance Writer - Toronto, Ontario wrote:

It would be a help to have a writing mentor that is currently working and has a lot of knowledge and experience to offer advice. 



By Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens

It was a dark and stormy night when I began this article. Whether the preceding is an eloquent example of a scene-setting lede or just a metaphor for my state of mind in trying to come up with the perfect beginning for a discussion of beginnings, it does the trick.


Don't you agree?


But on to Act One. A quick review of the types of ledes - and awareness of same in your own work - is always useful. What do you think will happen if every story you read in your target publication starts with a "telling anecdote" and your pitch begins with a fun fact? And consider this: practice in lede-writing - and critical awareness of the possibilities - will make it easier to write pitches (since most of us begin our pitches with ledes anyway). Furthermore, a good lede shapes your story design and tells you what to include and exclude. And, for me, the lede helps me define my nut graf.


I've had some great discussions with other writers about this issue. Whereas I can't start a story until I have both lede and title down, another TMAC writer doesn't bother with titles until the end but has to know the lede. Someone else in TMAC is often able to write a good part of the copy before even doing the lede. Not me.


Please click here to read the entire article.


bloggingMy Adventure in Blogging: Year One
By Sherri Telenko
Sherri Telenko

I admit it: I am no blogging expert. But one year ago I decided to give it a try because sometimes trial and error (along with a copy of WordPress for Dummies) is the best teacher.


I began by attending a seminar at a TMAC AGM about how to set up a blog using Wordpress, then I bought a domain using my own name (yes, creative). Then I sat on that address for more than a year before I took the next step: buying the Dummies book.


I've learned a few lessons in this past year. Here are some of them.


1. Use a blog instead of clips - The first blog I created was an online portfolio of my writing that has appeared in print. I now use it instead of sending out old-fashioned clips. However I've discovered that few people notice the "previously published in print" part and assume it's a personal blog. It's not important to me how many followers I get for this blog, only that anyone who asks can see my clips. It's been quasi useful for this purpose.


2. Register your name ASAP - The second blog I created is, dedicated to travel, trail riding and horses. It also sits on (not org), but this time I registered the domain name because there's original content there. Someone is sitting on the .com version and wants $2000 for it. So that's my first learning curve: a lot of blog or website names are already taken - some by bloggers, and others by someone looking to flip them. If you have a good idea for a name, or a series that's dependent on related names, reserve them sooner than later.


Please click here to read the entire article.

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 T.O Corporate Services 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 every 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