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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



Catherine Roscoe Barr (media) 

Phone: 778-828-9190



Elizabeth Kerr (media)

Phone: 416-258-9948


Anne Marshall (industry)

Phone: 705-295-4591 

New Members




Maureen Dennis

Wee Welcome Inc.

Caledon, ON



Claudio DeMarchi

Traveling Golfer

Nottawa, ON





Noelle Aune

Noelle Aune Communications

Calgary, AB


Mindy Bianca

Gillies and Zaiser Public Relations York, PA



Mitémo Chevalier

Charlevoix Tourism

La Malbaie, QC



Colleen Finnegan

Finnegan Communications Inc. Toronto, ON 


Luba Plotnikoff

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre

Parksville, BC


Kelly Rapone

Haunted History Trail of New York State

Batavia, NY



Carl Whitehill

Destination Gettysburg

Gettysburg, PA  


Contributors to This Issue
  • Jan Feduck

  • Anne-Marie Forcier

  • Grant Fraser

  • Elizabeth A. Kerr

  • Josephine Matyas

  • Sandra Phinney

  • Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Debra Smith

  • Michele Sponagle

Thanks for your contribution!



Plenty to think about in this month's newsletter. Looking forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh - where the discussions can continue! 




- Josephine Matyas, TMAC Travels editor

president_reportPresident's Report

After two years as TMAC president and one year as vice president, I am wrapping up my stay on the national board. I am surprised how much I enjoyed my time shaping and guiding the organization. I learned much during the process. Here are five things that I know now because of it: 

  1. I don't have time is a bogus excuse. I used to avoid doing anything for TMAC for almost 10 years. I was busy trying to make a living, travelling, and running a household. No time to volunteer. It's amazing what you fit in when you want to. Hours will bend under the pressure of your desire to accomplish things. I am not going to let myself lean on this as an out strategy anymore. I can. I will.
  2. The writing business I knew and loved is gone. There's a new normal in town and it's something I barely recognize. Participation in social media is no longer an option. It's a must. It's expected of someone who is serious about being a travel journalist. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just not really how I want to spend my time, but I do it, accept it and am learning to enjoy it.
  3. The new normal is sitting on shifting sand. There are so many moving pieces right now in the media landscape. We have still not settled on anything that resembles normal. I believe that the number of travel blogs will become stagnant as bloggers realize there are not piles of money to be made (at least not for 90 per cent of them). I think print will continue to shrink, but not disappear, as more magazine and newspapers shift to digital only versions. I think being a freelance creator of travel content will continue to be difficult and challenging, as our work continues to be devalued by a glut of supply and a dearth of demand. Fair paying markets will require mining and ingenuity to find and to secure.
  4. I am not as introverted as I thought. I've been open about how I didn't really want to be president of TMAC. It wasn't my thing. I don't like rules and politics. I didn't like to be the centre of attention. I was more comfortable observing and processing. But I did really feel a sense of duty when it came to volunteering to assist the organization I had been a member of for over a decade and did nothing to help. So I agreed reluctantly when Joanne Sasvari asked me to be vice-president, media. It pushed my personal limits and forced me into the role of participant, rather than observer. And I managed. I learned about the many moving parts of TMAC and tried to make them work more efficiently. Finances were a tough beast to tame. After two years of ripping apart and questioning, I feel like they are now where they need to be. And I think we will soon have a sensible strategy in place for accepting bloggers into TMAC - one that strikes a balance between wise growth and staying true to the organization's commitment to being comprised of high calibre media professionals. And I'm proud of that.
  5. If TMAC is to survive and thrive, it needs more participation from its members. I've written on this before and I feel as strongly as ever about how imperative it is for members to volunteer. Without the membership doing more of the work in running the organization, the fees paid to TO Corp, our management company, will climb and membership dues will need to follow suit to keep up. That's the reality. I get that now. That's why I will continue to participate in TMAC committees. And the truth is, it can be fun and satisfying. Don't be a dummy like me and take 10 years to learn this. Please jump in... Help your local chapter, consider running in the next election. I promise it won't hurt and that you, like me, will glean many rewarding experiences and you will learn a lot. Thank you to the board members I served with and to you, TMAC members, for all your support.


- Michele Sponagle, TMAC national president 


FinanceFinance Report

TMAC 2013 Year End Treasurer's Report

The following report is based on the audited year-end financial information provided by TOCS.

For the year ending December 31, 2013, TMAC's total assets were $114,719 vs. $123,630 a year ago.

Total TMAC revenues were $224,665. Compared to the same period last year, revenues were down $23,583 or 9.5% ($248,248 as of December 31, 2012). This figure is comprised of membership revenue ($86,622), conference revenue ($114,824) and other revenue ($23,219). Total revenues were down in all three revenue categories.

Total expenses were $262,739 compared to $249,737 for the same period in 2012. Management fees account for the largest amount of administrative expenses ($102,718) and venue (conference location) accounts for the largest conference expense ($84,956) followed by the website/conference registration site (3-Way Street) of $33,504.

TMAC's net loss was considerably larger in 2013 compared to 2012. As of December 31, 2013, TMAC's net loss was $38,074 compared to a loss of $1,489 a year ago.

The board is aware that losses of this size are not acceptable. It has prepared and approved a budget for 2014 that should see TMAC break even this year. With our proposed 2015 budget, it is expected that TMAC should return to a healthier, surplus position. 


- Grant Fraser, TMAC national treasurer


awards_sponsorsThank you to our Conference and TMAC Awards sponsors!



chapter_newsChapter News
BRITISH COLUMBIA - I'm excited to share the new 2014 TMAC BC chapter board with you, and especially excited to be part of the board myself!

* Co-chair: Andrea Visscher (industry) 
* Co-chair: Catherine Roscoe Barr (media) 
* Vice president: Barb Sligl (media) 
* Secretary: Liz Sperandeo (industry) 
* Treasurer: Morgan Sommerville (industry) 
* Event coordinator: Nathan Fong (media) 
* Event coordinator: Dee Raffo (industry) 
* Member at large: Lucas Aykroyd (media) 
* Member at large: Michelle Dunn (industry) 
* Member at large: Heather McEachen (industry) 
* Member at large: Samantha Geer (industry)

Huge thanks to outgoing board members Jane Mundy and Carla Mont! We have large shoes to fill -- as a new member, I'm sure I don't even know the half of it yet -- but we are fortunate to have an amazing team.  
- Catherine Roscoe Barr, B.C. chapter co-chair

ab_chapterALBERTA & N.W.T. April was a busy month for TMAC Alberta & N.W.T. members. We kicked off with a Munch & Mingle on April 1 at WURST Uberkitchen and Wunderbar. They're celebrating spring with a fresh new look after renovations due to last year's flood.  Executive chef Grant Parry and chef de cuisine Rudiger Schmid had us lost in a blissful translation of Bavarian communal table culture and hearty German dishes. Our media and industry members enjoyed the tempting charcuterie boards and got into the spirit of things by hoisting a few of the 20 varieties of hand selected beers.


Our annual Professional Development weekend in Lake Louise took place on April 26 and 27. With a theme of "Head in the Clouds, Feet on the Ground," our group of 22 got tips on the latest apps, gear and software to increase productivity on the road plus how to find hidden markets and generate new outlets from writer/editor Omar Mouallem, (The Walrus, enRoute, VICE, Globe and Mail, and past editor at Edmonton's Avenue). The keynote presentation by Parks Canada highlighted new ways for visitors and locals to "Experience Proper Awesome" in beautiful Banff National Park, from lantern tours of the Cave and Basin Historic Site to seminars on how to do camping up right. 


Our own Carol Patterson, board member, travel writer, motivational speaker and videographer extraordinaire introduced us to the art of making exciting videos with storyboarding, editing and music. Carol's company Kalahari Management Inc. also co-sponsored our morning break with Brad Raibey of The Carbon Farmer. To offset our PD weekend carbon emissions, The Carbon Farmer is planting a TMAC AB & NWT forest.  Brad also presented on how their international Guest Treewards program can help industry connect with their guests while restoring the environment. Our Instagram Scavenger Hunt was a fun team building activity that got us outdoors (in the snow) testing our sleuthing and social media skills.


Our dinner was held in Deer Lodge, a 90-year-old, hand hewn log and stone mountain property, courtesy of Banff Lake Louise Tourism and Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. After a superb meal, and a round of prize presentations courtesy of BLLT, we enjoyed a one-woman show about Alpine Club of Canada founder Elizabeth Parker, performed by Mountain WIT of Parks Canada. The next day, Brewster Travel treated us to a sneak peek of the newest attraction in the park, the Glacier Skywalk. Stepping out on the glass walkway suspended 900 feet above Sunwapta Valley was a thrill and our members were pitching stories about it as soon as we were in Wi-Fi range again. Many thanks to all our sponsors and our board members for making this event a success.


All in all, our PD sessions proved to be enlightening, entertaining and exciting and we're looking forward to next year's event.  Our board will be seeing some changes with Megan Kopp, our PD organizer stepping down after doing an amazing job both with the PD and as chapter rep on the monthly phone calls. Jessica Harcombe Fleming is pleased to be back at Travel Alberta, one of our major supporters, after her maternity leave. As her focus is turning to the U.S., she will be leaving our board after over six years of dedicated volunteering. Many thanks to Megan and Jessica for their dedication, organization and drive. We'll miss you both. 


We'd like to welcome our newest members, Kymberley Hill, Senior Manager, travel media relations at Banff Lake Louise Tourism and Jeff Bartlett, media member, photographer and outdoor adventure enthusiast based in Jasper. It was lovely to meet Kymberley at our PD weekend. Jeff, we're looking forward to meeting you in person soon.

- Debra Smith, Alberta & N.W.T. chapter board member  

on_chapterONTARIO The April Munch & Mingle was hosted by Hamilton Halton Brant Tourism and was held at the Pravda Vodka Bar on Wellington Street. Fifty-five TMAC members and guests attended. We had a number of NO SHOWS and a few GO SHOWS. E-mails have been sent to the NO SHOWS reminding them of our three-strike policy.


At the event, we held our AGM and I am delighted to announce that seven members of the 2013/2014 board are returning and that returning member Steve Gillick has joined us. The new board will meet prior to the Sept. Munch & Mingle to determine roles.


We have confirmed hosts for all 2014 events except for our Christmas party for which we will be putting a committee together to organize.


We have officially designated October as PD month for 2014 and will be sending out a request for ideas, format and venue in the next couple of week followed by a Survey Monkey to confirm priorities and interests. Results will be discussed at our final meeting prior to the June Munch & Mingle.


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


atlantic_chapterATLANTICNo report submitted.


- Lola Augustine Brown, Atlantic chapter chair


member_newsMember News
Josephine Matyas was honoured as runner up in the recent Ottawa Travel Writing Awards for her piece on cruising the Rideau Canal that appeared in the Toronto Sun.


Media member Habeeb Salloum, has won the 2013 Saskatchewan Tourism Award of Excellence in the Travel Media Category. He was presented with the award on April 10, 2014 at the TCU in Saskatoon at Saskatchewan Tourism's 25th Awards of Excellence dinner.


Unsung Heroes: Margaret MacKenzie
By Sandra Phinney
Margaret MacKenzie

Margaret MacKenzie, manager, media relations program with the province of New Brunswick, wears many hats. One of them is chairing TMAC's industry membership committee. She fulfills this role with pizzazz and grace. 


Q. When did you come into TMAC and how did you get involved in chairing the Membership (Industry) Committee and serving on the board?  


A. After working in the tourism industry for many years, I found myself responsible for a media relations program. I got involved in TMAC immediately as a way to meet media and other PR professionals. In 2009, I was asked to chair the industry membership committee and have been doing so ever since. While a member of TMAC board of directors, I served on the communications committee, assisted in the drafting of brand standards and participated in the re-evaluation the industry membership criteria to ensure it remains relevant. 

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 answered by industry members:

Could you paint a picture, (in words) of what you consider to be the ideal travel writer for the purpose of promoting your destination?


Please click here to read responses by Martha Chapman and Karyl Leigh Barnes.

By Sandra Phinney
Sandra Phinney

If you think that you'll get noticed at a meeting or convention by schmoozing with colleagues or potential clients, think again. Getting the most out of networking requires both strategy and action.


Peter Wright, president of The Planning Group, says that it's important to ask: "How can we get more value out of meetings and conferences? How can we leverage these experiences with a little advance planning?"


When he posed these questions to board members of the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) at a strategy planning session two years ago, it wasn't long before he was delivering a session on networking at the association's annual conference in Fredericton, N.B.


Planning is key. "While any conference offers a number of benefits, including seminars and workshops, networking is the single item that will deliver the most value over the long term. 


Please click here to read the entire article. 

frenchExplorez la Géologie dans les "Highlands" de l'Ontario   
par Anne-Marie Forcier


La région Touristique «Ontario Highlands» dispose d'un des environnements géologiques les plus riches et les plus diversifiés dans l'ensemble du Canada. Ce secret est connu depuis longtemps par des scientifiques, des experts de l'industrie et les minéralogistes amateurs mais maintenant les touristes y sont aussi la bienvenue! Quand vous pensez à l'exploitation minière souterraine, vous pensez probablement à Sudbury ou de Thunder Bay. While it's true there are relatively few active mines in Ontario's Highlands today, there was a time when the land was pockmarked by small pits and trenches as attempts were made to exploit the vast mineral wealth at or near surface in people's backyards (literally). Même s'il est vrai qu'il y a relativement peu de mines actives dans les «Highlands» de l'Ontario aujourd'hui, il fut un temps où la terre a été grêlée par de petites fosses et tranchées pour exploiter la grande richesse minérale à la surface.


La «Silver Queen», une des mines les plus célèbres dans la région appartenue par la compagnie General Electric de 1905 à 1920, Having been at one time operated by the General Electric Company, the Silver Queen Mine (1905~1920) was one of the larger mica/apatite mines in the area, but what really makes it special is its place of honour at the heart of Murphys Point Provincial Park near Perth.était l'une des plus grandes mines de mica / apatite. La mine est aujourd'hui au cœur du Parc Provincial de « Murphys Point » près de Perth, Ontario. Dedicated park staff and volunteers have gone to great lengths to restore, not only the mine itself, but also an impressive array of heritage building, artifacts, and interpretive dioramas - an entire way of life! Les bénévoles du parc ont fait de grands efforts pour restaurer, non seulement la mine elle-même, mais aussi un nombre impressionnant de bâtiments patrimoniaux, des artefacts, et plaques d'interprétation. Although quite small compared to the vast underground workings in some of the great mining districts of today, the cavernous underground pit is jaw-dropping when you consider that it was carved out of solid rock using only hand, horse, and later, steam power in the early 1900s (okay, the had some dynamite too).Venez pour une visite guidée de la mine ou prenez part à l'un des nombreux événements patrimoniaux exceptionnels.


Ensuite, les grottes «Bonnechère» à Eganville avec une géologie étonnante en fabrication pour plusieurs millions d'années! Over 500 million years ago, the Caves were at the bottom of a tropical sea. Il y a plus de 500 millions d'années, les grottes étaient au fond d'une mer tropicale. That sea is long gone, of course, but what remains in our more modern times is an astounding caves system complete with stalactites - or rock icicles - hanging above your head.Cette mer est partie depuis longtemps, bien sûr, mais ce qui reste dans nos temps modernes est un système de grottes étonnantes avec des stalactites suspendu au-dessus de votre tête. A trip inside the caves reveals limestone walls all around you that encase ancient fossils of coral and sea creatures from a time long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth - with all there is to see, you'll soon discover why the area is known as Ordovician Fossil Capital of Canada. Un voyage à l'intérieur des grottes révèle des murs de calcaire qui enveloppent des anciens fossiles de coraux et de créatures de la mer à partir d'un temps bien avant que les dinosaures parcouraient la terre - avec tout ce qu'il ya à voir, vous allez bientôt découvrir pourquoi la région est connue comme la capitale Canadienne du Fossile.


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.

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