Mar
17
Opinion: How the Tourism Resiliency Network Gave Me Hope for My Business

As an owner and operator of a tourism business, I’ve experienced first-hand how quickly events outside of our control can affect a business. 

Three years ago, my husband and I purchased a beautiful riverside campground in Northern BC, Salmon Valley Campground

Our first spring, there were warnings of a 100 year flood and wildfires were rampant throughout the province. We were forced to cancel a number of reservations and return deposits.

Fast forward two years later, 2020, we were planning out our third season.  We had guests from all over the world booking reservations, we had a number of large events planned and we were incredibly excited about the growth our campground was experiencing season after season. 

I had to set aside some pride to accept some of the resources that were available. I am so incredibly grateful that I did.

Then came the pandemic. We had absolutely no idea how things were going to play out, the impact it would have on our life and the life of our business that was set to open for the season in two months. 

This year, our new challenge is travel bans, border closures and travel restrictions.

Even though I’m an Entrepreneur in Residence at Women’s Enterprise Centre, and I’m so passionate about getting other women to access our supports, I know it can be really hard to ask for help for my own business.

I had to set aside some pride to accept some of the resources that were available. I am so incredibly grateful that I did.

A picture of Salmon Valley Campground in Prince George

Scrolling through my emails one morning, I glanced at an email from Northern BC Tourism.  They were sharing a new program that had been developed to assist their tourism businesses with challenges being faced due to the pandemic.

I immediately started filling out the questionnaire to speak to someone in my region.

Within 24 hours, I had someone contact me to find out more about the challenges that we were facing, and we set up a Zoom call. 

In one phone call, my Google listing issue was resolved and he did an audit of my website, offering up suggestions on how I could improve SEO, as well as some design improvements.

During our meeting, the Program Advisor asked me a number of questions about our business, what we were experiencing and what resources we needed. 

She put together a personalized support plan, highlighting resources that were available such as financial support, business resources, experts in areas such as finance, web design, HR and so on.

I’ve continued to access the support services over the past year, watching their webinars, participating in Ideas Labs and reaching out to my Advisor when I have questions.

Most recently, I was experiencing some difficulties with my Google listing.  I reached out to my Program Advisor and she shared how I could benefit from their Digital Literacy Program.  I would be connected to a digital marketing expert, who would provide me with three free hours to correct this issue as well as any other challenges I may be having with our website. 

In one phone call, my Google listing issue was resolved and he did an audit of my website, offering up suggestions on how I could improve SEO, as well as some design improvements. 

In 2020, we got through our third season. Despite losing four weeks, we were able to open our gates.  We were able to offer a safe space for our guests to escape their homes, get out in nature and be together.  We were able to re-evaluate our business model, and adjust to something even better.

Sometimes, it takes a challenge to step back and look at other opportunities. With the support and assistance of Northern BC Tourism through the Tourism Resiliency Network, we were able to do this.

If you own a business in the tourism sector, I highly encourage you take a look at the resources offered through the Tourism Resiliency Network.  You’ll find a number of resources, stories of resilience, webinars, research, and register for the program.

Even if you don’t know what you need, you can speak with a Program Advisor for a discovery session.  Stay in the loop and read through the emails from your Regional Tourism Office about new programs that are launching, connecting you with experts in an area you may be experiencing challenges.

For women business owners in any industry, you can also connect with a Business Advisor at Women’s Enterprise Centre to get complimentary support for your business, access resources or get referrals to many other organizations based on your needs.

Here are some other resources for tourism businesses:

What resources have helped you to persevere through the past year?


Bobbi Carpino

Bobbi Carpino is an Entrepreneur in Residence, Women’s Enterprise Centre and Co-Owner of Salmon Valley Campground, Prince George.

See all posts by Bobbi

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