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April 2017

We're just about a month away from the 2017 TMAC conference in historic and beautiful
Quebec City. The organizing committee and hosts have put together some amazing tours and hospitality packages. We hope to see you there in May!
Further details about the conference can be found in the newsletter.
We have the usual news and profiles for our members, as well. Enjoy!

- John Geary, TMAC Travels editor

Less than six weeks from today, more than 180 TMACers will unite in Quebec City for what promises to be yet another incredible TMAC Conference and AGM. The Conference Committee (Melody Wren, Co-chair & Jerry Grymek, Co-chair) has been meeting with the host team to ensure every logistical detail is looked after...and there are many. And, every pre- and post-tour is filled to capacity.
Our PD Committee (Melody Wren, Chair, with committee members Laura Paquet, Minto Schneider, Nicola Blazier and Camilla Cornell) has worked extremely hard to build a program that reflects your input and ideas and is as diverse an offering as possible with the nine time slots we have to fill. We have had overwhelming response to date and many of our PD sessions will reach 100% capacity. One last e-mail blast will go out in a week or so to remind you to review your PD choices. There is still time to sign up and/or change the sessions in which you would like to participate. Remember: we will be taking attendance this year, so please show up.
For the first time (I think), the Board will be hosting up to six 45-60 minute workshops, each reflecting one of the top six priorities we have established as part of the strategic planning process. These include: Membership, Communications, Volunteerism, Professional Developmen t, Social Media and Sponsorship. We are finalizing the details of each, including the time, location, and number of participants, all of which will be included in the e-mail blast.
Our Awards Committee (Acting Chair, Tracy Ford) is in the throws of receiving submissions from you. To date, we have received 135 submissions in 11 categories. Our judging panel has been confirmed and we look forward to a great night recognizing the best of the best of TMAC talent.
Our Sponsorship Committee (Chair, Jerry Grymek with committee members Paul Knowles and Jayda Fogel) has been working very hard at Sponsorship and we would like to thank everyone that has agreed to participate this year! Most of the Awards and a few other activations and events have already been supported but sponsorship opportunities still exist if you are interested.
Needless to say, all of our National Committees ( Chapter Chair Liaison, Ethics, Financial, Governance, Membership, and Social) have been working hard this year to provide TMAC with the necessary support to budget, recruit, liaise, communicate, qualify (and re-qualify) and promote TMAC and its members.
As you know, we have been challenged by the website development process and want to be 99.9% sure that the direction we take moving forward is the right one. We are currently in the process of finalizing our next steps and as always I will continue to keep you posted. This is a daunting task and a big responsibility so I would encourage any TMAC members who are as keen as I am to get our site launched to join me on the Communications Committee to move the process forward faster.
As many of you know, we have recently created a Membership Marketing Task Force (Chair, Holly Lenk) that is currently recruiting both media and industry from across Canada to participate in the development and implementation of a strategic membership drive. This initiative evolved out of our strategic planning session in November and I am really hoping that over the next few months, we will establish a few more task forces to help TMAC grow and prosper as it can and should.
I have been very proud to serve as your President over the past two years. It has been a most rewarding journey, but it is time for me to step down and give someone else the chance to help shape the future. I will continue to support TMAC from the sidelines, wherever I can. In the meantime, a Call for Nominations will be going out shortly to fill some of the open positions. This is a great opportunity to support your association.
I so look forward to seeing many of you in Quebec City!
Positive, pro-active and productive!

- Elizabeth Kerr, TMAC president

This year's conference runs from Wednesday, May 24, 2017 to Saturday, May 27, 2017.
Awards. One of the highlights of any TMAC conference is the gala awards night. During this event, we honour the best editorial and photography produced by our members during the past year.
Notifications regarding the awards and how to submit materials have gone out. Just in case you missed it, though...
All categories are open to all TMAC members and we strongly encourage our growing digital influencer community to participate this year!
Monetary prizes will remain the same as in recent years:  
  • First prize for each category: $750
  • Second prize for each category: $250
  • Third prize for each category: Honourable Mention
As in the past, you may enter as many categories as you like. However, please be aware that while your first three (3) entries are complimentary, there will be a $10 fee for every subsequent entry.
Links to entry forms and rules were included in the two emails sent in March and early April. If you did not receive the email, please send a request to
And remember: the deadline for entry is Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Social media: As with all conferences, we encourage all participants to post about their experiences on social media.
At this year's conference, the relevant social media hashtags for Twitter are:
The Twitter handle for Quebec City Tourism is @quebecregion
Tweet away!
(By the way, if you're still a bit confused about hashtags and how to use them, Kat Tancock has produced a wonderfully comprehensive article about them, it's further down in the newsletter.)
- John Geary, TMAC Travels editor

The Ontario Chapter has been a beehive of activity!
The February Munch and Mingle, sponsored by Visit Phoenix, took place at Los Colibris Restaurant on King Street West in Toronto. The host of honour was Douglas MacKenzie, the Director of Media Relations for Visit Phoenix and, just like one experiences in Phoenix, the hospitality and conviviality flowed generously.
The grand prize winner of a trip to Phoenix was Bonnie Munday. Some great big "thank-you's" go out to Ian Tillson for helping with registration, Jerry Grymek who worked with Visit Phoenix to organize the evening, and to all the Ontario members who came out to learn about Phoenix and enjoy some great Mexican food.
The biggest "thank-you" goes to Douglas MacKenzie for sharing information with us and conveying the fact that Phoenix is a dynamic, multi-activity, welcoming destination.
At the pre-event meeting, we held a draw based on a list of Ontario members who had referred new members to the chapter in 2016.  Congratulations were extended to Helen Lovekin, media relations, Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC), who won the $200 VISA gift card. Helen graciously requested that the gift be donated to the Fred Victor Women's Hostel in downtown Toronto.
In her words, "Staff at the Women's Hostel are always on the lookout for toiletries and clothing for their clients or the same for their clients' children and gift cards would certainly help them out. Lately they have been getting clients on refugee claims straight from the airport so resources are pretty strained!"
A draw will be held again at the end of 2017 with a similar prize for membership referrals.
The March 28 Munch and Mingle took place at the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto and was sponsored by Parks Canada's Bruce Peninsula and Ontario East Field Unit. We were thrilled to have Guy Theriault, media relations guru for all of Parks Canada on hand to introduce John Haselmayer, acting superintendent of Bruce Peninsula and Fathom Five, along with Parks Canada staff that included Dameon Wall, Jessica Lambert, France Faucher and Graeme Shaw.
John gave a short presentation in which he highlighted the ultra-popular attractions in the area. He also provided some sage advice about the need to visit in the shoulder season in order to avoid disappointment. About 65 TMACers attended the M & M.
The winner of the Parks Canada industry draw was Henny Groenendijk of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and the media winner was Steve Gillick of Talking Travel.
Prior to the Parks Canada presentation, Steve Gillick, chapter chair, introduced and congratulated Paul Knowles as the new co-chair (media) of the Ontario Board. Paul will become Chair at the TMAC Annual Conference in Quebec City.  A new Co-Chair to work with Paul will be announced after that event.
Steve also thanked Igor Kravtchenko for his volunteerism and enthusiasm on the Ontario board and on behalf of all members, he presented Igor with a small parting gift.
The Ontario chapter will continue to collect USB sticks to donate to the Iqaluit Board of Education up to the end of May 2017, after which they will be packaged up and delivered to Iqaluit. Approximately 450 have been donated to date.
Jerry Grymek, our M & M coordinator, has confirmed that the Waterloo Region will host the April 18 M & M. This year's road trip in July will head north to experience the sights in Collingwood. In fact, Munch and Mingles have been booked up to the end of January 2018, so Ontario members have a lot of excitement and education in store!

- Steve Gillick, Ontario chapter co-chair (industry)

Plans are well underway for an early summer event in partnership with the Fairmont Empress and her grand re-opening. Stay tuned for details!
As always, any out-of-province TMAC members are welcome to attend this B.C. chapter event, so we will make sure that we share our details when they're firmed up!
A big thanks to our event coordinating team, our executive, and our members for their engagement and interest in our chapter! 
- Brian Cant, British Columbia chapter chair

Here in Atlantic Canada we struggle to set up meetings as we are in four different provinces and live miles apart. However, a small band of TMACers gathered at Pier 21 on March 26. Thanks to industry member Jennifer Sullivan of Pier 21 who provided the room. We spent the morning with techie guru, Patrick Fougere, who led us through some technical hoops and loops which should make our jobs easier.
We also invited members of the Canadian Media Guild and former Chronicle Herald journalists who are still on strike; we had six guests who also enjoyed the PD session. Two have indicated they want to join our organization.
After lunch, TMAC members had a brief chapter meeting, followed by an hour of discussing and sharing online and print markets.

- Sandra Phinney, Atlantic chapter chair
Members of the Alberta-Northwest Territories chapter are looking forward to their annual professional development conference, taking place April 20-22 at Jasper Park Lodge.
Aptly themed "Retreat, Refresh, and Re-wire," attendees will be treated to informative keynote speakers, interactive and engaging workshops, and a panel session. Sessions will include:
  • The Science of Storytelling by Pete and Dalene Heck of Hecktic Travels
  • a keynote presentation from Dr. Shannon Murray, historian and program coordinator of the Calgary Stampede's Indian Village and Sweetgrass Lodge who will share the stories that have shaped the historic Indian Village at Stampede Park
  • a panel session mixing editors, writers, and content producers who will share tips and tricks on how to tell authentic stories in a digital world
While tickets are almost sold out, a few remain. Visit  for more information on speakers and ticket availability.
A huge "thank-you" goes out to all sponsors, including presenting sponsors Parks Canada and Tourism Jasper, as well as chapter board members who have worked tirelessly to put together a creative and captivating conference.
- Andrea Visscher , Alberta chapter chair
4. MEMBER NEWS membernews

From Atlantic Canada:

Sandra Phinney is now the Canadian Media Guild board representative (Atlantic freelance branch). She looks forward to doing joint PD sessions with TMAC and the CMG.
Sandra is also pleased to announce a contract with Pottersfield Press to write at travel memoir with the working title: Waking up in my own backyard - treasures and pleasures of Southwest Nova Scotia, to be published in the fall of 2017.
Cathy Donaldson recently published a memoir chronicling her battle with anxiety and depression. If you struggle with mental health issues, or know someone who does, it's an inspiring read. More details here:  
George Burden is arranging for his 15-year old daughter Ari to take lessons on the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions in Lipica, Slovenia this July. Considered to be the world's best dressage horses they have been bred here since 1580 to provide horses to the cavalry of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to which Lipica once belonged. 
John and Sandra Nowlan were invited by the Truro PROBUS (Professional and Business) Club to talk about their travel experiences on all seven continents, including their expedition with Adventure Canada out of the Northwest Passage, and their 3-generation family trip to Mexico.
Ryan Barry is currently working with Halifax filmmakers on a travel show showcasing the unique adventure and cultural experiences in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. Filming begins in May.
Tourism Nova Scotia has lots of story ideas for 2017, including a kayak-glamping trip to one of Halifax's harbour islands, a cooking class on the ocean floor, or a wine tour on a double decker bus. More information here:
Destination Halifax is excited about the grand opening of the brand-new Discovery Centre on the Halifax Waterfront, The Rendezvous Tall Ships Regatta (end of July), and free entry to the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site (all year!). Here are 17 reasons to visit Halifax in 2017:
- Helen Early, for the Atlantic Chapter
G ot some member news - media or industry - you want to share in the newsletter? Check the submission guidelines at the end of the newsletter, then email John Geary,
You can also share it in the national group's Facebook group page, "TMAC - Travel Media Association of Canada, National - members only"

Spotlight will return next issue.

If you're confused about how to use hashtags, you're not alone. Like many linguistic and Internet trends, they've evolved somewhat organically since the advent of social media - and their use continues to evolve. Here are some facts to know about what they are and how they work.
What's a hashtag?
Simply put, a hashtag is a searchable, clickable one-word tag preceded by a hash sign (what the Brits and other English dialects call # - a "pound key" or "number sign", in North America).
What's a tag, you ask? In internet speak, it's basically a defined category. For example, you might have a series of blog posts that you tag with various topics: canada, alberta, hotels, beaches, etc. When someone clicks on one of those tags, all of the posts that include it will show up in a list.
Hashtags were developed as a means of organizing information on social media, particularly Twitter and then Instagram. Let's say you're attending a conference - #TMACQuebec, perhaps. (Or you're not attending and you want to follow along.) If everyone uses this hashtag on posts, you can click on it and see them all organized in a nice row, whether you follow the posters or not.
Hashtags are generally all lower case, though some will use "camel case" (#CamelCase) to make long hashtags easier to read. Note: If you're inventing a new hashtag, be sure to read it a few different ways in all lower case. It's easy for something that looks innocuous with capital letters to look a lot different when the word breaks are rearranged.
How should I use hashtags?
There are two main reasons to use hashtags: utility and irony. (Or sometimes both!)
Utility, as mentioned above, is to help contribute or organize information on disparate channels or from unconnected groups. One of my favourites is the longstanding Toronto hashtag #dlws, which stands for David Leonard Weather Service. It started on Twitter as a joke but then picked up steam and has lingered for many years as a tool to organize personalized weather reports - not of the "it's snowing and 4 degrees out" variety, but along the lines of "patios are filling up and there's warmth on my face - could it be spring?" (One can hope...)
People also get creative with hashtags and use them to jokingly categorize their remarks - things like #firstworldproblems. This ironic use isn't meant to organize information; instead, it's the kind of usage that spawns lots of linguistics papers.
On Instagram, hashtags have become hugely popular as a tool for discovery. Much more so than on Twitter, people will browse hashtags on Instagram to look for photos on certain topics. For the sake of decreasing clutter, these hashtags are often inserted into a comment or lower in the post copy. Many Instagram accounts will also gather user-generated content (UGC) by asking users to use their tag for the chance to be reposted. (Tag #tmacCA to get reposted on the TMAC account, @travelmediaca!)
Note that on Instagram, you can use emoji in hashtags! It can be a fun way to add colour to your posts. Just beware the eggplant...
How should I not use hashtags?
In general, the idea is to only hashtag in a way that you think people might actually click on or use for discovery. Tagging very general topics like #food, #travel and #love doesn't have a lot of utility and just make your post look cluttered. It's also best to be sparing with hashtag use - less is more!
Also note that some hashtags of, let's say, dubious morality are blocked by social media platforms, as well as those related to mental illnesses such as eating disorders and some related to spam.
What about Facebook?
Facebook does have hashtag functionality, but it's of limited use because Facebook is primarily a closed and reciprocal platform. Unlike on Twitter and Instagram, most people aren't using Facebook to look for new friends and information. Plus, if you click on a hashtag, you can only see posts that are visible to you - i.e., from your friends and from public accounts.
How do I learn more?
Here are a few recommended articles to upgrade your knowledge:
- Kat Tancock, TMAC social media committee chair


John Geary,
Steve Gillick,
Brian Cant,
Sandra Phinney,
Andrea Visscher,
Kat Tancock,  


TMAC Travels is published bi-monthly.  Publication of solicited and unsolicited articles is not guaranteed. Final content is decided by TMAC Travel's editorial board and the national board.
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.