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Mar 15, 2024

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – March 15, 2024


In a previous role, I worked with consultant Duane Knapp to help our organization reshape its brand. Duane is considered to be one of the world’s foremost brand experts and has authored several books related to a strategy he developed called brand science. As part of his work, he frequently speaks to corporations and at conferences (including the BC Tourism Industry Conference) on the notion of a brand promise, specifically in the context of customer service.

Whenever Duane travelled north from his home in Palm Springs to meet with me, we’d have dinner at a downtown restaurant. The first thing he would do before we ordered so much as a glass of water was pull out a $100 US bill and tip the server. Because neither of us typically ate or drank enough to warrant that size of gratuity (based on a percentage of the final bill), it was a very generous gesture that virtually guaranteed top-notch service.

Whether I’m out for a meal, getting my hair cut, or finding my way home in a taxi, I try to emulate Duane and leave a good size tip, partly out of empathy for young people trying to eke out a living in a very expensive part of the world. However, unlike my American friend, I find it hard to offer a gratuity for services not yet rendered.

Recently I took a pair of pants in for alterations where payment was required up front, including a suggested tip of between 10% and 30%. Wait, what? How was I to determine how much to give before the tailor actually fixed my trousers? Ironically, it took two more adjustments before the pants fit right. The same goes for other services like ridesharing where the base fare and tip are already processed by the time the vehicle arrives. There is no recourse (other than a bad review) if the driver sucks, gets lost or makes everyone car sick.

As I was relaying my experience with the tailor to some friends recently, I learned that some of them believe we’ve reached the so-called tipping point on tipping and have resorted to a maximum percentage or not tipping at all for basic (i.e. not exceptional) services they believe are a core function of someone’s job.

The subject of tips and tipping point reminded me of another conversation I had the other day with a couple of operators who fear that we’ve reached the tipping point on the cost of travel to and within Canada. Taking into consider the combination of a higher base price for most services or experiences, compounded by myriad fees, taxes and/or a minimum 20% tip, they wonder whether Canada is no longer considered reasonable or affordable for the average middle-income earner.

Moreover, operators are nervous that booking pace in some regions is down noticeably compared to 2023, with the cost of travel assumed to be one of the contributing factors. Although visitors begrudgingly accept that travel is generally more expensive everywhere these days, is there such a thing as a tipping point that dissuades people from visiting Canada (& BC)?

Some of my highly regarded professional colleagues tell me that although the cost of travel influences where vacationers might go, what they buy, what they experience during their trip, and length of stay, tourists are still willing to spend good money to visit reputable destinations (including BC) that offer exciting and memorable experiences, as well as deliver outstanding service and value.

As we approach what’s commonly referred to as ‘peak season’, I expect to hear from media asking about consumer perceptions on the price of a BC vacation especially when it comes to certain sectors that are often unfairly singled out and criticized for high rates despite the reality of soaring operating expenses, supply constraints, high demand, and other circumstances. At the risk of sounding insensitive to the consumer, I typically err on the side of operators who both need to stay the course on price but also focus on value and not deep discounting…which generally doesn’t attract significantly more visitors and becomes a race to the bottom.

As for tipping…in the days before credit card terminals offered tip percentage choices, I inadvertently miscalculated and left a woefully inadequate gratuity for a business breakfast that I discovered as I was submitting my receipt to the finance department. Sheepishly, I went back to the restaurant, apologized to the server, and squared up with a more generous tip than what I should have left in the first place. Again I thought of my friend Duane who, as a brand and customer service guru, has never been embarrassed like that given he always tips upfront. Perhaps there’s something to his tipping practice for future consideration.

Walt Judas,


Related Posts

TIABC Director Dennis Innes (VCC Dean of Hospitality, Culinary & Baking) and CEO Walt Judas joined term 8 hospitality students, industry leaders, recent graduates, and faculty for a Philosopher's Cafe to discuss the state of the tourism and hospitality workforce this week at VCC's downtown Vancouver campus.
TIABC CEO Walt Judas with Tourism Abbotsford’s Barb Roberts & Clare Seeley, as well as VCM’s Chad Wetsch on a site visit to a land-based Tilapia fish farm owned and operated by the Sumas First Nation who are expanding their Fraser Valley holdings with ambitious plans to bolster Abbotsford’s tourism infrastructure and experiences.
As he does regularly, TIABC CEO Walt Judas recently presented to tourism students and faculty at @westerncommunitycollege's (WCC) Surrey campus, focussing on industry issues and TIABC's advocacy priorities. Walt also serves on WCC's Program Advisory Committee (PAC), as well as the PACs of @capilanou and @myvcc.
🍽️ What an incredible farm-to-table experience! Backyard Farm Proprietor and Chef Chris Van Hooydonk welcomed TOTA's Board of Directors and guests Walt Judas, Richard Porges (DBC CEO) and Scott Fraser (DBC Chair) for a memorable meal in Osoyoos this week.

Chris's culinary philosophy focuses on utilizing the freshest, locally sourced ingredients to create unique, tailored menus for each visit. With a commitment to true hospitality, the experience is marked by attentive service and a passion for showcasing the beauty of the South Okanagan.

Also pictured, Destination Osoyoos Executive Director Kelley Glazer, TOTA CEO Ellen Walker Matthews, and TOTA's Jane Parece. 

A huge thank you to Chris for providing such a delightful culinary experience! 🌿
🎉 Highlights from the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Conference in Victoria! 🌟

Close to 450 tourism industry professionals convened in Victoria last week for the annual 2024 BC Tourism Industry Conference, hosted by TIABC. Industry leaders representing businesses, sector associations, regional and community destination management organizations, First Nations, federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as non-government organizations gathered for the two-day event. 

Anchored by the conference theme - Shaping Our Future Together - the outstanding program provided both a knowledge and skills track via plenary sessions and workshops. Here are just a few highlights:

▪️ Opening keynote speaker Shaun Boothe shared a unique and emotional celebration of some of the world's most influential cultural icons. His energy and messages set the stage for the entire event.

▪️ Hon. Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sport kicked off the conference by welcoming delegates and sharing her own personal story of working in BC's tourism industry.

▪️ Plenary Remarks by Hon. Soraya Martinez Ferrada: Insights from the Minister of Tourism and Economic Development Agency of Canada highlighted the industry's significance.

▪️TIABC CEO Walt Judas engaged in a compelling conversation with Premier David Eby whose remarks underscored the vital role of the tourism industry in British Columbia, earning him a standing ovation.

▪️ Opening Reception at the Royal BC Museum

A big thank you to all our sponsors for making this event possible! 🙌
Join us in celebrating the remarkable winners of the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Awards Gala presented by @indigenoustourismbc! 🎉✨ 

Ten awards were given out to recognize and celebrate excellence, leadership, and innovation within British Columbia’s tourism and hospitality sector. These awards showcased the province’s most exceptional leaders and positive change-makers this past year.

The winners of the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Awards are:

Business Woman of the Year Award - Sponsored by Prince of Whales
⭐ Winner: Ingrid Jarrett, @bchotelassociation 

Community Contribution & Impact - Sponsored by Tourism Richmond
⭐Winner: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching 

DMO Professional Excellence - Sponsored by BC Regional Tourism Secretariat (BCRTS)
⭐Winner: @visitrichmondbc 

Employees First - Sponsored by go2HR
⭐Winner: @golfbc 

Inclusive and Accessible Tourism Experience - Sponsored by Destination BC
⭐Winner: Vancouver Aquarium

Indigenous Operator or Experience | Sponsored by Indigenous Tourism BC and Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
⭐Winner: @homalcotours

Innovation | Sponsored by Tourism Innovation Lab
⭐Winner: @tourismnewwest 

Remarkable Experience | Sponsored by BC Destination Management Organization Association (BCDMOA)
⭐Winner: @nimmobayresort

Sector Association Excellence Award | Sponsored by Acera Insurance
⭐Winner: Sport Fishing Institute of BC

Sustainability Excellence | Sponsored by Nanaimo Airport
⭐Winner: @40knotswinery 

📸 @arkitekcreative