E.D. Corner: April 2024

Good Day,

I think the saying is, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. I am fortunate enough to be doing just that. This month has been full of moments of pure joy for me. From the incredible conversations that took place at the symposium to councillor reactions when I shared municipal tourism data, discussing opportunities for visitor growth at community tourism planning meetings to speaking at the Resorts of Ontario conference dinner at Hockley Valley Resort, I have been surrounded by your passion for the industry and resolve to build on your success. Last night was like the cherry on top.

CCT and the towns of Georgina and East Gwillimbury organized a networking event at the brand-new Multi-Use Recreation Complex (MURC) in Georgina. Close to 30 stakeholders from the area attended. The purpose of the event was for businesses to learn about what their neighbours are doing and to start to think about ways they could potentially work together. Around 30 minutes into the event, I talked briefly (well, it’s me, so probably not all that briefly…) about the importance of working together to build a destination. There is no competition when it comes to destination development to grow the visitor economy. By working collectively, you can reach more people for less money. It can be as simple as each stakeholder promoting other stakeholders to their consumer database. If just five businesses did this, with each having a consumer database of 200 people, each business would be exposed to 800 new potential customers FOR FREE.  The best part about that is that every single one of the consumers is already a fan of one of the businesses (because they chose to sign up for the newsletter, etc.) and there is a very good chance that by learning about other reasons to visit, they will return sooner than they may have if the business was just promoting itself.

After I had chatted, we had everyone in attendance introduce themselves and then suggested some connections that stood out as opportunities. Then, it was back to people chatting in groups.  I instantly noticed two things: 1) people were now in new groups introducing themselves and, 2) the noise level increased as more conversations started. And then the magic started to happen. The owners of a watersport rental company were talking with the owners of a great resort in Pefferlaw about how they could work together. Several of the farms were talking about ways to create economies of scale, and were also chatting with the person who was able to bring in live music to enhance visitor experiences.

Another reason I love these type of networking events is that CCT gets introduced to amazing businesses for the first time.  I met John from Wild Caught (www.wildcaught.ca).  He and his partner own and operate a wild mushroom foraging company which does guided foraging tours for people, as well as guided foraging and dinner experiences, featuring wild mushrooms.  They were there to meet with potential partners that had forested land they were willing to allow tour groups to forage on, and additional partners that could host dinners.  My brain hasn’t stopped thinking about all of the opportunities there are for collaborations with Wild Caught. One of the nearby wineries, breweries or cideries could do a wild mushroom pairing menu with their spirits. Farms with enough wooded acreage could invite the guided tours to their properties and layer in on-farm experiences or mushroom preserving lessons. They could work with a small tour company to provide transportation for the day instead of having people drive separately. Any of those things would make for an excellent fam trip (aka familiarization trip) to get even more people talking about the great things happening in the area.

It was a two-hour event and almost everyone stayed until the very end, chatting with new people and exploring opportunities. It was everything I could have hoped for and the attendees were already asking when the next one was going to happen. The key now is for the people who connected to follow up with each other and move their ideas forward. That is the harder part. From the energy in the room, I truly believe that at least one new partnership will take root and as it begins to succeed, more will follow. The event wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and support of the municipal staff from East Gwillimbury and Georgina. If you are reading this as a municipal staff member, please reach out to your Industry Relations Manager and we can discuss how we can do these in your community. There was another very successful networking event in Whitby earlier this week that I unfortunately had to miss. It was their second event and it was even better attended than the first – a testament to the importance they hold for the stakeholders. Let’s get them happening in your municipality.

Have a great day!



Central Counties is located North of Toronto


Find Resources in Your Region

E.D. Corner

Every month, Chuck brings you the latest and greatest here in the E.D. Corner. Read the Latest

Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director, Chuck Thibeault