Taking the Job Seriously as Director of Fun, with Richard Arnold

Episode 113

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Richard Arnold is the Director of Fun at Atlantic Travel and Tours. He is a graduate of Acadia University and has been with Atlantic since 1987.  He is also a member of the board of Travel Alliance Partners, where he serves as treasurer. After working as an employee for many years, Richard took the plunge and purchased Atlantic Travel and Tours. He is a busy man- but he’ll be the first to tell you his first love is hosting the trips and being a tour director. Though his title is now Director of Fun, he still gets out in the field and leads trips from time to time. He says, “I want to be judged on the job, not on the fact that I am president of the company. At the end of the day, if I’m not doing my job, I need to hear it like any other tour manager.” On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Richard Arnold about his longtime experience in running tours in an around Nova Scotia and outbound tourism to the far reaches of the world. How has group travel changed? How can you stay competitive? How can you continue to make a profit and make promises like a guaranteed departure trip? We discuss answers to these questions and many more.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How to balance the people side of the business with the numbers side
  • How to make a guaranteed departure policy work, even with a low headcount
  • Partnering with “competitors” to run a larger, more profitable tour
  • The difference between what is most memorable and what makes people open their wallets in the first place
  • How to build greater tourism awareness in your destination community

Evolution of Group Touring

In the early 2000s, many thought the era of group touring was over. People want to follow their own path, conventional wisdom said. Richard thought something else was happening and developed what he calls “the illusion of choice.” Part of this is about giving people a sense of having freedom of choice. When you offer options, Richard has found that most people default to joining the larger group anyhow. But you’ve empowered them with a choice, which is what travel consumers want these days.

Paying Attention to the “Wow”

Richard has uncovered a gem of wisdom in his 33 years in the industry- often the thing that caused a touring client to open their wallets in the first place is different from what they find most memorable about a tour. Be sure to pay attention to those “wow” factors that may not be the reason people initially book a trip, but what they get out of it in the end. What “wows” one person might not “wow” another. The greater the customization you can offer (even in group tour offerings), the bigger the “wow”. Richard shows us how you can find ways to make any size tour for any length of time work, through strategic partnerships or just creative thinking and attention to your bottom line.


Nicole Mahoney: 00:18 Hello listeners, I’m Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. I am passionate about travel and tourism and love learning from the experiences of professionals in the industry. That is why I am so excited to introduce today’s guest, Richard Arnold. Richard is the director of fun at Atlantic Tours and travel in Atlantic Canada and we know each other through travel alliance partners where Richard serves as treasurer of the organization. Richard, you’ve been in the industry a very long time and I know you have lots of experiences to share with our listeners, but before we get started, can you share more about your story and how you got to where you are today?

Richard Arnold: 00:58 Can. Um, I always like to say it’s all by accident. You know, I had a different life plan when I was a young man and I was in high school and in Grade Twelve and my dad became ill and passed away. And instead of going away to university, I decided to go to a wonderful university in my hometown, which I hadn’t really explored just because we all want to run away when we’re teenagers. So I went there and had decided I was going to be a teacher. And uh, in the first month I realized that none of my friends that were teachers had work and that we’re talking in the early eighties. So I decided to change to business. At the end of the day I can be balanced my checkbook. So I started in business specializing in accounting and finished my degree. And while I was doing all of that, had started working at a local hotel in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, a hotel.

Richard Arnold: 01:57 I’m the largest one in the area with a fantastic restaurant that was a well known. And we had a lot of regular clients who I became a waiter there at the restaurant. And we did a wonderful, um, menu items. Like I’m making a salad at the table, that Caesar Salad. We did shadow Briana and pepper steak. And like a flaming cherries jubilee or a baked Alaska or even a beautiful crepe. So, um, that’s how I paid my way through university. They also worked at the local movie theater and was the first candy boy before me. There were all girls that worked behind the counter. The males were all doorman of the different world then and you wore a Tux and had gloves on when you came to a movie. That was the kind of experience that you had. And I just thought, well, if I worked there at least one week a month, I get all my entertainment. Uh, that worked for me. And I also worked at the local dining hall at university because you can get your meals for a dollar 30. I always think I had it all worked out

Richard Arnold: 03:03 working at the hotel. Eventually when I graduated I became a sales manager there. They offered me that position and uh, then eventually went on and ran all the food service and we were a tour hotel in the summer months, which meant a lot of the big motor coach companies came to the hotel and they would all tell me the same thing. You’d make an excellent tour manager. So I thought, well, what a great way to explore a bit of the world. So I applied for a job after seven years at the hotel and uh, my first interview was delayed and my second interview that was lined up with, with a company called Atlantic tours. And uh, I was hired that mother’s Day weekend and that was 32 years ago this May. So I’m running into my 33rd year of working at Atlantic tours and I had the great fortune to purchase the company eight years ago.

Richard Arnold: 04:00 It will be completing eight years as the owners of Atlantic tours. And a lot of stuff have crossed under the bridge and over the bridge, uh, in those years. But my first love and my passion is to gloat and be a host on the trips. Be a tour manager, be a tour director and I still do that and that’s why you have the title director of fun because I want to be judged on the job. I do not on the fact that I’m the president of Atlantic tours. So at the end of the day, if I’m not doing my job, I need to hear it like any other tour manager.

Nicole Mahoney: 04:35 That’s awesome. That’s quite the story, Richard. And um, I, I love how you described your college life and how resourceful you were, you know, to work your way through college and, and find all of those various jobs, but also how those jobs were in the hospitality industry and how that, as you say all by accident led you to be that tour manager eventually for Atlantic Tours and now on the company. I think that’s just a really, really cool journey and, and appreciate you sharing.

Richard Arnold: 05:06 I still say I don’t know what I would want to do when I grow up because like I said, you fall into those things. I certainly still get excited by numbers on the accounting side and it’s probably. I’ve said two university professors that, you know, taught me at a university that the best thing I could have taken in hindsight was the accounting arm of things. I still do our monthly close outside still, um, very much concentrate on the numbers. But, uh, I love the people side of this and uh, and I think that’s important as owners and as managers that we not forget our clients. I’m still guiding and hosting a few trips each year. I still am looking at how things have changed and said has served me very well. And as far as resourcefulness that at university, I never realized we were poor until much later in life because poor people didn’t have food, did those kinds of things. And we always had plenty of that. In fact, we put the extra by the road with a sign saying help yourself. So it wasn’t until my dad passed away that I realized we didn’t have a lot of funds and so I needed to pay for my own university degree, which interestingly enough, I did my four year degree in four years where I think sometimes it’s someone else paying for you. You may not be as quick to finish it in a number of years, but to the you’re supposed to.

Nicole Mahoney: 06:28 That’s a good point. And those are all really great lessons that have served you well throughout your career and, and especially now as, as owner of the company. I’m sure you on a lot of that experience from early in your, in your life there.

Richard Arnold: 06:46 Part of the partner family with the family is that we offer guaranteed departure trip and if you are a company like ours, I mean our business was built on guaranteed the trips. We were doing it long before it was fashionable in the industry because we were wholesaling our products to Atlantic Canada to the world. We had many a tour operator partners from not only America but overseas, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and when they were booking their clients on a trip, they needed to know what’s going to operate. So we made the commitment, um, even back before I became part of the company because interestingly enough, we’re celebrating 50 years in business this year and I’ve only been around 32 of those years. And when I came in we were offering guaranteed departures way back then, which means there are times that you have very profitable trips and there’s times that you aren’t very profitable because you may end up with four people on a trip and you may end up with 40 people on a trip.

Richard Arnold: 07:49 And so to me, I worked really hard at how do you mitigate your losses with the lower numbers and the way we got around that was through, um, maybe we’d have a driver guide experience, but it looked like it was going to be low. We would cap it with no more than four to six people. And when I ran the numbers, you could actually break even if you had a driver guy doing that. So, you know, I, I pride myself in the fact that I always say we may not always have the size groups we want, but I don’t run towards that, don’t make money. And that’s very important in our industry because if you do that for far too long, you’re not going to be around for a long time

Nicole Mahoney: 08:30 celebrating 50 years if you weren’t running profitable tours. Um, and I think what you just described to us actually, even though I haven’t asked you the first question yet really does, um, does refer to the first question that I, I do like to ask our guests, which is about, um, how, you know, you kind of stand out from the crowd in such a competitive industry. And it sounds like this approach to running guaranteed departure trips and offering that reassurance is really something that, that makes you stand out as. Is that correct? Is that kind of how you’ve built the door

Richard Arnold: 09:06 to me? That what made what made becoming part of the travel life partner group? A. No brainer because we were already doing it, so it was certainly not much of a stretch to become part of that family, but you know, the other things that we do as a company that make us stand out. And I can remember I’ll sort of tell a little story tongue and cheek when, um, when I was part of Atlantic tours in the early days, our competitor and a lot of the groups that are listening to it, they may know of that name as well because there’s still here as a company. We eventually became the same company known as Atlantic about the tours and the eight years ago I bought the touring division from that company. And uh, so we went back to the Atlantic towards name there, the group of companies, they’re specialists in motor coaches.

Richard Arnold: 10:00 That’s what they have. They have the gray line franchise for here and they do the water boat tours and all of this stuff associated with those. And what we purchased was everything was an overnight or a tour guide involved with overnight. And that’s the side that we took. And um, with that said, they were the ones that introduced me to being the company with the kilts. So those of the audience that, the minute I say that if they’d gone to any of the trade shows, I’m certainly, I’m always in my kilt throughout the show and that certainly has made a very recognizable, uh, you go to a convention of 3000 people or 2000 people, they may not know who you are, but they know about the guy in the kilt and the over the years, of course you get to know those people. And then to follow that up, I have kind of a unique business card because I always have a piece of cloth that’s attached to my business card and it’s always a nice conversation piece, uh, an opener when you meet people.

Richard Arnold: 11:06 But to be in the killed and have a business card with a piece of kilt on it. And I’ve had many stationery shops, they, why don’t we just a superimposed the kilt. Look onto your card. And I know it is a lot of work to have someone cut those swatch pieces and for me to staple them, but all these years later I still continue to do that and that was something introduced to me nearly 30 years ago and still works today, still makes us recognizable. And of course anyone that. No. Is there anything about the kill to mean we are from Nova Scotia or that’s where my office is located in Nova Scotia is Latin for new Scotland, so we embraced that Scottish part of our heritage and doesn’t take away from the other heritage is here with our indigenous folks and our English and our friends. But we’ve embraced that and certainly has worked as a unique business.

Nicole Mahoney: 12:04 I think that that’s such a great example to not just of how you stand out, but also representing your brand and having your brand kind of go through out everything that you’re doing with your company and that not just in in one way but in many different ways. Right,

Richard Arnold: 12:19 exactly. I’m one of the first things when we interview and hire New People is do you have any opposition to wearing a kilt because it’s part of the job. It is our company uniform, all of our guides that kilted so it’s not just me, the face of the company, it is all of our staff that embraced that everyday when we’re facing with the public. If we’re on a long trip, we don’t require it every day of the trip, but certainly a, you wanted them the first day and some of it some of the other days during the trip where it makes sense.

Nicole Mahoney: 12:46 Yeah, absolutely. So, Richard, um, you’ve already offered so many great golden nuggets of advice to our listeners. Um, with this next question, I like to kind of turn the conversation around just a little bit, um, because I, I love to explore, um, creativity that happens when you’re faced with some sort of a challenge or adversity. And I’m wondering if there is a time in your career that you’ve faced, um, some kind of a challenge and then if you could share, uh, the creative problem solving or the creative solution that came from that.

Richard Arnold: 13:23 To me, the challenge was that, uh, in the early two thousands, you know, a lot of, lot of the industry felt that we were going to die and dry up that the, uh, the baby boomers boomers and, uh, you know, the future travelers weren’t interested in group travel. So, you know, as an industry we had to look at that. And I always disagreed from the perspective. I always thought we were in the right place. It was just going to take a little longer for us to do catch up because the baby boomers did like to travel. And even though they liked the independence at some point, they may not be able to be as independent as they like. And we have to look at creating itineraries, uh, with choice. And I often use the word illusion of choice because, uh, often they purchased the trip for the fact that there is choice, but they tend to do the status quo item when they actually choose their options.

Richard Arnold: 14:18 But, you know, I’ll use the example, we’re blessed with some of the best golf courses in the world and they’re very close together. And so we have a lot of people that are out there interested in golf. So we’ll have couples that will come because they don’t have to do a touring day. They could actually go to a golf course. Now, my experience, I found that very few of them, they don’t want to miss what they would have seen on the sightseeing day, but there is that option of golf there. And that’s one of the examples. And the other thing that came out of all of that is the numbers became lower on, um, and that was an industry industry wide a fact. And that’s when I said, well, you know, our competitors are in each other. Uh, our competitors are other destinations in the world, other distractions.

Richard Arnold: 15:09 And so that’s when I really worked hard and that’s when we became part of the travel life partners is looking at the opportunities rather than the, um, the possible conflict. So to me, a lot of our partners would have been considered competitors years ago. And uh, once we got together it became a no brainer to work together because each of us, if we all send each other one person, we all of a sudden have a full bar. So it was the way to make our companies more profitable by working with each other. And I’ve even done that very clearly here in our local audience. I said we have many tabs here, but most of my competitors in my marketplace, I’ve reached out to to say, how can we make more money if you’re running a tour with 15 people and I’m running a tour of 15 people. If we combine those together, we can both make a profit as opposed to just running a tour as a goodwill project. So, you know, partnership, which with unlikely partners would be one of the things that really stand out to moving our company forward.

Nicole Mahoney: 16:16 Yeah, absolutely. And that’s actually a kind of a perfect segue into the other topic that we like to cover on the show, which is collaboration and um, you know, you’ve mentioned travel alliance partners and, and other collaborations, and I like to call it coopertition actually Richard, where, where perceived competitors come together and cooperate. And so I’m wondering if you can share in a little bit more detail about how some of those cooperative or coopertition relationships have really worked for you. Is there a specific example you can share?

Richard Arnold: 16:56 Well, there’s a number of examples and I’m going to move into a little bit away from even tour operators in this conversation. You know, the many conferences I’ve gone to and you know, I try not to be a chair of filler where wherever I am, I like to be engaged and interact with whoever is attending. And um, I meet with great suppliers from great parts of the world and great parts of both of our countries that have wonderful product. And my question to them is always, you know, how you know what, what can, what can you tell me that makes my customer or my wallet, why would they want to come to your area even though you’ve sold me on your destination, what can I use from our conversation that’s going to make them dig in their pocket? And they’ll open their wallet. And during those conversation, what we’ve found, you can be a destination that may not be a destination that always have people open their wallet, but you can get great business by partnering with a next door to us donation.

Richard Arnold: 18:01 So if you can figure out what is the law that gets people traveling through your area, you can still become part of someone else’s vacation. Let it be a group tour like I’m offering. So I really worked hard at trying to partner our cmos and our destinations together to say, how can you increase your business? And by them working together, they automatically have created the nugget for me that’s sellable. So that’s an example of, of, uh, the collaborative collaboration that I’ve tried to do through facilitation at my meetings with, you know, great destinations that struggled to get guests there and for me, you know, putting towards in my cab, like I often say to my clients, I’ve spent my career building beautiful trips, places that I would like to go. I put them in the catalog and no one buys it. So it’s disheartening and I have no interest in doing that.

Richard Arnold: 18:54 So I try to get my clients to give me an idea of where they like to go. But I also want to conversation with the clients because if I can mention some of those nuggets, I’m, you know, I’ll use the example we were just in Frankenmuth for our travel alliance partner a gem. And I kind of had a feel in my mind where it was, you know, all the years of, of talking with her and, and, uh, the family out of that area of Michigan. And I’m thinking, well, how do I ever get my people from Nova Scotia or Atlantic Canada that have an interest? Because I really don’t. I really struggle with the mid part of Canada as well as the US, you know, people want to go to places like the rockies, they want to go to places like Alaska or if southern destination, but I really struggle with, you know, those central parts of our country. And so to me, I came away from that show feeling very much, um, uh, or that meeting very much thinking the Christmas way, you know, to present a toward the Lord is going to be the Christmas component. I know that my guests will love what they experience when they’re there. It’s just how do I get them dealt in the wallet and I think maybe the festive Christmas of things might be one of the angles. So, you know, there’s a, I’m always trying to keep my eyes open for those opportunities and certainly one of them

Nicole Mahoney: 20:20 with you and Frankenmuth for that, for that meeting. So I can relate to what you’re describing. And I’m curious, Richard, um, when you go to destinations like that, what kinds of things are you looking for, for your customer? Um, you know, how does that creativity come to you as, as you’re exploring new places?

Richard Arnold: 20:44 Well, I’m always looking for activities and five and um, you know, you need to put the history of some of the museums in there, but you know, that’s not necessarily but resonates with most of my customers. They want a general get away that’s fun and full of entertainment. So, you know, the fact that when we are hosted by varying destinations like that agm being hosted by Frankenmuth, it’s an opportunity to engage owners like myself and I always make it a point if they invite me to stay on for a few days like, you know, herb for graciously did. And uh, and we were um, you know, in immersive what opportunities were available. You, um, you start building in your mind, what would be the high points that are going to help sell it and what are still gonna be a enjoyable visit? And you know, I’ll, I often refer back to another example years ago as a company.

Richard Arnold: 21:47 Our cash cow for many years was a Nashville guy, loved the Grand Ole Opry, love the music component. They loved all of that kind of stuff. Went along with the city of Nashville and you know, everyone had a great time there, but when we read the customer surveys at the end of the trip going down and coming back, we would pass through the state of Kentucky and often their favorite part of the trip ended up being Kentucky, but the reason they opened their wallet for Nashville and so I always try to keep my mind in that area of where can be as opposed to the reason for opening the wallet. So then you know, you can start building a future audience to go somewhere else based on the experience that they had a once you introduced it to, you know, there’s lots of angles you can take.

Nicole Mahoney: 22:44 I think that’s a really good point. I want to make sure listeners picked up on, but so you’re talking about you know, what’s going to make your customer open their wallet and buy that trip. But then you’re also talking about what’s going to make it memorable, right, so that they’ll want to either, you know, rebook with you or spread word of mouth in terms of what was most enjoyable and that those aren’t usually the same thing as what I’m hearing

Richard Arnold: 23:08 quite often. I mean, that’s been the best lesson in my years in the industry. It’s often not the same thing. And, and I look at, you know, the world wanting more independence and more choice, um, with the trip that I’m hosting each year, you know, the last couple of trips I posted or cruises and you know, one of my favorite partners is Norwegian cruise line. Because of that independence, you don’t have to all be at the 8:00 table with people you don’t know or you may not enjoy some of the standards that were around. And No, I mean a lot of the cruise lines is twitching. But you know, interestingly enough, I promote the freedom on all of our tours and we have components we call freedom of choice. And it’s a term that we use. But interestingly enough, people still like to get together every day for the comradery back in two days, and I build my future audience in my future trips around those relationships and uh, when they leave, uh, they’ve all become friends and acquaintances and you know, we’re getting a lot more single travelers that we once had.

Richard Arnold: 24:19 We’ve worked hard with the industry to get them embracing single travelers and lots of times they’re not single. They are traveling single. They have a spouse that may be traveled for their job their entire life and has less of an interest. And when I speak locally, um, on some of the radio shows and those kinds of things, that’s kind of some of the kind of conversation that I have is that, um, at one time you’d sit around and be miserable or end up hating your loved one for not doing what you want to do. And, uh, now with the relationships the way they are, it’s nice when this post as well, I don’t want to go, but why don’t you go and enjoy your vacation? And that’s where they liked the comradery and the safeness of group travel and then they meet other people and become friends and then they have a traveling companion for the future and they may never share because if you’re used to having your own room a or your own space, you may not necessarily want to share on your vacation. And so that’s becoming more widely available through us working with the travel trade and our partners to see the value in being more flexible with a single passengers.

Nicole Mahoney: 25:37 I love that idea of freedom, freedom of choice. And even if they don’t take you up on it, the fact that you’re saying that it’s there, I think just really kind of helps you know, attract people who might not have considered perhaps traveling or doing a group tour,

Richard Arnold: 25:55 you know, listening from even an attraction or restaurant side. It can, you know, everyone always wants all the business. That’s just the nature of good sales people working together. Um, you know, part of the whole the whole thing. But to me, I’m trying to work with cities to say, you know, I’d like to give the choice of my clients going out in your community and enjoying what restaurant they want to go to. So to make it easy for us, if you could work with two or three restaurants in the area, I think everyone will win as opposed to always trying to keep everyone I’m coming in as the group because to me when you’re on a group tour you also want the flexibility and like I said, it will prove itself fairly quickly that, that most people will do a similar thing anyway. But I think if you can reach out to your other partners, make it easy for them to be able to go out as couples and get away from the rest of the group now.

Richard Arnold: 26:58 And then, um, you know, it’s a great opportunity for you. So I’d encourage, you know, even attraction rather than, you know, most tours only have the room to fit one or two attractions in, in the morning. But if you can stay in a downtown area where three or four tracks, to me, if we can give a generic attraction path than we can accommodate more people interests and needs and I think create a more happy environment for them because if you’re not a museum person then you’re never going to be a museum person. That’s just not something you enjoy where you might like something that’s a little more hands on.

Nicole Mahoney: 27:39 That’s really great advice. So, Richard, I want to give you the opportunity to talk a little bit about Atlantic tours and the type of work that you do and I’m wondering if as you kind of share with us a little bit about what Atlantic tours does because I know you have, you have a lot of product in Atlantic Canada as well as taking trips outbound. Um, and then also at the same time, if you could share with us any, anything that’s coming down the road that you’re particularly excited about.

Richard Arnold: 28:11 Okay. Well, as a company, I mean our bread and butter is bringing the world to see Atlantic Canada. That’s one segment of our company. And we have our guaranteed departure that cover all for Atlantic provinces and for those that aren’t familiar with our region, uh, my office is in Nova Scotia, next to us is the province of New Brunswick and then we have the smallest province in Canada that Prince Edward Island. And then we have a province that’s very large called Newfoundland and Labrador. And part of it is an island in the other part is the big land that stretches to our north on the Atlantic Ocean side of, of Canada. And we’re the second largest country in the world. And I always like to say this is where it all began because the first meeting from Canada for Canada to becoming a country with health and beautiful prints over the island, uh, in 18, 64. And the following that meeting, we became a country in 18, 67 in two of the original provinces of Canada where the province of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick now. Interesting that Prince Edward Island, how, how’s the meeting? But initially didn’t jump on board. They waited five years to become part of Canada. And then we have Newfoundland and Labrador, which was the last province to become a part of Canada.

Richard Arnold: 29:31 I always say it sort of began and grew and expanded here on the east coast. And we’re up above me and uh, we have a project traditionally when people come, they do the maritime provinces first and when I use that term maritime provinces, that refers to the Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island. And that was a term that was used before new Finland joined Canada, Newfoundland Join Canada. We became known as Atlantic Canada. So I always say if I refer to the maritime provinces, I’m referring to everything with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador. And I’m using Atlantic Canada. It encompasses all four provinces. So, uh, to do each province you need somewhere in the vicinity of seven to 10 even better. Our programs are both 13 days. So we have a maritime tour, the 13 days and a newfoundland and Labrador tour that 13 days. And if you combine it, it becomes a 23 day tour.

Richard Arnold: 30:28 And we are very flexible as a company, we can sell you the whole 23 days or we can sell you tours as short as one or two days and they’re all part of the same tour. We’ve become experts in, like I said earlier, making our tourist flexible. So if you want to come and do a self drive for a few days, we plan yourself drive. And then for the beautiful cabot trail portion of the trip, you could do an escorted tour so we can mix and match just the way you wanted. The other segment of our company is taking folks from Atlantic Canada to see the world and that’s the outbound business that we talk about. We also do student travel a predominantly, it’s a performance group that are going off to places like New York City to see shows and that kind of thing. Or to see our capital of uh, Ottawa or maybe beautiful Quebec city’s a UNESCO world heritage part of Quebec.

Richard Arnold: 31:24 And then we do step on guide services for many other companies that come our direction. So even though they may be in their own motor coach or their own group, we will have a guide on board to look after all their needs and give the commentary at the local area. And uh, then we have our customization are tailor made programs that we do for other companies under their name. Uh, let it be just one departure, a multiple departures. We actually are the people on the ground that build that program for you and no one knows that unless you want them to know it basically operates under your own name. And uh, we are the background and our tour manager that as you, uh, on the, uh, as well. So we do a mixture of a retail and a group program, a wholesale program. Now, with that said, I mean, why do people come to Atlantic Canada?

Richard Arnold: 32:17 Well, um, we have beautiful seafaring heritage, beautiful culinary with our lobster, our scallops and muscles, um, or even our northern shrimp are a delicacy here, different lands in Labrador. We have the triple crown. I always say we have the whale, we have the icebergs in the spring and we have the Moose, lots of Moose throughout our region, all that great seafood. And uh, like I said, the community spirit is alive and well. There are storytellers, our music, our Celtic music or Acadian music. I’m very much follow through with our storytelling and uh, you know, beautiful, untouched scenery and the seascape and uh, you know, something I’m very proud to be showcasing to the world. Uh, is Atlantic Canada.

Nicole Mahoney: 33:15 I can’t wait to get there. I had on my bucket list. So I need to get up there to see you because I know a few people here the coal, but also what I appreciate about you describing that and I think this is useful for our listeners to understand because tour and travel, there are so many different ways for businesses like yours to work. And so I think it’s really helpful for listeners to understand the many different ways that you do work. And you know, as you were describing that you do retail and group programs, but then all of the many ways that you execute on that, and it could be from a small self drive itinerary all the way to a 23 day tour to an outbound tour. And so I think that’s really helpful for folks to understand.

Richard Arnold: 34:13 We created a separate catalog for probably close to eight to 10 years of self drive for what we often use the term in this industry. I’ve, I’ve of changed it used to be fit and still, but no one really knew what it was because a lot of people sitter sending one person on my guaranteed departure trip fit. So I actually used the term self drive, but we created the separate catalog and our sales were dismal by that. And a number of years ago now we decided our escorted tours are already excellent itinerary. Why are we reinventing the wheel? All he did was take those tours, took out the components that don’t make sense, independent the cation and showcase them in the same catalog. And basically they started flying off the shelf.

Richard Arnold: 35:05 So I guess we were making the too complicated, we were making too many choices. People still need the structure for, so our escorted tours give them that structure, no one ever buys it as is, they’re always going to add a pre or post night there for golfing or whale watching. And you know, that’s the other thing that’s a very um, prevalent in this area where the summer feeding ground for the North American endangered right whale in addition to all the other species that come here. So all of our programs include upwards of two to three boat tours on every tour. Um, and once again can be included in those self-drive itineraries and those are the hot button items that people are looking for today. Like the iceberg, like the whales, like the Moose and we can’t lose sight of those beautiful little pop loves as well.

Nicole Mahoney: 35:58 Absolutely. Well, wildlife for sure. And I have a 12 year old daughter is just dying to Cmos, so we’ve definitely got to get up there. Sometimes

Richard Arnold: 36:06 surprise it became that you didn’t see one, especially Newfoundland and Labrador. I often joke and say, I think it was more than people and you go through and I often for our American friends, but no ally, I always say Newfoundland and Labrador, the Alaska, you know, we don’t have the glace, but we have the iceberg that break off Greenland and float down, uh, in the spring and throughout June, early July. That is phenomenal to see. And everyday the iceberg change based on flipping and rotating because when you see an iceberg, 90 percent of the ice is below the water. You’re only seeing 10 percent above. So it’s a huge piece of ice starts to melt. And the weight redistributes itself, it’s always rolling and moving. And so, uh, you know, the other thing is to actually go out and have iceberg ice in your beverage. It’s kind of a neat thing to do with used to that old.

Nicole Mahoney: 37:06 That’s amazing. Um, so I, I really appreciate the time that you’ve been spending with us. Richard. I have just one more question that I’d like to ask you about. And with this one, it’s more because I know you a little bit and I know that you do play a role in your local or regional tourism office, right? Is that correct? You’re on the board. I believe

Richard Arnold: 37:31 I’m, I’m the, I’m not the treasurer a job. I’m on the board of discover Halifax. It’s a treasure for a lot of years and I’ve been on that board and certainly play a major role in the provinces, tourism departments because I’m one of the people traveling and presenting all four provinces.

Nicole Mahoney: 37:50 Right. Absolutely. And I’m wondering if you can share some perspective with us. Um, and this, this question is actually not on the question list that you got ahead of this interview because it’s one I’ve just been starting to ask. Um, but I, I’ve been hearing a lot out there in the tourism industry discussion about the changing role of the DMO or the CVB and um, kind of how the deemos and cvbs are now taking more of a holistic approach to managing the destination. And it’s not just about getting the visitors there, but there’s also this role that they play locally. Um, you know, by engaging the locals at the same time, and I’m wondering if you’re seeing anything like that, uh, in your area and in the work that you’re doing with discover halo effects.

Richard Arnold: 38:38 Well, for sure we’re trying to get more members, not that in fact, you know, what we’ve done is we have reduced our membership substantially to try to get more business engaged, know the value of tourism and we spend a lot of money and effort in tourism awareness that every community doesn’t matter where you work in that community, let it be the service station, the local corner store, um, you know, at the crosswalk, any of those kinds of things, the importance of the visitor to our region. And, and along with that, I’m trying to get them to be engaged and be part of the solution. I mean, everyone is quick to jump on deemos for Roi. I’m not liking the marketing campaigns, etc. Etc. But at thE end of the day, um, you know, get off your behind and be part of the solution and work with us to bring more people here.

Richard Arnold: 39:44 And so that’s the kind of work that we’ve tried to do by getting, you know, to me, if, if the fee to become part of our community is $95 a year, then certainly if you have a business, you should be able to afford that. Put yourself out there on the front lines, be part of the solution to bring more business here when we bring decision makers to the area, you know, sharpen your pencil, um, show them what you have, not always been looking for a handout and those kinds of things. So, you know, it’s tough words to say. Um, But certainly, um, we’re trying to engage more of that. Uh, uh, as an industry person, um, I work really closely and, and, um, loved the relationship I’ve developed with our partners because they can see what I give back to the industry in this city.

Richard Arnold: 40:43 I are in the province or in any of the area that I’m in. If I’m available and I can help secure future business, uh, I donate my time. It’s all part and parcel of getting people here the same as trying to go to these, these big shows. I mean at one time there were 20 or 30 from an area waving the flag to get business and now often we’re down to one, two, three or people waving the flag and the world has become a bigger place and out of sight, out of mind. So we need to be all engaged and working together to convince the world to come and enjoy what we have to do. So that means partnerships, that means thinking creatively, taking the limited funds that we have, pulling them together and making a bigger footprint or impact.

Nicole Mahoney: 41:34 Yeah. I think those are all very excellent words of advice and, uh, and learnings for, for our listeners. And I think you really hit on it, um, when you talked about the whole idea of tourism awareness and really getting, you know, folks in the community even at, you know, at the gas station to understand how much visitors impact that community and how important they are. And then all the way to talking about how you donate your time to help secure a future business and how when you’re out, uh, you know, uh, in the world at those shows how you coordinate with your partners and I think that was all really terrific and, and that’s a lot of what I’ve been hearing a lot of conversation about and seeing a lot in terms of deemos and cvbs kind of expanding and, and I’m trying to bring more folks into the fold. so I think that was awesome. Thank you very much.

Richard Arnold: 42:36 Oh whoa. You know, your, your destination on the left. It was nice to be asked to be part of your show and hopefully I was able to give them information that will help others with the decision makers.

Nicole Mahoney: 42:53 Absolutely. Absolutely. did that. And thank you so much for being with us.

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