Calgary is shifting from business to pleasure as it tries to attract more visitors to the city.
File / Postmedia
A significant drop in business travel to Calgary in the past few years has prompted a move by Tourism Calgary and Travel Alberta to diversify the city’s tourism industry.“When the recession began, business (travel) was at about 25 per cent of travel to Calgary, and since then it’s really backed off and created quite a big gap for our industry,” said Cindy Ady, Tourism Calgary CEO. “So there’s had to be a real re-reckoning, and leisure travel has become a big driver of that.”At Tourism Calgary’s annual general meeting on Thursday morning, Travel Alberta vice-president of industry and development Shelley Grollmuss announced Calgary was chosen as the sixth community to be selected for their SHiFT program.“SHiFT is a three-and-a-half day course that immerses tourism business and host communities in experience development, combining classroom training with excursions to local businesses that pilot these new experiences,” Grollmuss said.
Cindy Ady Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Calgary.
Jim Wells /
The SHiFT program has been to Drumheller, Jasper, Edmonton, Banff and, most recently, Sylvan Lake. Twenty-four businesses can register to participate and will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.“The premise is that people don’t want to just buy products and services, they want to be immersed in the experience . . . they want to be part of it,” she said. “Our goal is to create a cluster of experiential travel plans so it’s not just a one-off, it’s a community approach to tourism.”Dr. David Finch, associate professor of marketing at MRU, delivered the keynote speech at the meeting where he noted the importance of innovation in business through a creativity-first approach.Finch told the crowd of nearly 200 to “never ask how,” but rather to focus on the ideas, and that the how will sort itself out. He illustrated that successful business partnerships can transform an industry, mentioning Tesla and Toyota’s collaboration on an electric RAV4 and the explosion of the craft beer market in Alberta.Registration for SHiFT 2020 opens Oct. 7.