Experience Development Coaches
Ontario’s Southwest has put a high priority on investing in Experience Development, and for good reason! It’s adding new revenue streams for businesses, and attracting travellers who care about the destinations they visit, it’s people, and love learning new things. Every fall we host “Unlocked & Inspired” Experience Development Training, but if you’re looking for help in the meantime to create meaningful experiences that can add new revenue to your business, this team of certified Experience Development Coaches are here to help!
Meet your Coaches:
I am responsible for marketing initiatives and was recently made the lead in implementing a new tourism website to launch in the summer of 2019. My background prior to working for Haldimand County was in corporate event, tradeshow and conference management. My passions include fishing with my father, sewing costumes for my kids to wear to ComicCon; and camping or travelling with my teenagers Marina and Simon (I leave my husband at home with our pets).
I look after content creation for Tourism Oxford. That includes anything from blogging and vlogging to social media and trip inspiration. Writing is my biggest passion (which is good because I do a lot of it)! A lover of cheese, when you don’t find me testing the latest Oxford curds, you’ll find me travelling to see my favourite bands or finding a new lake to swim in. I can’t wait to see Southwestern Ontario represented with authentic experiences and to help tell that story.
As the founder and co-owner of WindsorEats, Adriano Ciotoli is a food and drink tourism expert with a proven track record of helping organizations and businesses generate new and increased revenue through enhanced experiences and marketing. He was named Tourism Champion of the Year for Ontario in 2017 for his efforts. On top of talking the talk and helping others, Adriano also walks the walk, creating many unforgettable, immersive experiences through WindsorEats that his guests rave about. His business, WindsorEats, was awarded the Culinary Tourism Leadership Award by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, and more recently, the Best Small-Medium Sized Tourism Business in Canada by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
Susan is excited for the future of tourism. With the power to transform, she believes tourism and storytelling will help change communities. With the opportunity to truly impact an individual and their travel and purchasing behaviours, Susan believes that providing the right experiences to the ideal guests are a way to build strong relationships and long lasting friendships as seen in her wine, beer, and cider tour company, Ride the Bine.
The Culture and Tourism Developer for the Municipality of Leamington, Kyra is also a member of the SWOTC Board of Directors. She’s passionate about a number of things—her amazing family, photography, food, and telling authentic stories about communities. She hopes that by training people to develop experiences she can keep community as front and centre in tourism development and help Ontario’s Southwest continue to deliver exceptional experiences to its visitors.
I grew up surrounded by tourism on Prince Edward Island. Like most islanders I grew up with a love of storytelling and as a result shared stories with visitors to give them a glimpse of our life and put a smile on their face. Tourism for some provides escape, but what I value is when it provides a connection. I look for this when I travel wanting to connect with the earth, the food, the culture and also connect with myself. I have discovered that hiking adventures provide such an opportunity. I am passionate about the vitality of our environment and our communities and recognize the importance of supporting local producers and creators. I carry this attitude into my travel eating local and supporting local businesses. A community’s strength lies in its people. Sometimes this comes at a higher upfront cost, but the payoff is the vibrant community that will sustain us and provide pleasure for visitors for years to come.
Aileen leads Mellor Murray Consulting, helping businesses and communities to determine and achieve their goals. Prior to establishing Mellor Murray Consulting in 2009, Aileen worked with Chatham-Kent Economic Development and Tourism for a decade where she was responsible for the Municipality’s business retention and attraction, entrepreneurship and tourism programs. She managed Middlesex County’s Economic Development Department and tourism program and was part of the RTO #1 Transition Team. Aileen is an avid traveler. She has biked down a crater in Hawaii, picked figs from a hillside in Tuscany and enjoyed a lighthouse picnic in Newfoundland. Locally she loves visiting road side produce stands, discovering local cideries, yoga on the beach in Grand Bend and kayaking on the Ausable River.
Jaymie Nelson is a Senior Economic Development Officer in Haldimand County and loves supporting rural communities and their economic growth. She is enthusiastic to coach and support local tourism and small businesses – and works to find those in her community with the knack to live and work genuinely, and who inspire us to attempt the same. Along with her passion for the tourism industry, Jaymie’s other joys are spending time with her family, soaking in the great outdoors, and road tripping to explore the hidden gems of Ontario’s Southwest.
Working with the Elgin/ St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre and Railway City Tourism, Sarah is excited to connect with small businesses ready to craft experiences building sustainable tourism opportunities that celebrate the rich agricultural traditions of Elgin County and highlight the growing Arts, Culture and Culinary community. Rural markets are primed to share authentic experience and often stories that span generations with locals and visitors to the community. In building experience based tourism opportunities, those stories and communities can thrive for generations to come.
As Supervisor of Tourism Development for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, I get to work with passionate tourism operators every day. My favourite part of the job is when sit down one on one and they have an “aha” moment. I love to travel, and a year without having taken a trip somewhere (alone or with my husband and two young girls) is wasted in my mind! I believe in the philosophy of collecting memories not stuff!
Born on a family farm in Chatham Kent. Paul has had a lifetime of experience working in the food system at various levels and this has created in him a passion for connecting farmers and consumers. Building culinary events focused on food and farming has helped him see a strong need in the marketplace for Agri Tourism or Agritainment in SW Ontario. Participating in the training with both Ontario’s Southwest and Celes on Experiential Tourism to become the coach has allowed him to help others see if this type of product and programing are correct for their rural businesses. He would love to help you out!
Susanne Spence Wilkins has woven her passion for history, gardening and writing into her rural community’s story for over 25 years. Now, she is creating tourism experiences at her business, Crazy 8 Barn in Palmyra, Ontario. As a Tourism Experience Coach, Susanne brings a the small business owner's perspective to developing new experiences while maintaining existing operations. She will help you discover your local partners; focus on your story; create more income with your current resources; and have fun doing it. If you need help taking on the challenge, contact Susanne.
As the CED Coordinator for Community Futures Oxford, Lindsay has a passion for sustainable community development in rural communities. She has experience and genuine interest in helping business owners understand their story and share it as an authentic marketing tool to grow their business. Experiential tourism gives business owners the unique opportunity to add new revenue streams through storytelling and getting back to the skills and passion that drive their business. Lindsay is excited about all of the ways in which experiential tourism gives communities the platform to work collaboratively to grow the tourism industry. When not practicing a joy for CED, Lindsay can be found exploring the outdoors with her young family, sampling the newest craft IPA or searching for a new house plant.
I love working with tourism operators, the ones who follow their passion and choose to share what they’re excited about with the world. It’s not easy being in the tourism industry, so you know the operators who are here are the ones who put their whole heart into it, and that’s what motivates me to find meaningful ways we can work together to help.
Tourism can help our communities be more sustainable by shaping meaningful programming around the people who live here, their stories, and making truly memorable experiences for travelers.