The Cantrav team is excited to announce the launch of an Okanagan Valley office in Kelowna, BC.
As of January 1, 2017 Cantrav Services Inc. and Shop the Valley Destination Management have officially joined forces to provide creative, extraordinary, full-service destination management services in the Okanagan Valley, located about 400 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Cantrav to help showcase this incredible region, and all that it offers,” says Matthew Coyne, Vice President of Marketing & Sales. “Shop the Valley has become a destination expert in the Okanagan, and we’re thrilled to have this inside knowledge about the region’s offerings and potential as part of the growing Cantrav family.”
Tommi Hanley founded Shop the Valley as the Okanagan Valley’s first full-service destination management company (DMC) 13 years ago and has been providing clients with one-of-a-kind experiences influenced by the spectacular natural beauty of BC’s Okanagan Valley ever since.
Since moving to Kelowna 15 years ago, she has seen the region blossom into a sought-after destination, valued for its wide-open spaces, verdant farmland, rich vineyards, colourful orchards and crystal-clear lakes – all set against the stunning backdrop of the Cascade and Monashee mountain ranges.
The following is a short Q&A with Tommi about her background, and why the Okanagan is such a unique meeting and incentive destination.
Q: What is your professional background that led to working in destination management?
A: I’ve always been involved in the meetings and incentive industry. Earlier in my career, I was the editor of Meetings & Incentive Travel Magazine (M&IT) and co-founded the IncentiveWorks conference and trade show 26 years ago in Toronto. It’s now the country’s biggest and longest-running M&IT conference and trade show. In the early 1990s, I moved to Vancouver and opened a PR and marketing company that remained focussed on the meetings and incentive markets. Ten years later, our family moved to Kelowna.
Q: What made you decide to open a destination management company in Kelowna?
A: When direct flights from Toronto to Kelowna were launched in 2005, I saw the potential of the destination. Hosting journalists from around the world as part of my work in media relations with Tourism Kelowna allowed me to know what the region had to offer and I saw a great opportunity in the meetings and incentive industry. I became knowledgeable on everything the Okanagan had to offer.
Q: You’ve been involved with the local tourism and meetings industry for a long time. How have you seen the region evolve over time?
A: When I first moved here, Kelowna and the surrounding Okanagan Valley were not really known in Canada. Since then, the region has become a premier Canadian destination, recognized for our extraordinary food and wine experiences, as well as the outdoors and adventure possibilities. Our next step is to raise awareness of what we have to offer in the US and other international markets.
Q: How important is the Okanagan as an incentive destination to Cantrav’s mix of products?
A: The Okanagan is actually unique among Cantrav’s destination mix. For one, the region is ranked as one of the world’s top wine destinations. Also, because so much produce is grown here, there’s a substantial farm-to-table movement – which has attracted some of the country’s best chefs and sommeliers. The culinary experience might actually be one of the region’s biggest attractions. Then, of course, there’s the sheer beauty of the Okanagan Valley and all the outdoor experiences that our hot, dry climate supports.
Q: Indeed, how is the climate here different from that of Vancouver, Whistler, or most places in Canada?
A: It might come as surprise, but despite our proximity to the Lower Mainland, the weather here is very different. It’s extremely dry here. In fact, the Valley’s southern-most township, Osoyoos, is officially classified as a desert – with cacti, sagebrush and other related flora and fauna marking the landscape. It’s where most of our red wine grapes are grown. This kind of dry climate makes it ideal for us to host groups for outdoor activities, such as golf, from early April right through October.
In addition to the many experiences available in the Okanagan, the region is also easily accessible. Kelowna International Airport (YLW) is Canada’s 10th busiest, and operates more than 60 daily direct flights with a number of airlines, including Air Canada, Pacific Coastal Airlines, Transat, Alaska Air, WestJet and others.
For more information, visit the Cantrav Okanagan Valley office or reach out to Tommi directly at email@example.com.