October 27, 2016:  Scott Gillingwaters, “UTRA Turtle Conservation”, Diane Sewell will introduce our speaker.

Head Table:  Our President Kevin Silver, invites, Diane Sewell, Rick Orr, Andrea Page, Doug Page, Craig Pearce, Austin Pierce and Arlene Pol, to join him at the head table.
This Week:  Kristen Sainsbury, Executive Director of the Stratford Tourism Alliance (STA) spoke to Rotary to update us on what is happening at the Alliance and the important role that it plays in ensuring that Stratford continues to have a high profile within the travel industry and for visitors to our city. Established in 2007 the mandate is to act as a member and industry driven private sector not-for-profit organization and to manage, develop, promote and publicize "Destination Stratford" as a national and international tourism destination.  The STA is funded by membership fees, consumer accommodation fees, advertising, partnership funds and the City of Stratford.
Kristen Sainsbury Executive Director of STA was our guest speaker this week.
Ms Sainsbury explained that despite going through some challenging times, the organization has achieved a solid basis with 183 members representing all sectors of the tourism industry in Stratford, revamped its website, social media and online presence, and is engaged in actively assisting members with marketing and digital branding.  Ms Sainsbury cited a dizzying, and very encouraging, array of statistics, which showed that the Alliance directly assisted over 65,000 visitors through its two public offices with reservations, accessing local events and providing information on Stratford’s many attractions; generated 200,000 referrals; had over 2,000,000 online visitors; and monitored 14,000 Trip Advisor reviews among other highlights.  Indeed, she pointed out that increasingly tourists rely on the Internet for planning their trips – 94% do research on the Net and 74% seek out word-of-mouth recommendations and comments on sites like Trip Advisor.
The Alliance also produces guides to city attractions – culinary, cultural, heritage, walking and outdoors, shopping – as well as a much appreciated map and events schedule.  Local associations, like Rotary, and events such as the Garlic Festival and the Stratford Summer Music use the prominent locations of the Alliance’s offices to advertise their activities.  As part of its marketing activity, the STA encourages articles in mainstream and online media (100+ so far this year). In addition, staff will provide advice for members in dealing with the public, esp. around complaints or bad reviews.
The goal of the STA is to strengthen the local economy and enrich the quality of life in the City of Stratford and area. Tourism contributes over $130, 000, 000 to the economy of Stratford, and this community is considered to be one of the leading tourist destinations in Canada. Recently Stratford was identified as one the Top Romantic Destinations in North America! 
Strategically, Ms Sainsbury outlined some of the ongoing initiatives of the STA – to engage in industry benchmarketing, increase visitor surveys, enhance communications within the tourism industry and with consumers, to continue building partnerships with other organizations and government, improve governance and achieve sound financial planning and sustainability.
Globally, the competition for tourist attention and dollars in intense and fast-changing.  The STA, under Ms Sainsbury’s leadership, is firmly focused on growing Stratford’s “brand”, supporting new businesses and events within the community, boosting best-practices in customer service, and encouraging more visitors to come and enjoy the delights of Stratford.
Scribe: Guy Chadsey
President Kevin Presented the following ribbons, Rena Spevack Orr (200), Steve Rae (1000), Rob Ritz (1400), Angus MacDermid (2100)
Guests: Today we welcomed Laura Pogson - Festival City Rotary Club
R.L Read - Stratford, Past President, Inner Wheel, Cobourg, On. 

Draw: The draw prize today was donated by Anonymous donor, and was won by Bob Lightfoot.
Make-ups: Nothing to report.
October’s Attendance Committee: Lyn McKone (I/C), Carolyn Blackburn, Cindy Hyde, Rob Ritz, Peter Roach, Carolyn Champagne, George Schroeder, Doug Thompson, Angus MacDermid, Gary Wreford.
November’s Attendance Committee: Doug Wilson (I/C), Bill Cozyn, Clark Mitchell, Lorne Mitchell, Jim Young, Howard Murray, Marcia Matsui, Lutzen Reidstra, Dave Skinner, Philip Schroeder.