Williams Lake Visitor Centre
Today’s visitor services are about ensuring exemplary visitor information is available when and where visitors need it, with easy and dynamic access from anywhere in BC, at any time.
As part of our corporate strategy, Destination BC is working with the Visitor Services Network and the entire tourism industry to expand the delivery of visitor services for the future, by creating more contemporary and innovative approaches to serving our guests’ information needs as they travel throughout the province.
We are working with communities to evolve their visitor services to incorporate forward-thinking online, mobile and crowd-sourcing channels, alongside traditional visitor centres, as appropriate to each community. Input gathered from 20 consultation meetings between November 2014 and July 2015, helped Destination BC to develop the 2015 Visitor Services Pilot Project opportunity. Over $200,000 in support for 30 projects across BC tested mobile kiosks, roaming visitor counsellors, state-of-the-art electronic touch screen kiosks and social media channels. Key learnings from these Pilot Projects were documented and made available via an e-Library for other communities to learn from and build upon in the coming years. The Pilot Project initiative also informed Destination BC on the development of the Innovation Fund.
In 2016, the application-based Visitor Services Innovation Fund is providing $300,000 in support to current, full-status members of the Visitor Services Network Program. In total, 52 projects, representing 56 communities and spanning all tourism regions were submitted. All 52 applicants were successful and received full or partial funding within the program budget.
Highlights of some of the successful projects include: an environmentally-friendly ‘ice cream’ style bike as a mobile visitor services kiosk; roaming visitor counsellors or ambassadors at signature events; branded tents and banners for outreach activities; increased use of iPads and other enhanced technology, such as online concierge services, to serve guests’ needs; and cross-community product awareness and information sharing sessions for visitor counsellors to create collaboration and awareness within communities and surrounding areas.
Recently, the 2017 Visitor Services Innovation Fund was announced and once again $300,000 is being made available for current, full-status Visitor Services Network members. Applications are now being accepted and can be submitted until November 30, 2016. New projects are expected to begin as early as April 1, 2017 and must be completed by December 31, 2017.
An increase in the use of social media as a trip planning tool as well as a place to share experiences online has created an opportunity for Visitor Centres across British Columbia. Destination BC’s Social Media Visitor Services Program was created to provide an innovative way to connect with travellers online and provide the same level of exceptional service that people are experiencing in Visitor Centres. Visitor services teams are using digital and social media technology to proactively reach out and connect travellers with local tourism experts, answer their questions, and direct them to the many tourism experiences that British Columbia has to offer.
For more information about the Innovation Fund, please contact Karen Tunkara, Visitor Services Network Manager, at 250-356-5630 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Social Media Visitor Services Program, please contact Erin Monaghan, Digital/Social Media Visitor Services Specialist at 604-365-4744 or email@example.com.
Community Visitor Centres
More than 100 community-based Visitor Centres throughout British Columbia comprise the Visitor Services Network. Visitor Information Counsellors have a direct impact on visitors’ impressions of British Columbia, providing real-time, personalized visitor services through the visitors’ channel of choice and inspiring longer stays and travel in all regions of the province. In 2015, the Community Visitor Centres served more than 2.5 million visitors at their physical location and around their community.
In September 2015, Destination BC introduced a new 3 year-base funding model for the Visitor Services Network which will ensure more stable, predictable and equitable distribution of funding.
The goal of the visitor services strategy is to provide support, and tools and training to those communities and Visitor Centres that wish to have more flexibility in how they connect with visitors. A Training Task Force was established in 2015 with the goal of reviewing and re-writing the Tourism Visitor Information Counsellor training program to update the current content and add community-specific modules to acknowledge the uniqueness of each community. The task force is made up of Visitor Services Network members from across the province. The new training program was delivered to the Network in April 2016 and contains new modules on social media, the value of tourism in BC and the importance of Visitor Services in the “big picture”. Other modules were carried over from the old training program but have been updated. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tourism businesses should ensure Visitor Information Counsellors have access to up-to-date information by registering products and services in the HelloBC® Listings Program.
See a list of Visitor Centre locations
Visitor Centre Network Statistics Program
As members of the Network Program, Visitor Centres record statistics using Destination British Columbia's network website www.networkstats.tourismbc.com to view "Year over Year" reports.
British Columbia Visitor Centres
There are five British Columbia Visitor Centres situated at strategic border-entry points and travel corridors throughout the province. British Columbia Visitor Centres are located at Peace Arch Border Crossing, Merritt, Mount Robson Provincial Park, Golden and Osoyoos.
Community Visitor Centres
Provincial Visitor Centres
Innovation Fund drives improvements in Visitor Services
Destination BC’s 2016 Visitor Service Innovation Fund has fuelled improvements and new approaches around the province. For example, the Chetwynd Visitor Centre delivered mobile visitor services this summer with a tandem bike, a branded tent and signage, a portable table and chairs and tablet. Their mobile Visitor Services team assisted more than 1,000 visitors within their community.