| Apr 14, 2005

Feature article,April 14, 2005

Feature article April 14, 2005

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Tourist operators snub the internet

by Jeff Green

When Lisa Bell started interviewing members of the Land O Lakes Tourist Association as part of a marketing project she has undertaken for the Association, she did not expect to find a wariness towards internet technology.

However, now that she has interviewed about 40 of the 200 members of the Association, she has noted a surprising trend.

Only two of the operators offer or will be offering internet access to travellers at their resort, campground or cottages in the upcoming season, Lisa Bell said. She also found that most of the operators did not know the location of the nearest Community Access Portal (CAP) site where there is public internet access, in order to tell customers the nearest location where they can check email, etc.


Generally the operators said they did not think their customers were interested in internet access, thinking they came out here to get away from it all; but in the same breath the operators say they get good weekend business but need more business during the week. There are very few people that can take a week off without checking in with their business. They need to access the internet even if they are away from the office.

Offering minimal service need not cost very much money, Bell argues. It can be as simple as making a phone plug-in available for people to connect their lap top, for a reasonable fee, Lisa Bell said. People want to stay in touch with their home and business.

Its not as if Lisa Bell has been interviewing older operators, either. Few of the business owners I have contacted are over 50 years old. Many businesses in the Land OLakes region have been taken over by new people, often young couples. These new operators are coming from areas outside this region. Unfortunately some associate technology with the hectic city life that they successfully left behind.

Ironically, some of the operators who bemoan the lack of high speed access in the Land O Lakes are also reluctant to provide service for their customers. They seem to feel that because they only have dial up, their customers would not be interested in having slow internet access while on vacation.

Bell has also found that few local operators have developed email booking systems, or online booking, and this is something she would like to see change.

The Ontario Provincial Park system has a class A internet booking system, and it has been very successful, she said.

Lisa Bell thinks local tourist operators are missing out by failing to fully develop their internet capacities.

Operators need to embrace the World Wide Web; it will only help their revenue, she said.

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