An Unexpected Accolade

This year, the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce brought back their Best of Colchester Awards. We had won as “Best B&B” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. With the return of the awards came new categories which – at first glance – we didn’t see ourselves fitting into until someone mentioned to me in passing, “I voted for you as ‘Best Home-based Business’ in the Best of Colchester awards.” Best home-based business? Upon reflection, we realized that category couldn’t fit much more perfectly!  In Nova Scotia, a B&B must be owner-occupied; Belgravia B&B is our home.

We were surprised to learn last week that we were finalists along with new local business, Leggo my Leggings, and we attended the ceremony on Thursday night. Since we are not what I first think of as a traditional home-based business, I assumed others would be of the same perception and did not expect that we would win. I was shocked when our names were called. As a result, I had to come up with some remarks on the spot which came from my heart.

I acknowledged the entrepreneurs in the room. When we first started our B&B in 2002 (this season will be Lucky #13!) I did not think of myself as an entrepreneur; I was just a young mom who was looking for an opportunity to spend more time with her children. Starting a “home-based business” was a way for me to fill that need while remaining involved in the Tourism industry in Nova Scotia.

Over the years, I have come to a new understanding of what my definition entrepreneurship is. To me, the word “entrepreneurship” means thinking creatively, recognizing and fulfilling needs, creating new opportunities, and taking risks. Someone with a home-based businesses is an entrepreneur just as much as someone who creates a business which employs 100 people. Entrepreneurship includes intrapreneurs and social entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a verb as much as it is a noun. I am, it turns out, an entrepreneur.

This change of thinking for me has taken place over a number of years. Back in 2002, that young mom never dreamed she’d  eventually end up teaching Applied Entrepreneurship – encouraging others to follow their dreams and create their own opportunities!

One year ago, the One Nova Scotia Commission released the report, “Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians” which recognizes that it is entrepreneurs who will lead the change to rebuild our economy. How energizing it was for us on Thursday night to be in a crowd filled with entrepreneurs of all types. We are grateful that the Chamber organizes the “Best of” awards each year and were pleased to be recognized with all of the other business owners, leaders, and supporters in the room that night.

Thank you to all those who took the time to vote for us!

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A bucket list item crossed off

Yesterday, I was able to cross an item off my bucket list.

After four years of traveling to Ithaca, NY in the summer, I earned a Certification in Strategic Management from The School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. When I was a student at Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia, earning my Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management, I would pour over the Cornell Quarterly Journals, filled with articles on current best practices in the industry.

Four years ago, during a Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) Board meeting, I learned of an opportunity to attend a Masterclass at the hotel school and immediately began the application process. After I finished that first course, I knew I wanted to finish the entire certification. The networking that I have been able to do through the people I have met has been invaluable. It is amazing to sit in a classroom and hear the stories of how others run their businesses around the world. This year, my class consisted of operators from Jamaica, Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, India, Italy, Dubai, Kuwait, Guatemala, and the US. My professor for this course was Ali Kasikci, Regional Managing Director of Belmond, Ltd. (formerly Orient-Express Hotels). His responsibilities include the management of eight properties within the company’s portfolio: El Encanto in Santa Barbara, The Inn at Perry Cabin, Maryland, the iconic ’21’ Club restaurant and bar, New York City, La Samanna, St. Martin, Maroma Resort and Spa, Riviera Maya, Casa de Sierra Navada, San Miguel de Allende, Copacabana Palace and Hotel das Cataratas, Brazil.

These courses take place during three full days of learning – early starts and late evenings. However, there is downtime as well. I was happy to have my friend Heather, General Manager of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Memphis, back in my class again. We were also staying at the same hotel, so had fun getting caught up since last year, and even made it to the Hanger Theatre in Ithaca on the second night, to see their opening-night production of “Around the World in 80 Days”. It was very well done and I’d recommend it as an activity if you are in this area!

The courses I had to take to achieve this certification were Strategic Hospitality Management, Strategic Marketing for Restaurants and Hotels, Strategic Financial Management, and Strategic Leadership in Turbulent Times. Each course was an amazing learning experience for me.

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First day of class

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The content of the course gave me lots of food for thought – especially for use within my own classroom

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Class time with Ali Kasikci

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Heather & myself, reunited and enjoying the sunshine at the opening reception after the first day.

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Professional Development Participants networking during the opening reception.

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Stowe Shoemaker, professor of Strategic Pricing for Hotels: Leveraging Consumer and Marketing Knowledge to Enhance Revenue, Heather, myself, and Ali Kasikci, professor of Strategic Leadership in Turbulent Times

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There were many questions and discussions

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Professor Kasikci was a wealth of knowledge

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Heather’s group, presenting on best practices for performance reviews, and how the process can be improved.

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Myself and Richard. He is the Director of Food & Beverage for Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean. We were finding new ways to improve internal communication.

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Opening night reception at the Hanger Theatre in Ithaca for their play, “Around the World in 80 Days”

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The view from my hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn, Ithaca. It is such a beautiful setting.

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I loved this slide.

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Receiving my Certification in Strategic Management

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Heather & I were the only two in our class to receive our full certifications this session. Hers is in Strategic Financial Management for Hotels.

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Can’t wait to hang this!

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And my course certificate.

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Heather & I enjoyed a celebratory dinner at Moosewood Restaurant before saying our goodbyes.

I am so thankful to TIANS and to my family for enabling and encouraging me to pursue and complete this dream. During class, we were asked, “Have you done anything in the past three years that you will talk about for the rest of your life?”

The answer for me is yes.

I completed a certification in Strategic Management from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.

 

The Nova Scotian Diet

Enough about me – we’ve had some other awards around this house lately. Sarah had her highland dance medal tests last week and earned a “Highly Commended” in both the pre-bronze and bronze categories; the highest level awarded. All four children came home with medals or trophies at the curling banquet; we were especially proud when Evan won a main award for participation, co-operations and sportsmanship. Last month, Sarah, Alex & Olivia had successful performances in the Truro Music Festival, participating in piano, voice & trumpet categories, earning a number of red and blue ribbons. Alex was asked to sing his folk song, “The Nova Scotian Diet” in the final concert and after his performance presented his music teacher, Chella Henderson, with flowers as she was acknowledged for her many years of teaching in the Truro area. (She was my music teacher growing up too!)

Enjoy the performance, videotaped by Sarah. 🙂

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

Recognition of Excellence 2014

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

On Wednesday of this week, tourism professionals from around the province gathered to celebrate at the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council’s (NSTHRC) 19th Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner at Casino Nova Scotia. As I’ve blogged before, this event is my favourite of the year. This is the event where front line staff from tourism businesses around the province get dressed up, mingle with industry leaders, and are recognized for their experience and dedication to tourism in Nova Scotia.

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

Some of my favourite Tourism People - Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance of Bay Ferries, Belgravia B&B, Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency, Ruth Mailloux, Suncatcher B&B, Ann & Larry MacCormack, Tulips & Thistle B&B and president of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

Some of my favourite Tourism People – Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance and Administration of Bay Ferries; D’Arcy & Anne McDonah from Belgravia B&B; Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency; Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B; Ann & Larry MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B and also President of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

The Casino is a lovely setting for this dinner, and it was fun to get caught up with friends at the opening reception, overlooking Halifax Harbour. We enjoyed an opening performance by John and Samantha Gracie before dining on a beautiful meal. The menu included a salad of baby leaf lettuce, flat leaf parsley, shaved carrot, garlic & shaved parmesan cheese, drizzled with a lime-corriander vinaigrette. This was followed by an entree of roasted chicken breast on soft polenta with green olive & sherry tapenade and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, we enjoyed triple chocolate mousse with fresh fruit.

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

The evening was especially special for me as I formally received my certificate as a Certified Hotel General Manager. This credential is recognized across the country, and it was announced last week that it will also be recognized by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. At the dinner, Wendy Swedlove, President of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) announced that soon, they will have a partnership signed which will mean this credential will be recognized internationally.

Wendy Swedlove, CTHRC

Wendy Swedlove, President of the CTHRC

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

There are currently only ten of us who have earned this credential in Canada, with five of us being from Nova Scotia. My other colleagues who received this credential on Wednesday were Jamie Bolduc from the Radisson Suite Hotel in Halifax, Phyllis Stephenson from the Best Western PLUS Chocolate Lake Hotel, Wes Surrett from Pictou Lodge Beach Resort, and Bernice Theriault from Drumlin Hills. Congratulations to each of you – I’m proud to be in such company!

I would like to thank Emerit, the CTHRC, and most of all the NSTHRC for your continued support and encouragement of all tourism professionals, but especially for the support you have shown to me.

My biggest supporter

My biggest supporter

 

With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

The Truro B&B girls - Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

The Truro B&B girls – Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

 Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

Feeling Accomplished

CHGM

As of today, I get to add some new letters to my signature. I’m now Anne McDonah, BTHM, CHGM, TCM

To anyone who’s not in the Tourism Industry, as you read you’re probably wondering what all the acronyms stand for?

BTHM = Bachelor of Tourism & Hospitality Management (Co-operative Education Route and I also took a few extra courses and received a Certificate of Business Administration.)

TCM = Tourism Trainer  (Tourism Certified Manager)

CHGM = Certified Hotel General Manager (Those are my newest letters.)

The TCM which I received in 2012, and the sparkly new CHGM are the “Red Seals” of the Tourism Industry.

From the Emerit website, a description:

“Leadership, budgeting and planning, human resource management, and the ability to put customer service first–do you have the skills it takes to be an effective Hotel General Manager?

Hotel General Managers need to excel at motivating and inspiring employees, while constantly monitoring, evaluating and adjusting all aspects of daily hotel operations. From developing room revenue strategies to monitoring public relations, managing capital projects to creating a guest service culture, effective Hotel General Managers ensure that everything runs smoothly–and generates profit.

The National Occupational Standards for Hotel General Manager include skills, knowledge and best practices in the following areas:

  • Operations
  • Human Resource Management
  • Guest Service
  • Business Management
  • Marketing
  • Leadership 

Professional Certification for Hotel General manager leads to the Certified Hotel General Manager (CHGM) designation, Canada’s first professional credential for the occupation.”

I was approached by the team at the Nova Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC) in March, while D’Arcy was in Brazil, to see if I’d be interested in challenging this certification. The designation is brand new and was designed so that not only managers of large properties would be able to achieve success, but managers of smaller properties as well. The process was thorough and I was on a tight timeline.  To complete the designation, I had to have over 1000 hours of experience, pass a two hour interview (last Wednesday afternoon – that was a lot of talking, even for me!) and pass a 125 question exam with a mark of 70% or more (today).

I had received a copy of the standards a few weeks ago, and when going over them to study, realized that I was either going to know it or not. I contacted a few colleagues from industry and the NSTHRC to try to calm my nerves, wondering if I was really qualified? They assured me I was.

Today was also the last day of the semester for my NSCC students so the past two weeks have been filled with papers, projects, portfolios, and presentations. I was in the classroom for presentations this morning from 8:30 – 12:30, then sat down in our Academic Support Centre at 1:00 to write the proctored test. (And did I mention we’ve had a full house at Belgravia B&B the past couple of nights?) Talk about having empathy for my students – I know exactly how overwhelmed and stressed out they’ve been feeling!

Because it was a computerized test, I received an email on my phone by the time I got back to my office with the news I had passed!!

I’m pretty excited!

I couldn’t have done this without the support of the TIANS and NSTHRC teams who encouraged me and believed in me. We’ve been discussing the Nova Scotian “It’s Now or Never” report in the Contemporary Business Issues course that I teach at NSCC, and recognizing the fact that we need to be working together and we need to be encouraging the Entrepreneurial spirit in our Province. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the investments TIANS and the NSTHRC have made in me/us since we started our B&B in 2003.

I’m also so grateful to my family for all their support and sacrifices to help me succeed. It would not be possible to do the things I manage to accomplish without them. It’s a whole team effort!

The formal recognition of my new credentials will happen at the NSTHRC’s Recognition of Excellence Dinner in Halifax in May.

Do you suppose I can have new business cards printed by then? 😉

With some of the TIANS/NSTHRC team when I was certified as a Tourism Trainer - Lisa Dahr, Kieu Lam, Anne McDonah, Lyndsay Leedham, Darlene Grant Fiander.

With some of the TIANS/NSTHRC team when I was certified as a Tourism Trainer in 2012 – Lisa Dahr, Kieu Lam, Anne McDonah, Lyndsay Leedham, Darlene Grant Fiander.

The most wonderful (and busiest) time of the year…

Things at the Belgravia are busy these days. We have had an exceptionally busy June, welcoming guests from-  literally – all over the world. At the same time, as a family of two teachers and four school-aged kids, we’re wrapping up the end of the school year. (Friday, June 28th is the last day of school, but who’s counting?!) We’ve been attending band concerts, piano recitals, dance recitals (highland, jazz, and ballet), cast parties, and awards ceremonies. Graduation at the college took place on Friday, and Alex sang at the Convocation ceremony. In the midst of all this, Olivia ended up back in the hospital with double pneumonia, Sarah had to have dental work done (including an extraction) and I completed two more courses for my Adult Education diploma. (I got a 95 in one, but haven’t received the mark for the other yet!) Oh yes, we also celebrated my birthday and Father’s Day.

Next week, the boys have their school awards and final band concert. Evan applied for his first job yesterday, so is anxious to hear about that and hoping to start soon. I’ll be attending a course all week this week, but at least it’s taking place here in Truro, so I won’t be commuting to Pictou daily. I’d like to say I’m looking forward to the lazy days of summer, but that doesn’t seem to be our style…

A few photos from the past month:

Sarah & Olivia before their dance recital. Olivia (ballet) Sarah (Jazz).

Sarah & Olivia before their dance recital. Olivia (ballet) Sarah (Jazz).

Olivia ended up back in the hospital for a couple of nights with double pneumonia after her dance recital, hence the breathing mask and full makeup!

Olivia ended up back in the hospital for a couple of nights with double pneumonia after her dance recital, hence the breathing mask and full makeup!

A 5km family run/bike ride along the Bay of Fundy on Father's Day

A 5km family run/bike ride along the Bay of Fundy on Father’s Day

We spent an afternoon swimming and fishing at our property in Tatamagouche.

After the sun finally came out in June, we spent an afternoon swimming and fishing at our property in Tatamagouche.

We were named Best Bed & Breakfast at the Best of Colchester Awards, sponsored by the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce.

We were named Best Bed & Breakfast at the Best of Colchester Awards, sponsored by the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce.

Not to be outdone on the day Sarah had a tooth pulled, Olivia lost her first tooth. The tooth fairy was busy at the Belgravia that night!

Not to be outdone on the day Sarah had a tooth pulled, Olivia lost her first tooth. The tooth fairy was busy at the Belgravia that night!

Alex sang O Canada at the NSCC Pictou Campus convocation ceremony in English, French, Mi'kmaq and ASL on National Aboriginal Day.

Alex sang O Canada at the NSCC Pictou Campus convocation ceremony in English, French, Mi’kmaq and ASL on National Aboriginal Day. Photo taken in my office before the ceremony began.

NSCC Pictou Campus' School of Business Faculty. Photo taken before the start of the 2013 Convocation.

NSCC Pictou Campus’ School of Business Faculty. Photo taken before the start of the 2013 Convocation.

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast Website

Best B&B in Colchester for the fourth time!

I’ve had so much to say in the past week, but it’s been so busy here, I haven’t had a moment to write it down. I’ll try not to be too long winded. Maybe I’ll just send out the biggest piece of news for now:

WE WON BEST BED & BREAKFAST IN COLCHESTER for the fourth year in a row last night! Yippee!

Really? It never gets old. We are so grateful for the support we have from our new guests, returning guests, friends, family, and colleagues. We honestly feel so fortunate that we have so many great quality B&B’s in Colchester County and we all work so well together. When you are surrounded by great quality, it sets the bar high. Since this week has been Tourism Week in Canada, I put in a plug when we accepted our award and reminded the 250+ people in attendance that “Tourism is everybody’s business.” We support local businesses as much as possible and we send our guests to local businesses. Our guests visit  local attractions and restaurants, but also fill up with gas at our gas stations, buy medications at our pharmacies, and pack their coolers at our grocery stores. Each and every interaction they have at these businesses forms their opinion of what Nova Scotians are really like.

We were thrilled to receive this award for the 4th year in a row and would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for us. It means so much!! You can see the complete list of winners by clicking on this sentence.

All of the other news will have to wait until tomorrow – we have to get breakfast organized for a full house…

Proof! Thank you to all who voted!! We think it's beautiful!

Proof! Thank you to all who voted!! We think it’s beautiful!

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The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website