- Business Name: Innu Camp Telina
- Owner Name: Veronique Andre and Albert Vollant
- Website: www.destinationsept-iles.com
- # Of Staff Employed: We employ 2 part-time in the community, 2 full-time around 20 people during cruise line stopover days.
- Types Of Experiences Offered: We develop the Innu cultural experience, a major appeal of the Port of call of Sept-Îles.
- # Of Years In Business: 5
- Target Markets: International cruise lines
How long have you been working with the cruise industry?
Our partnership was formed in 2010, and consists of the Port of Sept-Îles, various economic and tourism stakeholders in that city, and representatives of the Innu community. Our mission is to teach the Innu lifestyle.
What types of experiences are you currently offering to the cruise industry?
We offer excursions specifically at providing an insight into the Innu culture as well as the natural, cultural and economic aspects of Sept-Îles. The Ultimate Innu Experience, our main activity, allows cruise passengers to discover different aspects of the Innu culture, such as hunting, traditional fishing, crafts, traditional medicine, Innu gastronomy, spirituality and more. Five tents have been installed on site in which each theme is discussed for around ten minutes. The site can accommodate up to 480 cruise passengers during an 8-hour stopover.
How many cruise ship passengers are you servicing on an annual basis?
In 2013, nearly 600 passengers chose the Ultimate Innu Experience package. This number exceeded 1000 the following year. Since we’ve been offering this package, the number of visitors has been growing year after year.
What is the percentage of your overall bookings / revenue you get from the cruise industry?
Nearly 80 % is derived from the cruise industry, which has seen a significant increase in its number of visitors.
What strategies did you apply to start working with the cruise industry?
The business partnership between the Sept-Iles Port of call and the Innu site was established gradually. This partnership is important to developing the Innu community’s tourism industry by integrating activities pertaining to our culture in the package offered to cruise passengers.
How do you keep in touch with the cruise lines coming to your region?
The Innu community is directly involved in familiarization tours. We liaise with the cruise lines, be it for marketing or follow-ups. However, there is an increasing need for the presence of Innu representatives in administrative boards, advisory committees and meetings with cruise line representatives.
What are your challenges in working with the cruise industry?
The biggest challenges are often linked to their specific requirements. The product has to be marketable and meet certain needs. Experience providers need to have a good understanding of these expectations and undergo adequate training. We must constantly adapt to the needs of the cruise industry, be versatile, and target groups whose recurrence rate is very low, say 4 to 8 cruise-days per year. For now, it is difficult to create seasonal tour companies only for cruise passengers and we have to combine this business with other activities to be able to sustain full-time seasonal jobs.
What are your wins in working with the cruise industry?
The cruise industry has provided opportunities for our enterprise to develop the tourism experiences which not only target the cruise passengers but can also cater to locals and touring visitors.
What’s been your biggest lesson in working with the cruise industry?
It requires great adaptability and discipline on several levels. Meeting and greeting groups is always subject to the strict schedule of the cruise lines. Careful planning is needed to further develop this aspect of hospitality. Preparations associated with a one-day stopover require the same energy as holding a major event
Any tips for others?
The best advice we can give is to sell only one product that they are 100% confident they will be able to deliver on time… The development of a shore excursion for the cruise industry requires a stable level of quality in all the proposed activities.
Any final words of wisdom?
The fact that both the Innu and non-Indigenous communities of Sept-Îles are working together on this project has greatly contributed to creating a harmonious and trust-based relationship between the two groups.