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Creating a shining tourism experience for visitors to Ottawa

Ottawa Tourism’s new Shine On Program educates and celebrates the sector’s frontline staff

Ottawa Tourism
Ottawa Tourism

Frontline staff in Ottawa’s tourism industry will now have the opportunity to hone their hosting skills in the run-up to the summer travel period thanks to Ottawa Tourism’s new online program Shine On Academy

Designed to set the city’s tourism industry apart and ensure guests receive a memorable and lasting experience in Ottawa, the interactive learning tool teaches users about tourism in Ottawa, best practices in customer service and what to see and do in the capital. 

Built around four training modules and quizzes – which participants can complete on their own time, for free – the Shine On Academy provides users with valuable information on the importance of tourism to the city, and offers a breakdown of attractions, restaurants and more for each neighbourhood. The academy provides a completion certificate to participants who have successfully undertaken the academy’s modules. 

As tourism remains the industry hardest-hit by the pandemic, projects such as Shine On will help the recovery effort by elevating the visitor experience and showcasing what the city has to offer, says Kelly Haussler, director of destination development at Ottawa Tourism. 

“This program will help equip customer-facing staff with the information they need to be able to tailor recommendations to guests and offer visitors the localized experience they are looking for,” says Haussler. “Whether it’s a family with children, a couple looking for the best local brewery or recommendations on lunch spots in the market, Shine On users will have that knowledge at their fingertips.”

Celebrating top tier service

The Shine On Program is an evolution of Ottawa Tourism’s previous frontline training and recognition programs: the Ottawa Host Customer Service Training Tool and Stars of the City Recognition Program and Gala.

With the goal of combining the two programs, the destination marketing team took a page from Tourism Calgary, which has been successfully running the White Hat Awards for over 50 years, along with the more recently adopted White Hat Academy. 

“We are the first in Canada to white-label their product and create this tailor-made solution for Ottawa,” says Haussler. “Shine On took the best of that program and created this new, wonderful initiative for Ottawa that both celebrates and educates the frontline customer service sector.”

While the interactive, educational program will provide staff with the tools they need to create lasting impressions for guests, the Shine On Program also seeks to recognize those who continue to provide outstanding customer service in the region. 

Employers are encouraged to nominate employees who offer consistent, quality service for a Shine On Award, an annual celebration of excellence in frontline hospitality.

With categories such as Exceptional Service: Shopping, Exceptional Service: Hotel, and Exceptional Service: Tour Services, the awards aim to celebrate those employees who go the extra mile to create a positive visitor experience, says Jantine Van Kregten, director of communications at Ottawa Tourism.

“There are so many touch points a visitor will have with staff in the city, from a concierge, to a tour guide or restaurant employee that will impact their experience and stay in the city,” says Van Kregten. “In creating the Shine On Program, we thought it was important to highlight the impact those employees have on the tourism industry and recognize their role in making Ottawa an outstanding destination.” 

Nominations for the 2023 Shine On Awards are currently open for Ottawa Tourism members until the end of 2022, and will be judged by a panel of industry experts to determine winners in the 10 various categories. To find out more about the Shine On Academy or Shine On Awards visit