Join Yukon Entrepreneur Teena Dickson, hunting outfitter/tour operator of Dickson Outfitters and Who What Where Tours as we catch up on what has been going on since we last connected in June of 2020 closer to the start of the pandemic.
(1:51) Tina shares their first memory of the pandemic. Whitehorse was just getting ready to host the Arctic Winter Games, and when the games were cancelled it had a huge, negative impact on the tourism and hospitality sectors. Second memory was when cancellations started happening and they were having to refund everyone, then the phone stopped ringing which was the true reality moment for them as they typically spent a lot of time on the phone previously.
(3:37) Teena shares what they have learned about their business model over the past two years. They found themselves really testing their values and revisiting who they were, which was a 100% local, community-based, Yukon business and they feel that this is why they survived.
(6:04) Looking at leadership, Teena shares that although leaders are pretty chatty, taking a step back, looking through a new lens and truly listening, allowed them to find opportunity in what’s going on and be able to plan for the future.
(8:21) Teena discusses the adaptation in their business they are most proud of being that they survived. They reinvested in the community, built some new partnerships and were able to still say yes and meet supply and demand.
(9:57) The most challenging public health measure for Teena and their business was the amount of extra cleaning time that needed to be incorporated into their travel times with the vans coming in and out with different clients. That and having to continue to remind people to space out and wear masks, knowing that they had most likely been on a plane wearing a mask all day got a little bit old for them.
(11:09) Teena shares the grant fatigue that occurs when having to fill out lots of applications for pandemic related supports. Being exhausted already, the paper trail added another level of exhaustion, although they do share, they are fortunate and grateful for it at the same time.
(13:02) At one time, Teena wanted to be the biggest, largest tour company, however they have found a very niche market and they realized they’ve found a really great place as a boutique tour company. They predict that travel is going to ramp up as people have been cooped up for too long and they share their worries around the tourism industry’s capacity when so much of it is understaffed right now.
(15:42) Teena hasn’t necessarily taken up new skills to better position themselves for the new economy, however they have found themselves using and further developing some skills they already had in their tool belt. They have found themselves better at relationships, being more understanding, nice, patient and having a bit more compassion for people.
(18:14) As the Yukon economy rebuilds, Teena hopes that Yukon becomes a frontrunner as a tourist destination and that it continues to build on the year-round tourism. They see partnerships being exceedingly key in being successful moving forward.
(20:18) Teena’s advice for emerging entrepreneurs? Have a diverse business model. Really understand yourself and don’t rely on funding. With this recovering industry, now more than ever, work even harder.
(21:10) One of Teena’s ‘aha moments’ during the pandemic was realizing that people really don’t understand the tourism industry and the impacts businesses like theirs have faced. They also predict that travel is going to become more of a necessity in the future which will result in way more people traveling.
(23:08) What wellness practices keep Teena grounded? Rediscovering the Yukon in their backyard and what an amazing place we live in. One of the many projects they took on during the pandemic was to start writing a book about visitor experiences to the Yukon and the unexpected things that happen on tours, and they’ve even started a second book that is more specific to the outfitting industry and their client experiences there.
(27:29) Wrapping up, Teena reflects on this process and shares that there is always opportunity. Things like this happen, great things always come when you’re living outside of your comfort zone, and a lot of people were challenged with their comfort zones over these last two years, so there are amazing things that could happen.
Thank you for watching!
To learn more about Teena and their businesses, visit their websites at:
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