Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab partners with WEtech Alliance to Launch Digital Shift Series

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Media Release

Virtual Workshops Aimed at Creating Sustainable Digital Adoption for Small Businesses planning COVID-19 Recovery

Windsor, ON (April 29, 2020) – The Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab, a Windsor-based tourism development incubator, has partnered with WEtech Alliance to help support hard-hit tourism and direct-to-customer businesses in the province.

The Digital Shift Series includes monthly virtual workshops designed to give tourism businesses the tangible tools they need to develop their own sustainable digital strategy.

“With the current crisis presenting unbelievable challenges for small businesses in the tourism sector, we engaged with our colleagues at WEtech to discuss ways we could help” said Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead for the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab. “We have been inspired by innovative entrepreneurs who have pivoted their businesses in a matter of days and weeks utilizing technology.” 

Each monthly one-hour workshop will include a special “Shift Expert” conversation in addition to a mix of tangible tools and templates for take-away learning.

“When building the framework for this series, we looked closely at the culture found within the tech startups we work with” said Adam Castle, Director of Venture Services for WEtech Alliance. “By coupling an agile framework with knowledge from industry experts, WEtech hopes these workshops will leave entrepreneurs and small business owners with the right tools in their toolbox to create sustainable change within Ontario’s tourism and small business sectors”.

Each monthly workshop will feature 4 key parts:

REACT – Immediate response opportunities to the current situation, a deep dive into data, stories, and success in their industry from a global perspective – Learning how to use the WEtech Alliance SHIFT business experiment template, which aims to help businesses create low cost experiments to test out new markets, models, and customers.

PLAN – Using a 3-month milestone tracker, businesses will learn the fundamental skill of re-assessing their value proposition, and exploring what needs to change, stay the same, or stay fluid in order to push forward.

RECOVER – Building on the first two tools, businesses will learn how to assess their experiments to determine if they have long term and sustainable changes they can make, or assess the need to go back to the innovation well for more ideas.

ZOOM-SIDE-CHAT – Leveraging the incredible depth of expertise found within the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab network, each workshop will conclude with a conversation with Ontario “Shift Experts” who have made digital pivots to their own business, and can share the tangible learnings and potential pitfalls of finding new ways to deliver value online.

The Digital Shift series was inspired from an immediate need to support rural tourism companies and small businesses within communities such as Essex and Chatham-Kent Counties.

“COVID has brought about the need for major change in how we do business, live our lives, and experience the world. Now is the time to reimagine and reinvent how we connect with people, places, and our drive to explore,” said Andrew Tompsett, Chatham-Kent Economic Development. “The Digital Shift Series gives entrepreneurs and business owners tools that are practical and can be implemented quickly so their business plans can evolve to meet the needs of the new economy.”

Shift Experts will be confirmed at the beginning of every month. The first webinar will take place Tuesday, May 19th at 3pm with “Shift Experts” from WindsorEats, an award-winning tourism business and innovator.

The Digital Shift Series has been made possible with the support of the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, and is open to small businesses in Ontario. There is no cost to attend but space is limited. Registration is now open for the first of the webinars, with future sessions being added to our Eventbrite page.