Midnight Musings from our CEO
My weekday mornings would not be complete without listening to Chris Walker on CBC Radio as I get ready for work. I tend to find out a tremendous amount about the entire region from his program and very often learn a few interesting business ideas. Recently he interviewed the owner of Happipad located here in Kelowna who has developed a novel approach to the housing challenges in the area through the creation of a new App called iGen.
The concept is brilliant and quite simple. Bring together students looking for affordable accommodation with healthy independent seniors who are looking for more than just rental income. The end result is transformative for both groups. The often lonely living situation that many seniors find themselves in is positively impacted by the addition of the student renter who provides a degree of companionship, conversation and even learning opportunities. Likewise, the student, who is often away from their home for the first time and may have limited family or friends in the area, is provided a rental situation that is more of a “home-like” environment and to some degree can mimic living with parents or even grandparents.
Both parties go through a rigorous interview process that includes background and criminal record checks. The two parties must also agree to a variety of criteria that includes spending time together, cooking and having meals with each other and in general finding and creating opportunities to socialize. In addition, each party identifies their “value add”, or in other words, a list of skills they could teach to the other person that they believe may be useful. This could range from the senior assisting the student with budgeting, writing resumes or even learning to sew/mend clothing while the student might assist the senior with scanning and organizing photos online, helping them set up online grocery shopping and delivery or even get them up and running on a “Google Home or Alexa System”. Whatever those skills maybe each must look for ways to provide personal learning / growth to the other.
Not only is the program getting a tremendous amount of interest but not surprisingly the students have actually indicated that as opposed to wanting deep rental discounts, which was originally one of the intended goals of the program, they are actually willing to pay more to participate.
IGen is in its infancy but all indications are that it will be a tremendous success. While the pilot program is limited to pairing up college/university students with seniors who are or were professionals, in time, the owner/developer has indicated they have plans to continue to grow the program beyond its current target markets.
This is truly the kind of ‘out of the box” thinking that we need be looking at and supporting as we work to overcome the serious accommodation challenges our tourism industry is facing for our employees around the region. I encourage you to check out the Happipad website and IGen program; perhaps the next iteration of this App could be young tourism employees finding themselves living with seniors who have or are still working in the industry; sharing, mentoring and ultimately building a more robust tourism and hospitality industry that really takes care of its own.
One final note….
It would seem nearly impossible not to make a comment on the events that took place last week between BC and Alberta. We are neighbors, allies and trading partners. There is much at stake and much to be lost in continuing down the current path and as one speaker so aptly commented: “the most unfortunate issue is the collateral damage to innocent business owners”. We encourage communication, cooperation, and a conscious effort to find workable solutions.
A Few Highlights from this Week’s News Centre…
I hope you are enjoying this Family Day Monday, hitting the slopes or out enjoying other regional activities and then following our Canadian Athletes at the Winter Olympics… Go Canada Go! I wanted to take this time to remind you to register for the upcoming Tourism Industry Conference (TIABC) taking place March 7th – 9th in Kelowna (read more). It is always an important industry event and when it is in our region it makes it even easier to attend. Some days it doesn’t feel like it but “Summer is Coming” and if you are looking to hire for the upcoming busy season Register Now for the ATBC and TOTA Tourism Job Fair, taking place March 15th at the Holiday Inn Express in Kelowna. This recruitment event is open to the public and should be an excellent opportunity to fill much-needed positions with local and regional talent. To find out more go to (read more).
Read all of this week’s News Centre stories at news.totabc.org
Keep following and contributing to TOTA’s Facebook and Twitter sites throughout the week; send us your stories, photos, events and remarkable experiences. Make sure the industry knows what is happening around our region. Be sure to use #route97 and #explorebc when posting your tourism shots and stories.