The 2016 Red Deer Experience Awards winners and finalists were honoured by Tourism Red Deer at a luncheon on Thursday.
The awards program allows consumers and businesses to share a photo, video or story demonstrating outstanding service or a great tourism experience they have encountered in Red Deer and Red Deer County.
Nominations are received online throughout the year and then reviewed by a panel of judges who select the finalists and ultimate winner in seven categories.
One of the winners was Red Deer Airport, which took home the Outstanding Business Social Media award for a campaign about the runway extension project.
Kayla Smith, director of airport development, communications and marketing for the airport, said the winning the award was a team effort.
The airport undertook an eight-month social media campaign around its runway extension project — using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — to explain it and show time-lapse video as it proceeded.
Smith said Tuesday that two-way engagement through social media allowed them to communicate the project to the public and their stakeholders about what it meant for the region, and why it was important.
“I’m just finding more and more businesses are utilizing social media as a tool to engage,” she said
Here is the full list of winners and finalists.
Outstanding Individuals – Accommodation:
Karen Martin, Black Knight Inn – winner
Kelsey Golka, Sandman Red Deer
Lisa LeBlanc, Best Western Plus Red Deer Inn & Suites
Outstanding Individuals – Tourism Activity:
Danielle Fortin, Pursuit Adventures – winner
Scott Barclay, Bower Ponds Recreation
Belinda Ducholke, Discovery Wildlife Park
Outstanding Individuals – Dining/Food:
Breanna LaJeunesse Holiday Inn & Suites South – Boulevard Restaurant – winner
Dawn Edgar Black Knight Inn
Kevin Traptow, Cool Beans
Outstanding Business – Accommodations:
Best Western Plus Red Deer Inn & Suites, Dawn Melling – winner
Baymont Inn & Suites and Conference Centre, Salim Bharwani
Holiday Inn & Suites Red Deer South, Shazma Charania
Outstanding Business – Tourism Activity:
Discovery Wildlife Park, Doug Bos – winner
Bower Ponds Recreation, Jonathan Strome
Pursuit Adventures, JP Fortin
Outstanding Business – Dining/Food:
Mohave Smokehouse & Bar, Alex Choriatis
Cuppitycakes Bakeshop, Sarah Thomas
Queen Bees Food Truck Cassandra Rathgebr / Carmen Harrison
Outstanding Business Performance – Social Media
Red Deer Airport, Kayla Smith
Bower Ponds Recreation, Jonathon Strome
Westerner Days, Shannon Penny