2016 Red Deer Experience Awards winners: (front row, left to right) Karen Martin, Black Knight Inn; Danielle Fortin, Pursuit Adventures; Kayla Smith, Red Deer Airport; Breanna LaJeunesse, Holiday Day Inn South; Lisa LeBlanc, Best Western; Jennifer Pratt, Best Western (back row): Belinda Ducholke, Discovery Wild Life Park; Doug Bos, Discovery Wild Life Park; Deb Bos, Discovery Wild Life Park; Graham Ingham, Red Deer Airport; Sherie Luxton, Best Western; Alex Chariatis, Mohave Smokehouse & Bar; Tony Sieweke, Mohave Smokehouse & Bar (Photo contributed)

Red Deer tourism awards handed out to individuals, businesses

All about outstanding service or great tourism experience

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

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