A Q&A with Jessica Burtnick, manager of marketing and communications for Frontiers North Adventures

A Q&A with Jessica Burtnick, manager of marketing and communications for Frontiers North Adventures

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A family-owned and operated company since 1987, Frontiers North Adventures has a long history of offering fascinating and immersive trips in Canada’s iconic northernmost regions.

Through trips to the subarctic community of Churchill, Manitoba, guests are able to dine beneath northern lights, sing alongside beluga whales and lock eyes with wild polar bears.

A certified B Corporation, Frontiers North Adventures is also a recognized leader in authentic and sustainable adventures, a focus that grows increasingly important with each passing day. As we all set our sights on the new year and what it holds in store for travelers, FTA sat down with Jessica Burtnick, of Frontiers North Adventures, to find out what we can expect from this fascinating tour operator and industry leading company.

 

FTA:
Please share with our members one or two of the Frontiers North tour offerings or opportunities for 2022 that you are most excited about 

JB:

Back in 2015 we introduced Conservation Journey: Polar Bears, a conservation-focused departure hosted with our partners at Polar Bears International. Since then, these trips have been very well received by our guests, so in 2022 we will launch our inaugural Conservation Journey: Belugas Whales trip. Our Conservation Journeys feature three very special experiences that distinguish them from our other adventures:

  • Conservation Journey: Beluga Whales is joined by scientist, Dr. Valeria Vergara. A leading beluga whale researcher and marine mammal scientist, Dr. Vergara has designed and conducted studies on beluga whales and other marine mammals for over 18 years, accomplishing the first-ever research to document how beluga calves develop the incredibly rich vocal range of this species.
  • Partial proceeds from our Conservation Journey trips go towards conservation organizations (such as Polar Bears International) in support of their programs and conservation efforts.
  • All Conservation Journey: Beluga Whales guests will be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Beluga Boat, a vessel documenting the daily goings-on of belugas in the Churchill River, equipped with above and below water cameras allowing viewers around the world to see the belugas up close via live stream.

The ultimate goal of our Conservation Journeys is for guests to experience the incredible wildlife of Canada’s North and inspire them, because there are easy, tangible steps we can each take in our daily lives to protect these vulnerable species and the habitats that are critical to their survival. Together, our actions can make a difference and ensure these animals are conserved for our children, and future generations to experience.

We are also very excited to introduce our brand Subarctic Discovery: Churchill Polar Bears trip, new for Autumn 2022! Travellers can now fly direct from Montréal, Québec, Canada! This means that the opportunity to experience Churchill’s polar bears is closer to families who are (or will be) in eastern Canada than EVER before!

In 2023, we will also launch two all-new trips for families – our exclusive Family Learning Adventure: Polar Bears and Family Learning Adventure: Beluga Whales! Our unique Family Learning Adventures are specially created for families who value the cultural teachings and unique bonding experiences that come with traveling together. Imagine exploring the wide-open tundra landscape with your family to witness one of the world’s most extraordinary animals in the wild – polar bears in autumn, or beluga whales in summer! A Family Learning Adventure is the best way to explore a different part of the world with your crew — centered on meaningful travel experiences, filled with adventure and valuable lessons sure to create memories that will last a lifetime. Healthy snacks and frequent bathroom stops are built in throughout the trip.

FTA:
How have the Frontiers North Adventures offerings been impacted (if at all) by COVID-19 and the regularly emerging variants? Have you had to make any changes to the way you operate? or to the way you market your travel experiences?

JB:
We had to do a lot of pivoting to keep up with changing travel and health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, as always, the safety and security of our guests and team members remained our top priority. So in 2020, we implemented mandatory masking, enhanced cleaning across our Churchill operations with an electrostatic sprayer, assigned and staggered seating, and our hotel staff became Clean It Right certified. Then in 2021, we introduced the requirement that all guests and staff be fully immunized with a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccination for at least two weeks prior to their scheduled departure. For more information about our COVID-19 policies and procedures, please
 click here

We also understand that travel plans change. That is why we launched our new True North Assurance policy. Our guests can book with confidence that their trip deposit is safe with us. The full amount of every initial deposit is eligible to remain on file for an unlimited time as a credit for future use. Every True North Deposit is also 100% transferable and there are no change fees. Transfers may be made to a different Frontiers North departure, a future year, or even a different traveller. 

 

FTA:
Your business is built around adventures to Canada’s North and also around iconic wildlife such as polar bears and whales, how have these things been impacted by climate change? Have your itineraries had to adapt in any way to climate change? or to traveler’s evolving interests?

JB:
Frontiers North Adventures is family-owned and operated, and has been that way since its inception in 1987. We are an internationally recognized leader in authentic and sustainable adventures in Canada’s North, and in 2020, we became a certified B Corporation®. We consider it our responsibility to share in the stewardship of the resources made available to us, and conduct our business in a safe and sustainable manner. We work hard to benefit our guests and employees, the ecosystems and communities in which we operate, and passionately share those values with our guests… just as many of our guests have shared those same values with us.

We understand the importance of conserving the sensitive areas where we operate for the enjoyment of future generations, so that is why we continue to strive to take our commitment to sustainability to the next level. In fact, last month we converted one of our diesel-powered Tundra Buggies to battery-electric – the world’s first Electric Vehicle Tundra Buggy® (EV Tundra Buggy)! This will allow us to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an estimated 8.33 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, and offer our guests (and wildlife) a silent touring experience. You can read more about it here:https://blog.frontiersnorth.com/ev-olving-our-fleet-new-electric-vehicle-tundra-buggy

We also recognize that families missed out on travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Traveling is such an important opportunity for families to bond, learn about the world together and create lifelong memories. So this also informed our decision to create a new series of “Family Learning Adventures” which are very excited to be launching in 2023!

FTA:
What do you see on the horizon, for 2022 and beyond, as the most important responsibility of those in the travel industry who offer immersive nature and wildlife travel experiences like Frontiers North?

JB:
It’s our responsibility to share in the stewardship of the ecosystems and communities in which we operate, and ensure that future generations will also have access to these places in the future.

 

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