My first encounter with Greg Girard was a wave and a smile from his passing Jeep. He was on his way down Mount Revelstoke from a hike to Eva Lake; I was biking up.
Last weekend I sat down with Greg Girard and his business-partner brother Colin Girard to find out a little more about CanadaEh.net. The brothers just relocated to Revelstoke, bringing with them a combined 40 years of experience with their online adventure tourism website network, and general tourism industry experience.
Originally based on Vancouver Island, Colin saw the potential for a web tourism business in the mid 1990s, and started a regional tour site.
Greg joined his brother several years later, and since then they’ve built a national network of websites that network into the national site (like ehcanadatravel.com, bceh.com, kootenayseh.com, et cetera.)
Their network is used by primarily foreign travellers researching and planning vacations. Their main user countries are Germany, Japan, China as well as the U.S. and Canada.
The websites are advertising supported; Greg says they’ve got about 1,200 advertisers, including hotels, motels, B&Bs, campgrounds and tourism operators.
For the pair, adventure is a big part of the experience. They’ve got two Jeeps with trailers and have logged plenty of miles. “We wanted to go first hand and visit and research and write,” Greg said.
They’ve travelled to virtually all major parks from coast to coast, camping out and taking in the experiences themselves, assembling photos, stories and resources.
So, why the move to Revelstoke? The brothers see a lot of potential here, and they wanted to be a little more central as their web network increasingly expands eastward. They have a major design overhaul coming in the new year.
They’re still planning to expand their website network and keep it national. Both brothers say there will be some overlap in their promotional efforts; being located here will benefit Revelstoke.
For example, Greg’s already posted his story about that hike to Eva Lake.
They also hope to help contribute to local tourism efforts. “We’ve seen every tourism trick in the book across the country,” Greg said.
Our interview meanders into local tourism in general; like most tourism experts in town, they feel Revelstoke is missing out on a lot of passing motorists because there isn’t a good interface with the highway. Motorhomes or vehicles with trailers don’t have a great place to pull over, learn about the community and gather information. Even if you don’t catch them this trip, it’s a crucial first step to building multi-night stays in the future. But I digress.
For now, the brothers continue to work on their business, meet and greet. Most importantly, the Mount Washington locals are looking forward to the snowboarding season.