Experiential Tourism Spotlight

Jennifer Garland
The Mane Intent Inc.
Indian River, ON.

Inspiring Transformation and Unforgettable Journeys with Equine-Inspired Wellness 

Every business evolves and takes shape over time. RTO8’s professional network and programming has fundamentally influenced the evolution of The Mane Intent Inc.  At our century farm in Indian River, we offer strength-based, trauma-informed equine-inspired wellness workshops and individual sessions. For clients of all ages, our offering invites a transformational journey of healing, personal growth and renewal supported by qualified professionals and a gentle herd of horse guides.

In 2017, three years after launching The Mane Intent Inc., I accepted an invitation to participate in RTO 8’s Ignite with close to 20 other tourism operators and experience providers from Northumberland-Kawarthas. This Experiential Tourism professional development and networking opportunity was presented by The Tourism Café in partnership with Northern Edge Algonquin. Within the small town of South River, we visited a variety of inspiring community stages, had a peek behind the scenes of business operators, discovered the stories of the region, and most importantly, met a mosaic of fascinating people who agreed to share their time and expertise with us.

I walked away from this immersive weekend inspired by the story tellers and with renewed recognition that life is much richer when we share it with others. I also appreciated the opportunity to expand my network of potential tourism partners and others who shared an interest in building a competitive tourism destination that highlights the unique attributes of this area, while demonstrating leadership in product and experiential development.

Feeling encouraged, I followed up by applying for and receiving RTO8 funding available through the Tourism Partner Program to benefit from experiential tourism development coaching from the fabulous Nancy Arsenault of The Tourism Café. Nancy is a dynamic woman with extensive background in tourism development and the opportunity to work one-on-one with her was truly a gift. She invited me to ‘rediscover’ The Mane Intent from the perspective of a potential guest and program participant. Using appreciative inquiry, Nancy encouraged me to look at the best of what is, dream about what could be, develop what might be, and ultimately develop a series of equine-inspired wellness experiences that reflect what can be. She asked the tough questions and she expected results. Armed with her advice and guidance, we ‘rebranded’ our equine-inspired wellness offerings, refined our story and ultimately relaunched our web site later that year.

As well, with Nancy’s encouragement, we hosted an event for tourism partners and operators to share our offering with others. We were thrilled when Kelly Jessop, Marketing Officer, Peterborough Economic Development and Tourism later tweeted: “I’ve had some pretty incredible experiences in my life as part of my job telling the @ptbotourism and @PtboEcDev story to the world. Today tops the list. The Mane Intent is a must experience worth personally having and sharing. It was an incredibly authentic, deeply personal experience. I learned as much about myself as I did about the horses.”

Tapped into tourism trends, Nancy also introduced us to the emerging field of transformation travel. As she noted at RTO8’s 2018 annual meeting, it’s “travel motivated and defined by a shift in perspective, self-reflection and development, and a deeper communion with nature and culture.” That’s the kind of travel experience that The Mane Intent strives to deliver and we were grateful for the opportunity to share our story as a provider of experiences that can be transformational as part of her presentation. For more information about The Mane Intent and our equine-inspired wellness offerings – go to www.themaneintent.ca

Written by Jennifer Garland