OPERATING YOUR BUSINESS
Operating your business involves the day-to-day functions as well as the “big picture” issues such as licensing, insurance and taxes. This section will deal with:
Safety and security
Insurance and taxes
Licences, permits, memberships
1. SAFETY AND SECURITY
Around the world, Canada has a reputation for being a safe and secure destination. Many international tourists chose to vacation in our country because they feel safe from violence, crime, and terrorism. It is something that many Canadians, vacationing in our own homeland, take for granted.
All guests on vacation assume that your operation is safe and secure. Safety and security is something that they buy without even thinking about. You, however, must be concerned with the safety and security of your guests.
Safety involves the protection of people and property from injury and damage. Most accidents are caused by careless guests and employees. To insure that your operation is a safe place for guests, consider the following:
Install safety signs to warn of hazards. For example post hot tub temperatures, dangerous swimming areas, operating pump house equipment, etc.
Have fire extinguishers available where there are open flames (kitchens, fireplaces, etc.)
Make sure that your roads and boat launching ramps are in good repair and have adequate signage.
Insure that your docks, decks and patios are non-slip
Make sure that playground equipment is installed properly and in good repair. General playground safety information can be found at:
Pools and hot tubs must meet the public health standards. Check out the following websites for more information:
Pools - Legislation:
General Pool Information (based on the legislation):
Hot Tubs (Spas) Legislation:
In the Client Services section, under comfort and safety, there are many more examples of making your operation a safer place.
Security refers to the freedom from fear and anxiety. Again, it is up to you to insure that your guest feel secure. Guests and their property should be protected from potential harm and damage. Here are a few ways to make your guests feel secure at your operation:
control access to your establishment (speed bumps, limited public access, etc.)
public pay phone available with list of emergency numbers
good indirect lighting at the office
protect guest privacy by asking visitors to meet guests at a central location (get visitors to check in)
employees should be aware of who the guests are at all times and report non-guests to management
employees must report suspicious activities
have a “lost and found” (it is a nice touch to send an item back to a guest if they have left it while on their vacation)
Guests have a right to privacy and a right to enjoy their vacation without disturbances. If you have “quiet hours”, they should be posted. On occasion you may have to deal with some disturbances. Usually rowdy guests just need a reminder to mind their behaviour for the greater good of all guests. If the situation continues, remain calm but firmly ask the guests to tone it down (you can evict non-guests). If a guest is intoxicated, return them to their room or cabin. If the disturbance continues or gets out of control, you may have to call the police.
If your operation is in a remote location, you should have a plan of action in place to deal with guest disturbances. Employees should be familiar with this plan of action as part of their training.
If you do end up evicting a guest, or guests, it is best that you do it with police assistance. Remember, that the guest is paying for your services and may file a damage suit if you do not have a good reason for evicting them from your operation.
In the case of fire, all guests should leave the burning building. Employees should assist the guests and make them comfortable. Only trained fire fighters should tackle the blaze. If possible use municipal, volunteer, or MNR fire-fighters.
If you own a remote operation you need to have a fire-fighting plan of action. You and your employees should have some basic fire-fighting training and you should have a functioning pump and hose system available to fight a fire. Your insurance company is your best source of a fire safety plan and may request proof that you have sufficient fire-fighting equipment on site.
Injury or Death:
In case of guest injury, you and your employees should provide first aid. It is essential that you and your employees have up-to-date first aid training and CPR. Have emergency numbers available by every phone. See the Client Services section for more information about first aid training and emergencies.
In case of a guest death, the body should remain where found and covered. If the body is found in a room or cabin, the curtains should be drawn and the door should be locked. Notify the police and paramedics. DO NOT talk to other staff or guests about the death until after the authorities have investigated the incident. Make sure that you are able to comfort the guest’s relatives and friends, consider moving them elsewhere. You may want to send the bill to the guests at a later time, perhaps after a thoughtful phone call.
2. INSURANCE AND TAXES
Following death, insurance and taxes are probably the Outfitter’s two most feared words!
You need insurance. Insurance protects you from losses, damage, and suits. Your insurance coverage has to be carefully planned since no two operations will have the same type of insurance. Each operation is unique and has its own particular set of circumstances. Your insurance agent and company must create a policy for your operation and understand insurance as it pertains to the tourism industry.
Insurance coverage is very complicated. Many types of insurance are either mandatory or something that you should seriously consider: Listed are some common types of insurance used by tourism operations:
Liability insurance protects you, your employees and your business from claims from your guests that include bodily harm and property damage.
Property insurance protects the physical aspects of your operation. The most common type of property insurance is fire insurance. Other property insurance involves coverage for smoke damage, wind storms and other weather events, plumbing problems, water damage, electrical problems, heating problems, etc. You may also consider getting business interruption insurance which will cover your costs, salaries, and debt if your operation was closed due to property damage.
Vehicle insurance is mandatory. Ask for a commercial premium which will cover business use.
Personal disability insurance will provide you with a monthly benefit if you are injured or permanently disabled. Your employees will be covered under worker’s compensation insurance (see Employment Issues section).
Business loan insurance is usually offered by the bank when you are negotiating your business loan. This insurance will cover your entire loan if you die before it is paid back. Be sure to ask your own insurance company about this type of insurance. They may give you a better rate than the bank.
insure the things that are most at risk
read your insurance policy carefully and, at renewal time, re-evaluate your insurance policy to make sure that current items are covered and items that you no longer have are deleted
try to reduce the cost of your insurance by negotiating for lower premiums, getting higher deductibles
remember to shop around for insurance and get at least three quotes
if you trust your insurance company, use them for all your insurance needs to get the best possible price
(from 2006 NOTO convention speaker), start a fund (built into guest rates) approved by the insurer, to cover certain damages (boat and motor, and other equipment damage)
if you are a member of NOTO (Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario) you are eligible for insurance discounts, check out http://noto.ca/outfitter_membership
Making a Claim:
The first time you make a claim is really when you learn all about your insurance policy and coverage. As soon as something happens, contact your insurance company. Write down all of the particulars of the situation and have receipts on file. If property is damaged, lost or stolen you maybe required to produce this evidence. Your insurance company wants your business up and running but they also want to make sure that your guests are protected from any further problems or damage.
Depending on the type of claim, payment may be quick or, if the insurance company needs to investigate the problem, the payment may be slow in coming. If you do expect a large payment, an advanced partial payment may be arranged.
As a business owner you have a number of different types of taxes to contend with. For general information regarding business taxes in Ontario visit http://www.rev.gov.on.ca/en/guides/smallbusiness.html
Listed are the basic tax types encountered by tourism operators. The tax information that is presented is brief and general in nature. For more information about taxes and your particular operation talk to your accountant or book keeper.
Property Tax - Taxes paid to the municipal and/or provincial government. The value of your land and buildings are assessed, classified and given a monetary number. A mill rate is then applied to the assessed value of your property and your property taxes are determined.
You can appeal your assessment if you believe that the assessment is inaccurate. There is a small window of opportunity for a reassessment. In many cases, you must pay the full taxes for the current year and then get reassessed for the following year.
Corporations Tax - Are business operating taxes paid to the provincial government. For more information talk to your accountant and check out this website:
Employer Health Tax - Is a provincial payroll tax (payable by employers) on remuneration paid to employees. If your payroll is $400.00 a year or less you are exempt from paying this tax. For more information go to:
Retail Sales Tax (RST) - The retail sales tax is an 8% provincial tax applied to all items sold by your business. There is no minimum amount and you must apply for a Vendor permit if you sell taxable goods . For more information go to:
Goods and Services Tax (GST) - Is a federal sales tax applied to all goods and services in Canada. It is paid by the customer but collected by you if your business has gross annual sales of over $30,000. The GST is calculated at 5% of the cost of goods and services.
Each business has a registered GST number. Your business collects the tax but is eligible for tax credits before submitting it to the government. For more information go to:
International guests may be eligible for a partial GST refund. For more information on this refund go to:
Payroll Taxes - As an employer you must deduct federal Income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) premiums and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums from your employees wages. As an employer, you must also pay part of their CPP and EI premiums. For more information go to the following website:
3. LICENCES, PERMITS, MEMBERSHIP IN ASSOCIATIONS
To operate a business in Ontario there are many different types of licences and permits that you must acquire, depending on the type of operation that you run. Listed are some of the permits that may pertain to your particular operation:
Business licence - imposed by a municipality or organized township
Vendor permit, for collecting RST - (provincial)
Liquor licence - (provincial)
Membership in various associations is usually voluntary. There are some general associations that do represent large sections of the tourism industry:
NOTO - The Voice of Nature and Outdoor Tourism in Ontario
Ontario Accommodation Association
Local Chamber of Commerce
Regional Travel Association
Affiliation with specific organizations is usually based on the types of activities that you and your operation are involved in. Membership in these organizations can improve your exposure in a niche market. Listed are some activity-specific associations:
Paddling Ontario Alliance
Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs
Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
Ontario Marine Operators Association
Ontario Cycling Association
Partners in Eco-Adventure Tourism
Messages from NOTO
Speaking for the Industry, from The Outfitter, by Doug Reynolds, Winter 2009
Health and Safety
Cold Water Boot Camp, from The Outfitter, by Ted Rankine, Winter 2008
Important Notice:Propane and Gas-Fired Unvented Servel Refrigerators, Built Between 1933 and 1957, from The Outfitter, Spring 2006
Recreation and Hydroelectric Stations Don’t Mix Says Ontario Utility, from The Outfitter, Spring 2004
Uncertain Economic Times: Can You Afford to Invest in Health and Safety?, from The Outfitter, Sept/Oct 2003
Carbon Monoxide Warning – Death in Just One Breath?, from The Outfitter, by Jeffery Butler, May/June 2003
West Nile Virus, from The Outfitter, by Laurie Marcil, May/June 2003
First Aid Training is Necessary, from The Outfitter, Fall 2001
Does your business require a JHSC?, from The Outfitter, by Jim Antler, July/Aug 2000
Gas BBQ Safety, July/Aug 1998 Fuels Safety First, from The Outfitter, May/June 1998
Protect You and Your Guests From the Following Bacteria, from The Outfitter, May/June 1998
The Silent Killer: Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, from The Outfitter, by Jim Grayston, May/ June 1996
What You Should Know About The Gasoline Handling Act, from The Outfitter, by John Walters, July/Aug 1995
Childproofing Your Camp, from The Outfitter, by Carol Wisneski, Jan/Feb 1992
Coroner’s Inquest Makes Recommendations Regarding Boater Safety, from The Outfitter, Nov 1991
Are You Prepared For An Emergency?, from The Outfitter, by Bob McKercher, May 1989
Know Your Air Carrier, from The Outfitter, by John Grieve, July 1988
Is Your Operation Prepared for a Wildfire?, from The Outfitter, Fall 2009
Campfire Safety, from The Outfitter, Spring 2009
Are You Thinking About Fire Safety?, from The Outfitter, by Ryan Betts, Spring 2009
NOTO Involvement Central to Forest Fire Management, from The Outfitter, Winter 2008
Is Your Operation FireSmart?, Doug Reynolds, Fall 2008
Wildfire Management Strengthened By New Agreement, from The Outfitter, Spring 2008
FireSmart Prevention Program, from The Outfitter, Winter 2007
Sprinklers Can Save Your Property, from The Outfitter, by Mitch Miller, Sept/Oct 2003
Protect Your Business Promote Campfire Safety, from The Outfitter, July 1990
Keeping Your Insurer Informed, from The Outfitter, by Laurie Walsh, Fall 2006
Sharing the Risk with Your Insurance Company, from The Outfitter, by Myron Romaniuk, Summer/Fall 2005
Protecting Your Most Important Assets, from The Outfitter, by The Superior Group, Spring 2005
Risk Management, from The Outfitter, by Debbie Sauvé, May/June 2003
Decisions! Decisions! Buying Life Insurance, from The Outfitter, by John Wesley, Jan 1993
Your Silent Business Partner, from The Outfitter, by John Wesley, August 1992
Insurance, from The Outfitter, by Robert Merkel, November 1990
Buy Proper Insurance Coverage, from The Outfitter, Aug 1990
Insurance – Are You Covered?, from The Outfitter, by Phil Bettinson, May 1990
HST Transition Rules, from The Outfitter, Spring 2010
Visitor Rebate Confirmed Under the New HST, from The Outfitter, by Laurie Marcil, Spring 2010
HST Update, from The Outfitter, Winter 2009
NOTO’s Position on the New HST, from The Outfitter, Fall 2009
Harmonized Sales Tax Q & A, from The Outfitter, Spring 2009
Provincial Land Tax Reform, from The Outfitter, Fall 2008
Applying the GST Rebate At Source, from The Outfitter, Spring 2008
Does your package qualify for the GST rebate?, from The Outfitter, Spring 2008
The New GST Rebate Program: Make Certain Your Documentation is Clear, from The Outfitter, by Doug Reynolds, Winter 2007
Good News On the Revised GST Visitor Rebate Program, from The Outfitter, Fall 2007
Property Assessments for Provincial Land Tax, from The Outfitter, Fall 2007
NOTO Meets With MPAC Regarding Taxation, from The Outfitter, by Roger Liddle, Spring 2004
Gasoline Tax Refunds, from The Outfitter, by Doug Reynolds, May/June 2003
Don’t Let Your Children Inherit Your Taxes, from The Outfitter, by Marc Brazeau, May/June 1996
What To Do When The Tax Auditor Arrives, from The Outfitter, May/June 1996
Northern Ontario Heart-A-Tax, from The Outfitter, Jan/Feb 1992
GST Update, from The Outfitter, June 1991
The Outfitters’ Manual. NOTO. Circa 1985.
Lodging Operator’s Manual. BC Motels Campgrounds Resort Association. 1997.
OTEC. Outdoor Guide Training Manual: Franklin Field Services. 2000.