Press Room - Profile: Beth Kelly Hatt, Founder
Beth Kelly Hatt founded Aquila Tours in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1982 as a seasonal company offering city tours to visitors. The company grew quickly, and in just five years it required full-time management. Aquila joined the National Tour Association in 1988, and Beth was the first from Atlantic Canada to receive her Certified Tour Professional (CTP) designation in 1991 from the National Tour Association. That same year, Beth received the region’s Women Entrepreneurship Award, and in the years that have followed, Beth has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades, including being named one of 25 People to Watch in Atlantic Canada (Progress Magazine, 2006), one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada (Woman’s Executive Network and the Richard Ivey School of Business, 2003), an Atlantic Region Finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2002), one of the Top 50 CEO’s in Atlantic Canada (Atlantic Business Magazine, 2002), was RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur's Trailblazer Finalist for Atlantic Canada (2016), and received the "Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All” award at the Annual Women Economic Forum in New Delhi, India on May 8, 2017.
Beth says she learned the Travel Business through the school of hard knocks, and through mentors in the industry, reading, workshops, and seminars through the National Tour Association. Her parents were entrepreneurs, and at the young age of 11, she became an entrepreneur herself, opening a small canteen for the summer, an enterprise which her parents continued and eventually became the village grocery store. Beth refers to herself as a human sponge, absorbing information from books on a range of topics from management and business to motivational and personal development. It is this thirst and passion for learning that has helped her grow as a leader and a mentor.
Beth believes that Aquila’s success is due to her greatest asset, her team, the people she calls her work family. Aquila has been managed on the “team” approach and it has worked. Everyone is involved in company decisions, from growth strategies to budgets, and this has allowed Aquila to climb mountains that could never have been surmounted had it not been for the belief that “together we can accomplish anything”. The work environment and culture established at Aquila is a rare and powerful experience. If managers operate on the physical or material resources of an organization and leaders operate on the spiritual side, Beth is a true leader, as she has taken hold of the organization by its very soul. Much of her time is spent on mentoring, coaching and succession planning to develop people as leaders, and she is an intuitive teacher with the goal being the team’s advancement, not solely hers. Her blend of compassion, confidence, pride and vision is shared with the team daily. She loves her work and her life, and that is contagious.
In addition to her leadership role with Aquila, Beth is a leader in the tourism industry and business community. She was a Director of the Saint John Board of Trade and was on the Board of Enterprise Saint John for eight years. She also sat on the University of New Brunswick Saint John’s (UNBSJ) Advisory Committee and was a volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She was the founding chairperson of Avantage Saint John Advantage, an organization whose strategies are directed to communicate the economic benefits and necessity of supporting a healthy, culturally enriching environment for our growing bilingual population, and she was the founding chairperson of the Bay of Fundy Cruise Partnership. She is the chair of the Fort La Tour Development Authority overseeing the construction of Place Fort La Tour, a new interpretive attraction on Saint John's Harbour Passage. An active and innovative visionary, Beth is frequently requested to share her strategies for success as a speaker at events within the tourism industry and business community.
We thoroughly enjoyed Fay and the driver. She made you feel like you had been friends forever and tried really hard to get us to the Reversing Rapids at the right time, although nature didn't cooperate. We enjoyed the light meal at lunch and the opportunity for a little bit of shopping in St. Martin. Would enjoy doing this one again.
Paula Meier Veazie
Our tour guide, Bonnie, was the best tour guide we have ever had on a Princess Cruise shore tour. Our shore excursion was Tuesday Sept. 29th and she provided us with the most insightful experience on the people, the culture, the history and the sights of Saint John, New Brunswick. We really appreciate the job well done by Bonnie.
Joseph S. Kramer
Prior to this tour, I already had high expectations of Aquila … I don’t know HOW you did it - but you DID IT! You exceeded even my high expectations! Bravo to the whole team! Many, many thanks to you and your company for this extraordinary adventure.
Rose Poirier, New Brunswick Museum
On a Saint John Tour Program Aquila delivered for the New Brunswick Museum
My family of 6 with 4 kids ages 6-11 took the Top 10 Tour of Saint John and the Bay of Fundy. Rennie was our guide and Les was our driver. Our day was outstanding. We saw it all and learned a lot. Beautiful sites and fun trivia and activities from Rennie. Not one complaint from any of the children on this 6.5 hour tour=2 thumbs up!!!