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.
Aquila is one of the best tour operators that we work with anywhere in the world, and they are excellent models to which other tour operators can aspire.
Amilcar Cascais, Vice President of Tour Operations
Carnival Cruise Lines
Outstanding trip with Bev to Granite Town Farms, St. George, New Brunswick for a great wild blueberry education and tasting of many delicious goodies. If you can't make it there - but want to have tasty and unique gifts - you can't go wrong with their blueberry/lime salsa or their blueberry vinaigrette. Stock up! Google Granite Town Farms for more info. Bev made the entire trip educational and fun. Highly recommend this excursion.
My tour of Saint John, Bay of Fundy, and seeing the Reversing Rapids was topped only by the wonderful Bonnie, our guide. She was a delightful informant, entertainer, and rescuer. (I forgot to watch my clock at Market, and she zipped in, snagged me, and we ran back to the bus... whew, did not miss my ship!) Thanks so much Bonnie, it was a blessing having you as our leader that day.
Marilyn Long Roberts
We were on a great tour of the Bay of Fundy. Our tour guide, Paula, was the best. If you’re on her tour, you will have the best time
Joanne Favella Brown