Press Room - Profile: Beth Kelly Hatt, Founder
Beth Kelly Hatt established 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, at which point Beth stopped working as a sales person for a local hotel and began operating Aquila full-time. 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), and one of the Top 50 CEO’s in Atlantic Canada (Atlantic Business Magazine, 2002).
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 of employees, 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 Kelly 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 is on the Management Board of Motorcoach Canada, and has held positions on committees with the National Tour Association. She was a Director of the Saint John Board of Trade and continues to sit on the Board of Enterprise Saint John. She also sits on the University of New Brunswick Saint John’s (UNBSJ) Advisory Committee and is 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 is currently the founding chairperson of the Bay of Fundy Cruise Partnership. 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 took the Hopewell Rocks Tidal Discovery Tour led by Sue Crawford. We had no idea what a treat we were in for. The ride out to the rocks was over two hours, but the time flew by as Sue pointed out all of the highlights and history of the area. She was well informed, enthusiastic and engaging. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her. We were fortunate to arrive at the rocks at low tide and had an excellent experience as Ranger Rick explained the phenomena of the 40 foot rise and fall of the tide as well as what we were looking at on the ocean floor. This experience was by far the highlight of our vacation.
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
Thank you for your hard work. ... last week we had some of the highest sales of any Carnival ship (1,861 tickets sold) without a single negative comment. You guys are doing a great job and it is a pleasure working with you.
Adam McEwan, Shore Excursion Manager, Carnival Victory
On Aquila’s role as tour operator for Carnival’s shore excursions in Saint John
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