Who We Are

BAN-NI-KIN (noun)

1. Slang. Small tin cup.
2. Niche travel and tourism group enhancing the business of small operators, emerging destinations and hotel properties.

Small cup. Big ideas.

Bannikin is a Toronto and Hong Kong-based travel and tourism consultancy dedicated to enhancing the businesses of niche-focused tour operators, destinations and lodging providers worldwide. We define ‘niche’ as unique and experiential travel, ranging from active and outdoor adventure to culinary and cultural experiences.

Our clients appreciate that we solve their problem of limited resources such as time, money, sales networks, etc. by providing tourism-specific, highly specialized support in four key areas: Media Relations, Trade Representation, Marketing and Experience Design & Destination Development. We act as your in-house team, working with you to reach your business goals. The benefit to you? Having your product development, marketing, B2B sales, and media relations needs handled by one sharp company.

With our first-hand knowledge of both the experiential North American and Asian markets, we can secure and nurture relationships between you and tour operators, design jaw-dropping press trips, create killer website content, build your social media network, market your business at trade shows and industry events, create evergreen sustainable tourism plans and policy – and the list goes on.

Bannikin was built on our great respect for travel-minded visionaries who provide the utmost experiences in the wildest parts of the planet. In a worn-out, dog-eared copy of the Newfoundland dictionary somewhere, you would discover that Bannikin simply means ‘small tin cup.’ But to us, it represents experiencing travel in a real way, with a local perspective. With our combined 50+ years of experience, Bannikin knows what needs to come together to turn a travel company into the travel company, and a place into a destination.

Learn more about what we do!

  • Jillian DickensJillian DickensDIRECTOR

    Jillian Dickens


    B-Journ, Langara College, Vancouver, 2001

    Jillian Dickens is a specialty destination development and media relations professional with more than 12 years’ experience working with experiential tourism brands and emerging destinations. As Bannikin Director, Jillian leads the Media Relations and Marketing departments and co-leads the Destination Development department, managing clients including Exodus Travels, Tourism New Brunswick and Adventure Canada.

    Under her watch, Bannikin’s clients have enjoyed huge success, both in new travel trade relationships won and consistent feature coverage in Canada’s top newspapers and magazines. Recent trade successes include landing new partnerships with REI Adventures, Wilderness Travel and Adventures Abroad, ultimately securing legacy business that will generate revenue and arrivals for decades to come. Recent media wins include the New York Times, L.A. Times and Globe and Mail, each ultimately securing direct bookings and arrivals for her clients.

    Jillian is gifted at identifying untapped markets and market segments, and converting these into arrivals and sales. Prior to Bannikin, Jillian headed-up the global tour operator sales and media relations departments for a multi-country cruise line specializing in Aboriginal culture and Arctic explorations. Here she opened the company’s trade links up to the new markets of South Korea, China, Japan and Australia, resulting in a 20% increase in arrival numbers year after year.

    In the mid-2000s Jillian was Marketing and Communications Manager for the DMO Nunavut Tourism. Here she increased global media exposure by 30% through smart media relations strategy, and crafting ahead of the curve story ideas. She helped overcome the organization’s relationship challenges with the local government through headline grabbing projects and events including the Four Hosts First Nations Olympic Summit and cultural events and concerts enhancing community pride. The result was public and government recognition of the DMOs unparalleled value to their economy.

    Prior to her career in tourism, Jillian was a newspaper journalist, reporting on issues ranging from politics and the economy to crime and entertainment. She continues to do freelance travel writing for Canada’s top travel outlets, including enRoute, the Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star, Canada’s most widely read publication.

    Board Positions:

    Women In Travel, Current Committee Member

    Want to get in touch with Jillian? Email: jillian@bannikin.com

  • Shannon GuihanShannon GuihanDIRECTOR

    Shannon Guihan


    Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK, MSc Tourism & Environmental Management, 2004
    Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada, Bachelor of Recreation Management, 2001

    A tourism development expert, Shannon has more than 15 years of international experience working at multiple levels of tourism development and delivery. As Bannikin Director, Shannon leads the Trade Representation department and co-leads the Destination Development department, managing clients including The TreadRight Foundation and Ontario’s SouthWest.

    Shannon’s clients have benefited from her guidance and in-depth knowledge of both niche and large-scale tourism models. Recent client successes include the development and implementation of strategic trade relations strategies, resulting in legacy partnerships, and increased, consistent revenue. With extensive product development experience, and a strong focus on sustainable tourism, Shannon is often called on to craft destination experiences targeted at the Canadian, US and UK markets.

    As a former guide and Operations Manager for several up-scale tour operators, Shannon started her career as a sea kayak guide in Newfoundland. Shannon has developed product and managed operations in countries including Iceland, Greenland, China, Peru, Canada and the US.

    Prior to starting Bannikin, Shannon was brought on by Roadtrips Inc., to lead MF&T, a division of Roadtrips, in partnership with Michelin North America. This role saw Shannon identify ground operators and develop culinary tour product in Italy, France, Spain and parts of the US that featured Michelin Red Guide Chefs, their establishments and highlighted local suppliers and other culinary features of a particular destination.

    Client engagements see Shannon frequently called on as a World Travel & Tourism Council small committee member, and heavily engaged with organisations including the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, The Travel Foundation and Tourism Cares on the issue of sustainable tourism development. Her end goal is to always build smart destinations and businesses that recognise sustainability and how it impacts their intended market.

    Shannon holds an MSC in Tourism and Environmental Management, where she focused on integrating the principals of sustainability into tourism businesses and destination development work. Her undergraduate degree in Recreation Management focused on outdoor activities as they integrate with the community and local businesses.

    Board Positions
    Transportation Options Ontario (Cycle Tourism Development), Past Board Member
    Sustainable Travel International – Canada, Past Board Member

    Want to get in touch with Shannon? Email: shannon@bannikin.com

  • Natasha MartinNatasha MartinMANAGING DIRECTOR - ASIA

    Natasha Martin


    Concordia University - BA Honors in African History
    Master of Tourism Administration - George Washington University

    Natasha is a senior marketing consultant with a decade of experience in the adventure tourism sector. She has worked for destinations, associations and tourism companies around the world from Greenland to Namibia, to help create inspiration at each stage of the customer journey – and ensure that tourism development supports environmental conservation, cultural heritage preservation and enhances the lives of local residents.

    As the Managing Director – Asia, Natasha leads Bannikin’s outreach to the adventure trade and consumers in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China, helping our clients reach new, high-value markets from the biggest tourist emitting countries in the world.

    Prior to joining Bannikin, Natasha worked in development consulting on projects for donors such as the World Bank, Millennium Challenge Account, the Office of the Quartet, DFID and USAID, as well as directly for national and regional governments including Myanmar, Peru, India and industry associations.

    She is an AdventureEDU educator, and frequently lectures on the topic of social media for tourism. She has delivered marketing workshops in Namibia, Myanmar, Peru, Ethiopia and Uganda on tourism marketing.

    Before entering the world of adventure tourism, Natasha was an English Teacher in Japan, an assistant to a Canadian senator and an intern at OCHA in Nairobi.

    Natasha speaks English, French and Spanish and is based in Hong Kong.

    Want to get in touch with Natasha? Email: natasha@bannikin.com


    Zach Vanasse


    Bachelor of Arts, Professional Writing & Translation, Université de Sherbrooke, 2008

    Zach Vanasse is a bilingual (English and French) marketing and media relations specialist with experience working on both sides of the media table. As a former consumer travel and travel trade journalist and editor for print and digital publications, he has an insider’s knowledge of the North American travel industry and its leaders having collaborated with a diverse array of trade partners across multiple spheres.

    Before joining Bannikin as an Account Manager, he served as an editor with PAX News and PAX Magazine where he worked with industry leaders and innovators, gaining deep insight into the inner workings of the North American travel trade. As a journalist he developed personal relationships with many of the travel industry’s thought leaders, directors and industry influencers. He was also deeply engaged with the travel agent community, covering the vast majority of travel agent focused events and conferences both at home and abroad, in the interest of maintaining a consistent and constant finger on the pulse of the industry. In his role as editor, he has collaborated with a variety of industry organizations ranging from tourism boards to tour operators.

    In his time at Bannikin he has worked with sustainability organizations around the world, helping clients develop give-back programs, create green initiatives, garner recognition for industry leading performances, and develop sustainability partnerships.

    He also serves as a founding board member of the Young Travel Professionals – Toronto chapter, a role that has seen him speak at a variety of industry conferences, such as TravelMarket Reports’ Travel MarketPlace Toronto.

    Want to get in touch with Zach? Email: zach@bannikin.com

  • Terrilyn KunopaskiTerrilyn KunopaskiACCOUNT MANAGER, TRADE DEVELOPMENT

    Terrilyn Kunopaski


    Bachelor of Journalism, Ryerson University

    Terrilyn is a seasoned travel industry professional, with nearly 10 years’ experience building partnerships with travel trade.

    She kicked-off her career with a B2B-facing travel media platform, where she developed a deep knowledge of the industry – understanding the various facets, establishing key relationships and evolving the publication to become one of the most-read in the Canadian marketplace.

    She was most recently the editor-in-chief of Canadian Traveller (B2C) and CT magazines (B2B). During her tenure, she worked on brand & business development and content strategy, laying the path to record-sales success. She was part of the team to launch Canada’s first travel-focused subscription box, Experience The World, and also helped spearhead the launch of the innovative B2B platform, Key Notes On Travel.

    Terrilyn has been a contributing travel expert to various major television and radio programs in Canada, and continues to be called upon for her expertise.

    In October 2018, she was an event organizer for “Let’s Get Uncomfortable: Discussing Gender Equity and Equality in Canada’s Travel Industry” and she continues to advocate for greater diversity and equality in tourism.

    Want to get in touch with Terrilyn? E-mail: terrilyn@bannikin.com.


    Britney Hope


    Bachelor of Fine Arts, Ryerson University

    Britney is a media relations specialist and award-winning travel writer with communications experience in B2C and B2B travel markets.

    After kicking off her career as a travel trade reporter for news outlets in Canada and the U.S., Britney began developing her ever-evolving understanding of the tourism industry while covering international conferences around the globe, where she forged lasting connections with media and travel professionals alike.

    In addition to serving as the editorial and communications associate for Logimonde Media, Britney has contributed tourism analysis features to TravelAge West and ASTA Magazine, and established her own column on sustainable tourism for CT Magazine. She has also served as the editor for Ensemble Travel Group’s collection of aspirational family, wedding and luxury travel-focused marketing materials. As a consumer-facing travel writer, Britney’s work has appeared in Canadian Traveller, NUVO and America, Yours to Discover.

    Britney’s work in media relations has been similarly varied; she has collaborated as a PR and content consultant with brands such as The Curtain London, Gaansevoort Meatpacking New York, Tradewinds, Silversea cruises, Travel Professionals International and TravelEdge.

    Britney is also active in the tourism industry, as a member of both Young Travel Professionals’ Toronto chapter and My Passion Media’s progressive collaboration group, Blazers. In October 2018, she was an event organizer for “Let’s Get Uncomfortable: Discussing Gender Equity and Equality in Canada’s Travel Industry” and plans to continue her advocacy for greater diversity and equality in tourism.

    Want to get in touch with Britney? Email: britney@bannikin.com


    Choy Teh


    Griffith University, BA in Marketing and Public Relations,
    Griffith University, BA in Asian Studies

    Choy is responsible for public relations in Asia. Previously, she managed the public relations division for The Travel Corporation brands in Asia. This portfolio included Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Contiki, Uniworld, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and Thompsons Africa. During this venture, she successfully cultivated and managed media and influencer campaigns throughout Asia. Her work included brand partnerships, curating story ideas, organizing media familiarisation trips, conceptualising PR launch events, and managing destination filming for TV programmes.

    Choy looks to secure long-term relationships for her clients. As an example, she brokered a 12-month PR partnership with Style magazine in Singapore for The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, where she negotiated monthly coverage, two magazine covers and 24 pages worth of fashion editorial photographs featuring the hotel properties. Her work has also been featured in top publications such as The Straits Times, The Business Times, The Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Tatler Singapore, Buro 24/7 Singapore, Silverkris, Conde Nast Traveller China, Expat Living HK and The South China Morning Post, including TV interviews on CNBC, BBC Asia and Channel News Asia.

    Choy is an active member of the entertainment and media industry in South East Asia and has had over 10 years of experience working as a TV presenter, actor and Radio DJ, predominantly in Singapore. From there, she has amassed a wide range of networks with top key media, editors, influencers, and local celebrities within the region.

    She speaks English, Cantonese, Malay, Indonesian, basic Mandarin and basic Spanish. She is based in Hong Kong.

    Want to get in touch with Choy? Email: choy@bannikin.com

  • Ashley BowesAshley BowesACCOUNT COORDINATOR

    Ashley Bowes


    Humber College - Film and Television Production

    Ashley Bowes is a media relations and digital marketing specialist, with a creative background in writing and video production. After studying Film and Television production in Toronto, she moved abroad to Edinburgh and landed her first marketing gig promoting comedic acts during the world’s largest arts festival.

    Prior to joining Bannikin, Ashley’s passion for travel and adventure has lead her to some far-flung corners of the earth, fuelling her drive to create compelling global stories and digital content. She specializes in growing the online presence for several travel brands and has developed her own personal brand to promote sustainable tourism and outdoor adventures. Ashley managed the global social media for Young Travel Professionals and previously produced digital media for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

    Ashley has extensive experience travelling across Australia, Iceland, Scotland, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. When she’s taking a break from all things digital, she can be best found outside with a camera in tow – documenting the adventure.

    Want to get in touch with Ashley? Email: ashley@bannikin.com

  • Jovily GabutenJovily GabutenMedia Relations Intern

    Jovily Gabuten

    Media Relations Intern

    Public Relations, Humber College

    Jovily Gabuten is a public relations student from Humber College Lakeshore. During her time at Humber, she has become proficient in areas such as strategic communications, news releases, pitches, social and digital media, marketing communications, and media relations.

    Graduating summer 2019, she hopes to pursue a career in travel PR where she can expand her knowledge and help promote sustainable tourism and outdoor adventures.

    Jovily’s love for adventure and the world’s natural wonders led her to complete a 10-hour hike in Oahu in 2016. She started her journey at The Moanualua Valley Trail and made it back down by taking Hawaii’s infamous Stairway to Heaven – a trip she will never forget.