PE: Province unveils latest tourism strategy

Ryan Ross
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The Guardian

Gallant admits it's hard to measure how successful marketing efforts are

Tourism P.E.I. marketing director Brenda Gallant and Tourism Advisory Council of P.E.I. Chairman John-Anthony Langdale look over the latest visitor's guide before the announcement of this year's tourism marketing plan Thursday.

[CHARLOTTETOWN, PE] – With a little fine-tuning and a change in how it handles TV markets, the province hopes its 2012 tourism strategy will help improve on a bad year.

Brenda Gallant, the Tourism Department's director of marketing, says there are ways of monitoring the different campaigns, but it's hard to measure how successful marketing efforts are.

"The bottom line is visitors to our province," she says.

Gallant represented the province at the launch of this year's tourism marketing plan at the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. annual conference in Charlottetown.

The gentle Island is back as the branding message for the province's tourism marketing in the push to retain markets in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, while trying to grow in Ontario, Quebec and the U.S.

In 2011 tourism generated $368 million in revenues, which was down 3.2 per cent from the previous year.

Gallant says the latest strategy isn't taking a new approach because a lot of things worked and it's a matter of fine-tuning the message.

"We're looking to improve upon the proven and play to our strengths and look at what are some additional things that we can to do take us even further," she says.

To do that, the marketing plan is moving away from buying expensive TV commercials and getting more involved with "content integration," which involves showcasing P.E.I. as part of the show instead of just buying ad time.

Charles MacIntyre, owner of Hiero Marketing, which helped develop the marketing plan, says the goal is to be involved in the show, but also drive people to the web for contests and information.

"It's about having part content and part excitement, as we like to say," he says.

MacIntyre used the recent visit from Hockey Day in Canada as an example, along with Come Dine With Me Canada, which is shooting five episodes in P.E.I.

As part of the push into Quebec, the province's top talk show Tout Le Monde En Parle will feature P.E.I. with the expectation it will reach 70 to 80 per cent of Quebec households weekly over a period of a month.

MacIntyre says it will involve a contest with people looking for a word within the show and going to a website to register.

"A lot more than just the passive placements," he says.

Gallant says Quebec will also be the only market where the province will buy TV advertisements because it's the only market that gives a good return due to the lower number of French channels compared to English channels in other markets.

"It seems to work better," she says.

Along with content integration, the strategy will also see an expansion of the P.E.I. Bound contest, which last year saw an RV drive around as a sort of mobile advertisement in target markets.

This year, the province is branding several hybrid SUVs and is hosting signature events, such as a suitcase party during which someone will win a trip to P.E.I. with the catch that they have to leave right away.

The strategy will also see the province launch a mobile app targeting the Quebec market and a bigger push into social media for that province.

TIAPEI president Elaine Thomson was at the marketing plan announcement and says it would make her want to come to P.E.I. if she didn't already live here.

"For sure," she says.

Thomson says she likes some of the different activities in other cities to generate interest in P.E.I. that are part of the strategy.

"Because I think when you have a captive audience like that your message comes through loud and clear so I like those tactics that they're taking now," she says.

Organizations: Tourism Department, Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., Hiero Marketing

Geographic location: Quebec, P.E.I., Charlottetown New Brunswick Nova Scotia Canada Ontario U.S.

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