Tourism industry told to make visitors' short P.E.I. stays memorable

Dave Stewart
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Lynn Buckley of Agenda Management Inc. in Halifax, spoke to a meeting of the Tourist Industry Association of PEI in Charlottetown Wednesday.

Imagine visiting P.E.I. for the first time and rappelling off the Confederation Bridge.

Or perhaps being a fan of the legendary Anne of Green Gables book and having breakfast with a descendent of author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Either one could best be described as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something meetings and conventions expert Lynn Buckley thinks local organizers should shoot for when it comes to packing an experience for those who come to P.E.I.

“We already know they’re coming,’’ Buckley told those gathered at the inaugural Tourism Marketplace in Charlottetown on Wednesday. “You want to get them back.’’

Meetings and Conventions P.E.I. teamed up with Cavendish Beaches and the Dune Shores Tourism Association, TIAPEI and the Tourism Advisory Council to host this new event, bringing together more than 100 operations considered buyers and sellers in the marketplace.

Meetings and conventions are big business in the province. Last year, more than 17,000 delegates dropped by creating a boost to the economy to the tune of $19.5 million. The numbers this year are expected to match those in 2011 before soaring in 2012 when the convention centre opens in Charlottetown.

Buckley’s message is a simple one — develop a meetings package for those coming in for meetings and conventions that provides them with so much fun they’ll come back as tourists.

Those packages should be convenient and easy to understand and they should give people an exact idea of how much it will cost them.

“People want to plan and budget for a trip. They want to know what they’re going to spend. If they can pick up the phone once and budget for four to five experiences at once that is huge.’’

Buckley is with Agenda Managers in Halifax whose purpose is to provide clients with leading edge ideas and expertise for meeting and event creation, design and implementation.

She told meetings and convention planners it’s important to know their clientele, what their interests are and to tailor their experience on P.E.I. to that.

Their P.E.I. visit should be a defining moment, Buckley said, providing them with access to something they normally wouldn’t be able to do.

She cited one meeting/convention in Halifax that included repelling off the Angus Macdonald Bridge as an activity. For another event involving Sable Island, she included dinner with a Sable Island painter as a treat. Just a couple of examples of how meetings and conventions planning can enhance their guests’ experience.

“Make them feel like they didn’t do it all,’’ Buckley said, referring to the experience promised in that meetings and conventions package. “And it all started with a package.’’

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Dune Shores Tourism Association, Tourism Advisory Council

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown, Halifax Sable Island

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Recent comments

  • kb
    March 09, 2012 - 11:09

    @ FORMER ISLANDER : I agree with you on everything you say here as I am in Ontario now and we only go back to the Island about once every 4 or 5 years where we use to go every year to visit family. Tourism is way overpriced as they try to make a buck but in the long run, the Island sad to say will suffer in the long run. The Island is losing out on tourism big time. Just for instance, here is an example, everyone likes their lobster when they go there and the prices are absurd. The other day i got Maritime lobster in Oshawa here from Sobey's as they had it on for $5.99 a pound. It is usually around $8.00 a pound on a daily basis. On the Island, you will never get lobster for this price. Like i say, this is just one example. Lodging on the Island is getting out of control on their prices to attract any visitors. Good luck with your tourism, i hope you do change things to attract visitors.

  • From Away
    March 08, 2012 - 14:40

    Alot of people, myself included, like to visit in September...but everything closes after Labor Day. I have been visiting the Island since 2002 and rarely have encountered a bad attitude at a restaurant or business. Usually, the bad attitudes are from other tourist. I find Islanders to be the most friendly and helpful group of people I have ever encounted.

  • Checker
    March 08, 2012 - 13:37

    We have to accept that people no longer vacation as they did at one time. The family vacation is a thing of the past for many. Most families have two working parents and in far too many cases a single parent trying to raise a family. They cannot afford a vacation. The only people making money are the promoters we all know them and how much they have milked the system. Unfortunately Island tax payers cannot afford a big tourism industry and they are the ones paying for it. Our government seems to think a corporate economy is the way to go. Ten percent of the population with 90% of the wealth. Now we are building a conference centre in a sink hole. Must be the excessive profits and kick backs that keep the economy going?

  • Former Islander
    March 08, 2012 - 11:29

    Let me first say that although I have lived most of my life in Ontario, my heart is still on the Island and always will be. My husband and I have been to the Island several times in the past 10 years and have found that each year, things have increased in price to the point that instead of "coming home" every year, we come back every 3-4 years. We always visited during the off season as rates for accommodations etc. were cheaper...not so anymore. What used to be prime season rates are now the off season rates. We realize that it's the domino affect...wages, gas, hydro etc. increase and have to be passed on to the consumer, but when tourism is one of the major industries you rely on, you may want to look at this area. A wise person once said that "a half a knife is better than none" and in this case, would it not be better having people renting your hotel rooms, cottages etc. at a reasonable rate, than them sitting empty? Plus as we all know, it's the other service industries that lose out as well. Just my thoughts.

    • Johanna
      March 09, 2012 - 11:33

      Former Islander I have been visiting PEI from Ontario since 2004. I find the prices comparable or cheaper than here. While prices have increased with the cost of living increasing so too have the prices everywhere else. It all depends on what type of accomadation you are looking at. There are really nice places out there that are what i consider to be very reasonable. If you want to go every year then maybe cut back in other areas of your life to save money in order to go every year.

  • TOO MEMORABLE
    March 08, 2012 - 09:59

    You have lost tourism due to greedy people. Prices are too high,, both in accommodations and restrauratns. Not enough staff and lousy attitudes from staff. Not the majority but some. All it takes is a few for word to get around. I esed to highlty recommed the Island to everyone who asked but no anymore. Everything that is opened here is high priced to keep the locals out but close when the tourist won't come. Not goos business sense. Also if the Government would stop paying for the advertising for aLL THE BUSINESSES HERE MAYBE THEY WOULD PUT SOME MONEY AND EFFORT INTO THEIR OWN COMPANIES.

  • mra
    mra
    March 08, 2012 - 09:29

    all's one has to do is count buses in the summer. prices and attitudes has killed this industry.

    • Garth Staples
      March 08, 2012 - 09:56

      Correct. In the 80's over 1100 coaches visited PEI. I would hazard a guess that that number is now closer to 400-500.

  • CJ Dobson
    March 08, 2012 - 08:39

    Ms Buckley didn't do her research - there are relatives of LMM on the Island but not descendants. I disagree with her comment about enticing people back AFTER a conference. Why not make it appealing for people to come for a few days before a conference and stay a few days after so that they are seeing more of the Island than the four walls of a convention facility which look the same everywhere in the world? If that type of strategic thinking was involved, with packages that show off all parts of the Island, then you'd have people instantly hooked to come back again and again. There also has to be some thought given by all of our ports in this region to entice cruise passengers to come back as land visitors. Right now the attitude I see is that, ok I've been to PEI, I took a tour that showed me a slice of the Island, so x it off the bucket list. We're showing tourists the ankle, we need to figure out how to show the whole leg!

  • IslandD
    March 08, 2012 - 07:49

    Went to these sessions and complete waste of time. Speaker was WAY off and if I hear Joanne Thomsen say the same thing again, I will scream. Get new material people. You have been spitting the same facts out for YEARS. Fake?

  • LD
    March 08, 2012 - 07:44

    I happened to be an attendee at this event and I must say that the tradeshow exhange was very good and worthwhile. The speaker on the other hand was horrible. She knew nothing about our product and was very misguided. Whomever is responsible for bringing her here, obvisously didn't do their homework and didn't know what she was all about. Don't just find someone to speak folks, research them beforehand!!!!

  • Acklima Mohammed
    March 08, 2012 - 06:12

    Prince Edward Island is The Most Beautiful Place I have visited on planet Earth. Not only is that the island is 'Picture Perfect" but its people are warm, humble and very friendly. I found the island while surfing the internet and have visited there 12 or 13 times within a 5 year period. I recommend that more emphasis should be done by advertising in foreign magazines, radio, print and television media. Special thanks to George Wotton from Charlottetown for showing me around and made sure I had a good time. Greetings to his family and friends and those who work and visits the Charlottetown Famers Market. I am from Trinidad and Tobago.

  • jason bourne
    March 07, 2012 - 21:19

    Hold on a second here. Having lunch with a descendant of Lucy M. Montgomery is a "once in a lifetime experience"? PLEASE tell me you're joking.

  • Wondering
    March 07, 2012 - 20:52

    What did they have to pay to have this women come here? Looking at cuts to health care and someone comes to say we need to have tourism memorable. Could have been done with a video.

  • Islander
    March 07, 2012 - 18:42

    The Confederation Bridge is a necessary piece of transportation infrastructure. Not a recreational playground. Not to get too cranky, but don't impede our constitutional right to access the mainland so that a few rich people can have a stupid thrill.

    • Garth Staples
      March 07, 2012 - 20:24

      Meetings and conventions are big business in the province. Last year, more than 17,000 delegates dropped by creating a boost to the economy ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ I didn't know the industry had deteriorated to such an extent. Twenty five years ago this number was higher! I was there.