Accommodations and Meetings/Conventions Focus Group Notes

by / Comments Off on Accommodations and Meetings/Conventions Focus Group Notes / 121 View / June 3, 2016


Alfred Groom – Quality Inn, Summerside
Isaac MacPherson – Brackley Beach Northwinds
Sandy Lowther – Fairways Cottages, Cavendish
Rachel Vidito – Great George Hotel
Michelle Westaway – Great George Hotel
Ann Worth – Meetings and Conventions PEI
Marsha Doiron – Trius Tours / Prince Edward Tours
Tracy Singleton –  Bosom Buddies, Cavendish
Linda Lowther – Without Accommodation Portfolio
Jay Macdonald – Elmwood Heritage Inn, Charlottetown

The starting statement was offered by David McNulty:

“A birds-eye view of PEI would show clusters of tourists in a few areas around the Province (Some West Prince communities, Evangeline area, Summerside, Cavendish, other North Shore, Victoria/South Shore, Georgetown/Montague-ish, Souris/Fortune, and of course Charlottetown).  Should this continue to be where we place our emphasis or should we look at other areas (to be developed)?”

This led with remarkably little prompting to a wide ranging discussion, reported in point form here:

  • There seem to be politicized (small ‘p’) decisions about where $$s will be invested and not for sound business reasons.
  • Winners (successful businesses) seldom get rewarded; losers do get rewarded
  • Some voices are louder (even those who are’winners’) and get listened to more
  • Supports should go to businesses who stay open longer, have longer seasons – good for the visitor and good for the staff
  • In many places tired product needing cash but for several years no access to funds
  • Support should go to regional small successful businesses (a couple of names include Blue Mussel Café, Great Canadian Goat Soap, Thompson’s Woodcraft)
  • Need for Professional Development for Owners and Employees
  • Parks Canada – has good programs: stories, interpretation but cut backs have limited hours/days
  • Hopefully some more $$ for Parks for 2017 to maximize return on world wide appeal of Anne in 150th year celebrations.


  • What is the Island Brand?
  • Seems to come from Tourism PEI eg Gov’t top down telling us what our brand is
  • TAC in past 10 years tried to define but seems ultimately it has been whatever the Gov’t ad agency of the day says it is: One of the Worlds Best Islands, The Gentle Island, The Gentle Island of Rejuvenation, Come Play on Our Island, Come Play on My Island, PEI Play, Come to the Island; Stay for the Party, Life is simply better when you add a little Island, and now True Island Flavour.  Along with that, three “day” trips turned into six which turned into regions which next became coastal tours which now are two Coastal Tours, Two Shore Tours and Charlottetown.
  • All these changes have not been bought into by the industry because no one ever asked. It is non-supported and fragmented
  • Questions about “What is (or should be) the role of Government in Tourism?
  • In various years, they or their ad agencies created the images/impressions/themes/brands according to their thoughts and likes or dislikes.
  • Industry operators do first hand research every day by asking guests about food preferences, touring desires, theatre and music choices and finding opportunities
  • 2014 video, which was excellent didn’t show even one child in the whole 4-5 minutes.
  • 2014 guide had no photos of meat or editorial mention – steaks or ribs, lamb or bbq etc. Only about 6 restaurants mentioned steaks or beef in their listing.  For non-seafood eaters this could be worrisome.  By 2015 there was one pic of a woman eating meat and 2 hamburgers.  This year 2016, steak made the front cover!
  • Our small scale allows instant connections and we help to sell experiences, wine, tours, crafts etc. This is true for accommodations businesses and for Meeting and Convention planners and tour companies.  We wish we knew more places but we all know some great spots.  Need to build on successes as said at beginning
  • There is an opportunity to sell the broad experience of PEI.
  • The Brand should fit the Vision but the Vision is not addressed – set seemingly annually by Tourism PEI


  • We are missing out when it comes to bringing people here.
  • Air access is limited from Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto
  • Air Canada has more seats but half are on midnight flight leaving from Toronto at 8:55 PM and their other flight leaves Toronto at 7:55 AM meaning a 6:30 AM Airport arrival time. Can’t arrive in one day before midnight unless one lives in TO and leaves home at 5 AM.
  • (Added later: One guest at Elmwood booked his summer visit in January, to fly from Baltimore to Toronto and then Charlottetown to arrive at about 6 PM. AC just changed his flight to the midnight arrival and that was to require 12 hours in Pearson airport.  His line to AC was, “I want to vacation in Canada, not in the airport”.  And so he was re-booked to fly to Halifax and then to Charlottetown arrival at 7:23 PM)
  • We are missing a huge market in the US, the North-East Affluent. 56 million people live between Maine and New York and only as far south as Pennsylvania.  Add in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan all of which are one flight away or driveable distance to Toronto 30 million for a total of 86 million people and we are doing almost nothing directed at that group which is almost 3 times the population of Canada!
  • Fresh air, fresh food, clean water, natural beauty, theatre, dining, outdoor experiences are all motivators
  • Better air connections, better promotions, higher visibility and awareness.
  • Do most Americans even know there is a 20%+ premium for their dollar?