Regis and Kelly Praise Prince Edward Island (PEI)

 We love to watch ourselves and our province being toasted by celebrities but will more tourists come?

Wow! PEI on daytime TV in Canada and the US. We’re so proud of our home province. Everyone within distance of their TV was watching and the rest are recording it at home.  This is bigger than the Canada Russia hockey game, at least for Islanders.

Regis Philbin, who seems like  a nice guy for a celebrity, opened the broadcast up to at least 10,000 people to watch. Smart move for them and priceless for Ghiz. He needs a shot of popularity and this will be a hit with the female demographic Regis and Kelly aims at.
It’s a lot of press all at once for PEI, which is the goal. Canada AM covering it is a nice touch.
But will it mean people come here this year? Probably not. In this crazy world, next year is a long shot.
Most of our tourists don’t come from the US or the ROC. Surprising eh? They come from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and the numbers are going down ever since 1997. 
US visitors amount to less than 10% of our tourists. The number is so dismal that the strategy released in March 2010 wrote the market off as hopeless, despite the statements made by the Department of Tourism to justify Regis and Kelly
So a 10% market gets nearly 25% of the marketing dollars. Wow that’s how you run a business…into the ground.

The chances for growth in the US market are nil during the worst recession/depression in US history since the 1930s and with the Canadian dollar at par. All the written reports from the Department of Tourism, TIAPEI and the Tourism Advisory Council admit that.
But why not? Regis and Kelly are better use of $1 million than the Olympics fiasco. Better use than hiring Tracey Vessey and putting her on lifetime pension with her husband.
Americans don’t know where much of Canada is, let alone PEI. I didn’t survey waitresses in Arizona like the Premier. “And where is PEI?” he (Ghiz) inquired of a waitress reported the Globe and Mail. “I’m not exactly sure of its location,” replied the waitress, “but it’s an island off the coast of Italy.”
In 14 years of traveling to the US on business the “Where is PEI?” question was on every person’s lips. After struggling for years, I stumbled on the one connection almost everyone with a daughter has with PEI – Anne of Green Gables.
The Disney Channel broadcast Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel on TV and cable since 1987.  Road to Avonlea started a good ten year run in 1990.
Every father’s daughter is in love with Anne. For men I met in business, I simply asked them if they had a daughter and if he had watched Anne of Green Gables with her. If you want to melt a dad’s heart, talk about his daughter. Everyone knew immediately where PEI was. They wondered what it was like to live on that enchanted Island. Most women in business already knew Anne. It was the best door opener about a business from PEI.
The point that poor Premier Ghiz doesn’t realize is that 4 days of the “PEI Brand” on American TV is like disaster of the week. Next week a million new places, stories, and images will be on TV to attract the attention of Americans who care more about jobs than the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico let alone vacations to Canada. We are getting from Regis and Kelly nice reach but poor frequency to use the marketing terms.
If Ghiz is smart, he will try to get rights to the video clips for YouTube. I doubt they will give them without more millions but maybe that might help the Regis and Kelly segments to have more frequency.
The Globe and Mail has a decent analysis of the event. Marketing PEI – The unveiling of a hidden gem.
PS Not to slight Kelly. I was told she is a lovely person with a great husband. That’s the last word on that.

Click HERE to read more columns by Stephan Pate.

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