Marketing Matters: Unique ideas from the Island
By Cathy Bartolic
By Cathy Bartolic
This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit my favourite province – Prince Edward Island. The smallest province in Canada, is famous for red sand beaches, potatoes, and the irrepressible Anne of Green Gables. P.E.I.’s population hovers around 150,000 but 1.55 million visitors annually swell that number considerably.
Tourism is definitely one of the island’s largest industries and despite efforts to increase the shoulder season most of the tourism dollars are still made in July and August. Islanders are skilled at offering unique experiences that have visitors raving about their holidays.
On Sundays in Charlottetown, they close down the main street and bring in vendors for their farmers’ market. There are a few farmers but the majority of the vendors and crafters offer beautiful one-of-a-kind creations.
The Potato Farmer’s Daughter caught my attention right away because it was one of the few stalls that had a lineup. Not surprising when
I realized what they were selling – potato donuts. They displayed their donuts by placing pegs into a wooden board and hanging one donut on each peg. Creative and out of the box thinking combined with a great tasting, unique product has made them into a favourite for Islanders and visitors alike.
Experience P.E.I. is a tour company specializing in unique experiential activities that connect visitors with exciting and knowledgeable Islanders. They offer more than 20 experiences that expose visitors to a talented array of Island artists, farmers, fisherman, naturalists and chefs. Targeting the cruise markets, Experience PEI offers alternatives to the traditional shopping excursions that are available on most cruise lines. Some examples of their tours are ‘Beachcomber’s Clam Boil’ where you can stroll along a private beach and learn the best ways to dig, comb and collect your evening meal of fresh clams or how about ‘Sensational Sandcastles’? On this tour you will receive a private sandcastle building lesson with a professional sand sculptor. These are wonderfully unique experiences.
Next to Anne, Chef Michael Smith is P.E.I.’s most famous resident. He has authored 10 cookbooks and starred in five different shows on the Food Network, before he and his wife took over the Failing Inn at Bay Fortune in 2015. Right from the start, they knew they didn’t want standard hotel fare in traditional dining rooms. They planned to grow their own food, cook it with live fire and serve it at communal tables where guests could mingle as they ate.
The Fireworks Feast offers an authentic culinary experience that connect their guests to the farm and the island. FireWorks is named after the 25-foot brick-lined, wood-burning, fire-breathing beast that anchors the Fire Kitchen. It includes every form of live-fire cooking known to man; a smokehouse, open hearth, grill, rotisserie, plancha and wood oven. The feast is several hours long starting with a tour of the organic farm.
The Smiths admit that it was nerve wracking to launch such a unique, revolutionary, experiential event but their gut instinct said to go with it and give it a try.
All these experiences are successful because of the environment where they are located. P.E.I. is a relaxing, generally rural province with some of the most welcoming and likeable people you will find anywhere. Make sure to add it to your bucket list and see how they attract so many people to their little island.