Taking advantage of the Olympics...West Jet aims high...Jim's Deals of the Day
SAN FRANCISCO - Out here on some personal business and didn't have a chance to do any touring. But I was struck this morning when I looked at a note about how the Canadian Tourism Commission is hoping to take advantage of the good feelings left around the world by the Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.
It's funny. I got to play nine holes of golf on Saturday at my favourite little municipal course, Willow Park in suburban Castro Valley, and the guy there who knows me gave me a thumbs-up as my Dad and I checked in on a glorious, sunshine-filled day. "Great job you guys did at the Olympics," said the young guy behind the counter.
I can hardly take credit for Vancouver/Whistler's general success, but his sentiment was genuine and I
had to admit it made me feel pretty good as a Canadian (and American; I have dual citizenship as my cousin Laura kinda reminded me on Sunday, giving me a verbal poke in the ribs for sometimes making fun of Americans in this space). Canada did a great job at the Games, and folks genuinely were moved.
There are few things in life as momentous as the Olympics. I remember being in Atlanta on our way to Florida in, I think, March of 2002 - just after the Salt Lake City Winter Games - when we stopped at a barbeque restaurant. The waiter, a good old boy from the south, asked where we were from. We answered Toronto and he nodded his head.
"Y'all done whupped us at the Ohh-lympics," he said, drawing out the Ohhhh in true southern style. He was referrring to the gold medal hockey game, of course.
Anyway, this morning I see that the Canadian Tourism Commission smartly wants to take advantage of the roughly three million eyeballs that checked us out over the past few weeks of Ohh-lympic action.
CTC officials today said they're launching a print, TV and online campaign that focusses on five major U.S. cities; Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. In addition to using Facebook, Twitter and other, on-line outlets, the CTC will do major magazine ads and front-page, "wrap-around" ads in the L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune.
One of the many partners will be Tourism Toronto, which last week was trumpeting the announcement that Virgin America will start flying to Toronto from Los Angeles and San Francisco in June.
"I would wager that right now, Canada is the coolest national brand in the world and Vancouver is its signature," Tourism Vancouver president Rick Antonson said in today's Vancouver Sun. "But if we don't follow up [with more global marketing], that feeling could be gone in six months."
Tourism Vancouver will pluck hundreds of thousands of dollars from its reserves to pay for post-Games multimedia marketing campaigns in key North American markets over the next few months, the Sun
The Canadian Tourism Commission, which received an extra $26 million in federal funding in 2007 for Olympicrelated marketing, still has about half that money left and will spend it over the next two years, the Sun said.
"We're going to expand tactically driven sales and marketing campaigns to keep Canada front and centre in our core markets," said commission vice-president Susan Iris.
She noted the commission's consumer websites had a 120-per-cent increase in traffic during the Olympics and overseas tour operators reported a doubling and tripling in the number of inquiries about trips to Canada last month.
Iris feels strategic post-Games tourism marketing could increase the number of visits to Canada this year
but expects the real boost will come over a longer time frame.
"It was never an immediate impact strategy," she said. "It was always long term to ensure Canada is in the public eye for years to come."
WEST JET AIMING HIGH
New WestJet chief Gregg Saretsky says he wants to get to the point where his airline has half the domestic market.
"We're at 37 per cent now, so we think we'll grow that to 50 per cent or so," he told the Montreal Gazette.
Saretsky pointed to a number of new tactics that his company is using to take on the likes of Air Canada a and Air Transat, including package-tour vacations, the new frequent-flyer program and MasterCard deal with the Royal Bank and the coming codeshare agreements with other North American and European or Asian airlines. A deal with Southwest has been talked about for some time, and there were reports last week that WestJet wants to link with Virgin America. They're also doing deals with Air France/KLM and with China Airlines.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY
$58 - Toronto to Fort Lauderdale, cheap non-stop return flight ($289 w/tax)