Tourism and Social Media – Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island - Lighthouse

Recently, I was lucky enough to travel around Prince Edward Island (PEI) and was extremely impressed by how the various tourism groups, attractions and cities made such great use of social media, especially Twitter. As a traveler and social media consultant, what they were doing impressed me on many levels.

Most of the social media teams I virtually came across realized the importance of using social media as marketing tool, from the initial info-gathering months before my departure, to the post-trip compliments from various people, tourism boards and attractions.

In June, when I made the decision to go to PEI for the first time, I tweeted at Tourism PEI and within a span of 10 days, I was introduced to events on the Island, various tourist outfits and other groups that I could communicate with – all that from one tweet asking their tourism board for some suggestions.

Initial Tweet to @GentleIsland

When I reached out again a month out from my trip, I posted the following tweet and that opened the floodgates to many conversations for the coming weeks.

 Month away tweet

By way of tagging various others in tweets, I was introduced to @PEIPotatoes, @PEIFlavours, @OutdoorEx, @IslandFroYo, @Joeysfishing, locals with suggestions of their favourite places and further conversations with @GentleIsland.  Through those conversations, I was able to narrow down my choices, plan activities better and get some feedback and suggestions from others.

Before Twitter, the planning process would have taken longer and I would not have been able to access people outside of my immediate circle by word-of-mouth.  Now by using social media for something like tourism, where word-of-mouth is so important, you are able to widen your circle of experts to the networks of people who might only follow one similar profile, like that of @GentleIsland.

When I was just days away from my visit, I decided that Twitter was a good way to check in with places I wanted to visit to see if they would be open and could make other recommendations.  This led to a great Twitter conversation and relationship with @PEIBrew, that would continue throughout my travels on the Island.

 @PEIBrew and @CharlottetownPE

Once I was on the Island and enjoying the suggestions of @PEIBrew, the tweets and tags inspired @CharlottetownPE to join the conversation, which continued right until I was back in Toronto.

 @GahanBeer and @PEIBrew and Pumpkin Ale

It was these conversations during my trip around PEI that really made me feel like I was welcome and part of the Island family, even if just for a moment.  This may sound crazy but as someone travelling alone, I felt that I was travelling with others,  because @GentleIsland, @CharlottetownPE, @PEIBrew and @GahanBeer were interested in what I had to say and what I was doing.

It’s amazing what a difference it can make in your travels, knowing that someone is interested and cares about you having the best time that you can.  Not just a love-them-and-leave-them, out of sight and out of mind.  These social media teams really tried to make you feel at home, even if that’s not what their main goal was.

 Thanks PEI Tweet

Twitter is one of the best tools for customer service, when used the right way.  Much positive power can come from using Twitter, especially for small businesses.  But so much negative can also come from not using it properly or ignoring those that are trying to reach you through it. I will say that I did develop negative feelings towards the companies, many larger ones, that ignored my tweets when I tried to reach out to them.

PEI seemed to recognize the importance of social media, especially Twitter, to engage with potential customers and visitors in real time.  And by doing so and tagging others in the tweets, that opens the door to small and large business es working together towards the same goal: Putting PEI on everyone’s radar as a great place to visit.

This experience with social media (Twitter) and PEI tourism has really opened my eyes to what potential there is when I visit other cities and countries.   Do others do it just as well or maybe better?  Would love to see others try.


Memorable videos of 2012

2012 has been another great year of viral videos.  I’ve put together a blog of some of my favourites of this year (and maybe one or two from a few years ago).  Grab a drink and sit back and enjoy.  Please share your favourites with us!



And a favourite from 2010, but I only just saw it for the first time in 2012.

Please share some of your favourites with us!

Happy New Year and all the best in 2013!

Guest Blog – Vancouver and Victoria thru the eyes of a 10 year old.

Please welcome my guest blogger, my 10 year old niece.  She enjoyed a trip to BC for the first time earlier this summer.  This is Vancouver and Victoria through her eyes.  Enjoy!

I went to Vancouver for the first time!  My dad took me and my aunt and cousin came with us. My first full day was July 1st and we went to Steveston.



For lunch my dad and aunt had salmon, but of course it was a salmon fest! After lunch we went to the Gulf of Georgia cannery, it was cool. My cousin and I each made a Ukrainian Easter egg.  It was a lot of work but worth it.



July 2nd, we went to Stanley Park. First we went to the Vancouver Aquarium. We saw the dolphin and beluga show.




Then we went to an aboriginal village. Finally we went to see some totem poles.  Here are some of my favourites.


July 3rd, after breakfast we did a tree top canopy walk and it was a lot of fun. Next stop was Granville Island. We also went to the Museum of Anthropology.


July 4th,  we had to get up early because we were going to get on the ferry to Vancouver island! The ride was cool because I have only ever being on the ferry to Centerville. Then we were off to see some friends.  After our visit we had some yummy fish and chips at Fish on 5th. After lunch we went to the Salish Sea Aquarium.  It had a touch tank.  Then we stood in the Sidney Opera House . We stayed at the UVIC Student Residence.  Oh by the way in Vancouver we stayed at UBC Residence.

July 5th,  first we did a tour of parliament in Victoria. After our tour we went to fisherman’s wharf where we watched some kids feeding the harbour seal.




Then we were off to miniature world at the Empress. My cousin, aunt and I went to Butchart gardens. I got to take pictures because my dad did not come in, it was beautiful. Finally back to the ferry and back to Vancouver. When we got to our hotel my cousin and I got to go swimming.



July 6th, my dad and I had to get up early because we were going home. We got to fly in a new plane but there were NO TVs it was terrible but we had this very nice lady beside us so it was not that bad. And that is all I have to say about my trip to Vancouver!!!!!!!!

What an Olympic experience!

Today was the last full day of my incredible London 2012 Olympic experience. And boy was it a full day! Along with all the other wonderful events I’ve been too this week, the big goal all along was to get to events at Olympic Park, the centre of it all.

Once I knew I was going to the Olympics, I worked all my connections and social media savvy to find tickets to events at the park. I ended up pretty successful with 3, almost, back to back events. The day started with a some great women’s basketball games in the Basketball Arena. France vs. Russia (France won) and the Czech Republic vs. Angola (first time in the Olympics) where the Czech Republic won fairly easily. The games and atmosphere were great. Plus the temporary venue was perfect. And we had awesome 8th row seats!


Following that it was off to the world’s largest McDonald’s for my second McD’s of the day. Check out this line up. But only took about 15 minutes.


After a well balanced meal, getting caught in the rain, running into my friend’s sister (Canadians can find each other any where) it was time for some Water Polo. Now I knew nothing about this sport, but it’s all part of the experience and it too was incredible. Some really energetic fans. But how the heck do these girls play this sport. It seems so tiring.


First it was the big water polo national of Hungary vs. Russia, then Australia vs. China which went into double overtime and a shoot out (Oz won). That meant a hustle over to the Aquatic Centre for the Women’s 3m Springboard Diving final. With flag and flag head band in hand, and on head, I made it over to the one place I had really been wishing to see, the Aquatic Centre. What an incredible venue. I could just imagine the crowds cheering on Michael Phelps or Ryan Cochrane.

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Sadly our Canadians didn’t win a medal, but the diving was incredible. To see the Chinese divers live, was amazing.

After having some trouble saying goodbye to the Olympic Park, it was time for me to leave and end my Olympic journey. But not before noticing again, just how well organized this entire event is. Congratulations London, you have done an incredible job!


But who do I cheer for?

As I wrap up day two of watching the games live, I must say it’s been quite a day. First off the big things: our first Gold, an awesome silver and a wonderful bronze for Canada on super Saturday. Glad to know of the 25 Golds given out today that one went to Canada. Fantastic. Go Canada Go!

But what have I been up to today you may ask? Today was my Beach Volleyball day, all right in the heart of London at the Horse Guards Parade near the palace. So amazing to be sitting watching this very modern sport surrounding by all this history, greatness and plus some modern architecture.


We were lucky enough to catch a men’s and women’s match. In the men’s, Germany played Latvia and in the women’s it was Brazil vs. the Czech Republic. Since neither my home or birth country were playing, the question comes up who do I cheer for? One or the other or everyone? The top seed or the underdog? Or the one everyone else is cheering for? I didn’t know. Most of the time I go underdog. But today, it ended up that I cheered for the higher seeded team of Germany for the men and the underdog of the Czech Republic for the women. Couldn’t really tell you how I came to that decision, but I’m sure many of us couldn’t explain what we do when we don’t have a team affiliation.

Here is team Latvia.


Team Czech Republic


Germany won and the Czech republic won, so I guess I chose well.

But what a great atmosphere and energy. The music, the fans, the volunteers. Incredible. I can’t say enough about how well organized these games are. Tomorrow will be the big test as I head to Olympic Park for my 3 event day.

Again no idea who to cheer for. But it looks like at my last event of my Olympic Experience I will be able to wave our flag and be a crazy Canuck as I watch the women’s 3m springboard diving final where we have 2 awesome Canadians who qualified. I’m so pumped. Go Canada Go!


But my question is to you, who do you cheer for when you don’t really know who’s playing?

A dream realized…Olympics

I never thought that the day would come that I would get a real chance to attend the Olympic Games. I had dreamed it for as long as I could remember. Actually, I think I can remember exactly when it became my dream. It was the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when Alex Baumann won his gold medals. From that moment on I wanted go and compete for Canada in swimming. That dream never materialized, but then the next dream of competing for Canada as a rower crept in my head when I took up competitive rowing. Sadly that was not to be either.

Then Vancouver 2010 happened and I will always kick myself for not going to those games. So when the opportunity came up to attend the London 2012 games, I couldn’t pass it up, no matter what the cost.

So this past Tuesday I began my journey to London for the games. The bad weather tried to me down, but I finally arrived on Wednesday and it’s been go go go since then (all fun). From picking up my tickets to trying to catch up with friends who’s schedules are also filled with watching events, its been a whirl wind.


Today I got to attend my first event. And what better to start with than Rowing. It was incredible. From the shuttle bus to the volunteers to the incredible organization of it all, it has all been done right over here. And the rowing itself was great. Sadly it was not a big day for Canada but I did get to see the men’s pair race and I could almost reach out and touch them.


My next few days are filled with so much more, that I will share with you as it happens. I just can’t wait and also have trouble believing this is all really happening. Pinch me, it is! Go Canada Go!


I will say one last thing, I do miss the CTV coverage of the Games. Can’t say that the BBC style is for me. But still great to watch it in real time.

One Last Stop

I’ve been home for a few days now.  All unpacked, laundry is all done, slowly catching up on sleep, and some friends and family have already been made to look at my 650+ photos.  But, I wanted to tell you about the last stop on the big tour, Los Angeles.

Let me start by talking about Air New Zealand.  Really enjoyed their hospitality for my flight from Auckland to Los Angeles.  The flight attendants were lovely, the plane was new, the movie selection had over 50 movies from “When Harry met Sally” to “My Week with Marilyn” and one of the best things of all, they played music in the toilets.  It’s amazing how such a little thing could mean so much to me.  It made the whole experience very relaxing and the washrooms were spacious (for a plane) and decorated nicely.  One had wallpaper with a chandelier on it.  Really made you feel like you were not being rushed, like I normally do.  Thanks for the little things Air New Zealand.

But, on to the last stop of my journey.  Let me just say, I like the word journey more than vacation or trip.  Because that’s what it was, a journey.

Los Angeles, like always, was an interesting place.  It was made so much better this time with a few good friends to travel with, Joe and Stephanie.  Thanks so much for joining me.

As I’m a creature of habit, stayed in the same Holiday Inn Express (free breakfast – it’s the little things that are important) and rented the car from the same Budget.  If you’re happy with the service and experience, why change it when it’s such a short trip.  After luckily getting to check in early, it was off to Hollywood and Highland and the walk of fame.  Had to leave Stephanie there, while I headed off to a meeting.  But, quickly returned and checked out a few things.  Included purchasing a very yummy cupcake from Crumbs Bakery.  That wouldn’t be the only one I enjoyed on my short visit to LA.

After Joe’s arrival, very early Tuesday morning, and some sleep, we were off on our day of studios and tv shows.  We enjoyed a tour of the Warner Bros Studios in the morning.  I had been sad that my favourite show, “The Big Bang Theory” was on hiatus that week, so I couldn’t get tickets to a taping, but luckily we were at least able to go and check out the set.  Also, the set of “Mike and Molly” since they were also off.  All in all a great tour.

We had to then kill some time before going to “The Ellen Degeneres Show”.  Interesting though, we almost missed it.  Let me tell you the story.  We received a call on Monday night saying that the time we needed to be at the show to check in had moved from 2pm to 3:30pm.  So we showed up at 3:25pm, thinking we would be early, but not the case.  The waiting area was already full.  We headed over to a security guard, they told us we were early for our show taping and that we were in the second taping of the day, so to just sit over there and wait for this group to leave.  We did what we were told.

The “other” group was getting their numbers etc.  Luckily, Stephanie decided to go and check.  After being yelled at by another security guard for not doing what he had told everyone to do by getting in line for numbers, we rushed over and got the last 3 guaranteed seating numbers.  We explained to the girl what happened and she told us that the security and the show don’t work together, so they don’t know what the security is saying.  Okay, a little confused.  The only people were saw or were able to speak to when we arrived were the many security guards, no show staff.  Might be a good idea for them to all be on the same page, especially for them to know that there is only one show taping that day.  But, I still wonder why I received a call to say come at 3:30pm, when it looked like others had been there for hours before us.

Oh well, we got to see the show and the guests were great this time around.  Jonah Hill was there talking about the new movie he wrote and stars in, 21 Jump Street.  Additionally we had a guy from “X-Factor” and this amazing guy who taps on the NYC Subway to make money for his Penn State education.  Good show!

Did I mention that all this was on my big birthday.  Awesome day.  We topped the day off with a great dinner at Il Cielo in Beverly Hills.  Check out the decor.

Il Cielo











After a lovely meal with great company, it was time to call it a day on the actual birthday, but don’t worry like usual my birthday will continue for at least a few months or a full year this year.  We all deserve nice long birthdays.

Our next day was all about being tourists, doing the hop on and off bus tour.  We got down to Santa Monica where I got to stand on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.  Pretty cool to stand on so many sides of the Pacific Ocean on one trip.  Plus a few dips into it.








Luckily we went to Santa Monica, because we got to see our fill of C and D list stars.  Started with Kevin Sorbo shooting some movie.  Might have been this one, The Whole Banana . And then a major highlight, we saw the one and only, The Hoff.  Yes, David Hasselholf and he didn’t seem drunk or anything.  Just wearing some bad long, white socks.  We continued to hope and dream that we would see at least one A or at least B list actor, but nothing.  We do think though that we saw this guy at The Grove.

After all of our touristy stuff, it was time to pack up and head back to reality and home to see my family and other friends, plus sleep in my own bed again!  I had a wonderful home coming with my family and some friends.  Thanks for the great Arrivals welcome from my favourite girls, my sister and my two nieces.   Always, dreamed of one of those.  It is after all the happiest place on Earth, according to Hugh Grant in the movie “Love Actually”.

Will probably do one more blog post about the trip to share some interesting observations about other travelers and general over all thoughts.  Keep an eye out for that one.


Last days in NZ

My last days in New Zealand have been great. Things have been slowing down a bit. Not any huge adventures, but still great fun.

Because I have not treated myself enough, on Thursday I went for an aqua massage and a soak in the thermal pools at the Polynesian spa in Rotorua. That was great. I don’t think my skin has ever been so smooth. But I don’t think I will be getting the sulphur smell out of my swimsuit any time soon. Time to buy a new one.

After some more relaxing, it was off to an exciting evening with the the Maori people for a traditional Hangi. Well as traditional as you can get with about 200+ of your closest strangers. Check out the awesome food we got to eat.


Plus so much more. They also explained the Maori culture and history to us a bit. Very interesting. Following that had a bit of Kiwi (bird) experience. They are pretty cool birds and NZ is doing so much to protect them. Impressive.

After my last bus ride it was time for my last days to be spent in Auckland. Started my trip in a big city, Sydney, and ending in a big city, Auckland. It’s a nice city and I’ve been staying with a great girl through Airbnb. Spent time just enjoying the city and the only aquarium of my trip. The Kelly Tarlton Underwater Adventure. It was filled with some beautiful and interested aquatic life. Centered mostly on penguins. Here are some pics.

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Sunday, I spent at Waiheke Island visiting another winery, Stonyridge. Impressive place and they have to be one of the coolest wineries, bringing DJs from around the world for great outdoor parties. Need to come back for one of those.

Otherwise, I’ve just been enjoying Auckland and slowing down a bit. Today I’m on the search to find something to wear to the taping of the Ellen Degeneres show on Tuesday, which coincides with the same day of my big birthday. Awesome.

Wheels up later today for LAX. Thanks so much New Zealand. See you again soon!

Can’t even describe today…but I’ll try.

Before I get to today, let me catch up a bit. After leaving rainy Wellington, I went to sunny Hastings to meet up with another winery. This time it was the awesome team at Trinity Hill. They were a great bunch and their wines are fantastic. Have to try some more when I get home.

Included in that stop in Hastings was a great home cooked meal from my new friends, Tessa, Stuart and Larissa, my good friend Brett’s sister. Had a great night with them and made a new special little friend in Larissa. Thanks!

It was then time to say good bye to Hastings and head off to Rotorua for my next big adventure, and boy what an adventure it was.

Today was my day to go Black Water Rafting in the caves of Waitomo. It was incredible to say the least. This was a true test of me pushing my limits. Once we had our wetsuits, helmets with lights and the rest of the gear on, we made our way to our start/entry point. Thanks to my niece I went for the more adventurous of the trips, which included abseiling, zip lining and climbing out of the caves through waterfalls.

We were not able to take cameras with us which made for a better day, so the photos I have on for the leaders and on a CD, so I will share those later.

But, here is the day. First we started with a 12 storey abseil down a black hole. That was the first thing of the day that I’ve never done before. With my fear of heights and other various fears, I was amazed how easy it ended up being. Once the whole group was done, it was time for a little zip lining in the cave in the pitch black. It was AWESOME! One of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

After our hard work, it was break time as our feet dangled over the edge of the ledge to the 3m drop to the water. A little hot chocolate and a snack.

Did I mention we were doing this to see glow worms? The most beautiful site. They just light up the caves with the glowing poop. Yes, that’s what glows. Their poop.

With break time over, time for the next fun challenge. Grab an inner tube, stand on the ledge, turn off all headlamps and jump. INCREDIBLE!

As we made our way down the caves while pulling of the rope, the glow worms were a site to behold. Such unique clusters of them. Like looking at clouds, you could make out shapes of the clusters. We also saw some other amazing formations.

Our way back down with the current, we linked feet under arms of the person in front of you, turned off the headlamps and relaxed through the sites of the glow worms.

After all that, the adventure was not over. Now it was time to get out of the caves. So why not do it by climbing through waterfalls. Put you foot here, then your hand there, then pull up. Oh ya and the water is falling over your feet, face etc. And also, crawl through small tunnels etc. you know something that you do everything Wednesday afternoon in the corporate world….

I know I have described my experience, but the feelings of joy and achievement are almost impossible to describe.

This day is definitely one of the highlights of this entire journey.

Pics will following as soon as I can. Thank you universe for this kind of beauty and these kind of days.

Goodbye south. Hello north.

I wrapped up my time on the south island yesterday. But not before I did a bit of work and met with a few wineries for my vblog that I’m doing for a wine website. I met with the great husband and wife team at Staete Landt Winery and Jane Hunter and team over at Hunter’s Wine. I won’t go into too much detail, as the vblog will come out after I return home. They were all lovely though.

I must also say that my accommodations in Blenheim, through was great. The couple were awesome. He’s an ex-rower, so lots to chat about and they were both lovely. Plus the most comfortable bed of my entire trip. Blenheim is a funny town though as it shuts down at 4pm. So funny.

My ferry ride from Picton to Wellington was good. It was cloudy, but still gorgeous going through the sound.


That’s me leaving the south island, which I loved. And here I am arriving at the north island. Which hope to love also.


Luckily that was yesterday, as a big storm has blown over from Australia and there are no ferries today. The wind gusts are getting up to 150km/h. Crazy. But since this is my only day in Wellington, the weather couldn’t stop me.

I started my day at the Te Papa Museum. Probably my only museum stop on this trip. It was interesting and a great place to wait out the storm for a few hours. They have a house that our can stand in that simulates an earthquake and also have an enormous squid on display. Plus much more.

By the time I was done there, the weather had calmed down a bit, so time to rush and get on the funicular up for a view of Wellington. Even with the bad weather, it wasn’t too bad. What do your think?


Decided to chance the weather and walk down through the botanical gardens. It was worth it and the rain didn’t return until I was almost back down.


That’s the day so far. Just chilling for a bit now and then sushi for dinner on a recommendation from my new friends in Blenheim.

One more thing, do you think I would look good in these shoes?