Bruce MacDonald, owner of Inland Air, may have not received $500,000 of funding from Canadian entrepreneur Jim Treliving through the CBC television series The BIG Decision, but regardless he’s ecstatic his business was exposed to countless Canadians.
“The north coast is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but it’s a hard life for the locals… They’ve lost a lot of tourism dollars, but there is hope on the horizon,” Treliving said on the show.
The episode stated Inland Air requested half a million dollars to transform into an Eco-tourism business, however MacDonald said when he applied for the show it wasn’t for money.
“We were looking at marketing and how to tap into markets. We got a lot out of it,” he said.
MacDonald told The Prince Rupert Northern View he’s not sure where the program got the million dollar deficit figure from, and to keep in mind The BIG Decision is a semi-reality program. He ensured Inland Air is in no danger of closing.
During the episode, Inland Air had to perform challenges given by Treliving, including finding a helicopter to lease so tourists could have better visibility and a more comfortable tour, and to improve the company’s branding to become more tourist-friendly.
Treliving sent up a marketing consultant from LYNK Marketing to help improve branding. A while later, MacDonald and Virginia Mcrae, Inland Air office manager, connected with consultants in Vancouver, where they shared new branding techniques such as a new website design concept, brochures, and company name.
Inland Air will slowly implement the changes, operating the sight seeing portion of the company under the suggested name, Spirit Wind Airways, before transitioning all of the business to the name.
Although Treliving was impressed with Inland Air’s improvements and success with the challenges, he chose not to invest.
“Hopefully all the changes they’ve made will improve their business. I wish them all the success in the world,” Treliving said at the end of the episode.
Despite not receiving funding, MacDonald said it was a positive experience.
“The crew was great to work with. Jim’s a really nice guy. It was a once in a life time experience,” he said.
MacDonald may not have been funded, but he got what he wanted. During filming, MacDonald and Mcrae got in touch with tour operators in the industry down south, creating contacts for the business. MacDonald said he’s also pleased with the advertising associated with being on a popular show.
“We got 22 minutes of national television play. We can’t buy advertising like that.”