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Meetings Industry Magazine
Susan Frei has been with the Canadian Tourism Commission for over 10 years working to develop the U.S. Insurance Meetings and Incentive business for Canada for the first 7 years out of her 10 year career with the CTC. She served on a six member Hospitality Board for FICP (Financial and Insurance Conference Planners) formerly known as ICPA (Insurance Conference Planners Association). Last 3 years with the CTC she served in the capacity as Director, International Meetings and Incentives working to develop the international meetings market for Canada focusing on France, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Prior to the CTC Susan worked for Travel Alberta International from 1998 to 1999 as the in-market Sales representative in the Washington Metropolitan area concentrating on the association and corporate markets. Susan spent 16 years with Canadian Pacific Hotels and Resorts, today know as Fairmont Hotels between the years 1982 to 1998 as Executive Director of their Global Sales Network.
As part of the Olympic Games tourism strategy, the CTC promoted Canada as a country with state-of-the-art media, convention, meeting and sports facilities and with experience executing world-class international events. Amongst the important achievements making an impact on the MICE industry are:
Refreshed tourism brand
The Olympic podium was the platform to advance Canada’s tourism brand internationally, adding depth and dimension to the country’s image as a premier tourism destination andfrom that came the promotion of Canada to the MICE market.
A new wing to the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Ottawa Convention Centre; a highway running between Vancouver and Whistler and a train running from airport to downtown Vancouver with a commuting time of only 15 minutes.
Behind the Scenes Programme
During the Games, the CTC hosted presidents, CEO’s and executive directors representing more than 12,000 business travellers in order to build high-level relationships with these influential senior executives and to show Canada as a first-rate meeting destination. CTC reinforced the message that “Canada has the infrastructure, quality and unique attributes to host the world.”
The programming gave the most senior meeting planning professionals and decision-makers a “Behind the Scenes” look at what it takes to host the world’s most high-profile and complex event. With the message, “If we can host an event of this calibre successfully, we are the perfect country to host your meeting/convention/event,” the CTC sought to market both Canada and the CTC as experts in the MC&IT realm.
The program was facilitated by one of the CTC’s strategic platform partners and as a result, participating clients received education credits to be applied toward industry meeting planning designations. The Behind the Scenes program was so successful that it has become an Olympic Legacy piece for the CTC and the Behind the Scenes format has been utilized with other significant events such as the G8/G20 Summit and the Toronto International Film Festival. To date, the CTC has secured almost $10 million in tentative business leads and $1 million in definite business for Canada.
Canada has consolidated its image as a first-class destination to host high profile sporting events
Montréal has been chosen as the host city of 15 major swimming events between 2011 and 2016, including Canada’s 2012 London Swimming Trials, the rigorous Canadian Olympic Swim Team selection meet for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Over the six-year period, Montréal will welcome competitors and visitors to the Canada Cup (2012–2016), the Nations Cup (2016), the Age Group Championships (2011, 2013, 2015), the Summer Nationals (2013, 2015), the Swimming Trials (2012, 2014), and the Eastern Canadian Championships (2013, 2016). This is the most important agreement between a sports federation and Montréal, not to mention that the 15 events will generate over 70,000 room nights in total.
The destination keeps enhancing its range of facilities – Opening of the Ottawa Convention Centre in April 2011 and Niagara Falls, Ontario which has also opened their new Convention Centre during the same month
The Ottawa Convention Centre (OCC), Canada’s most sophisticated conference facility, officially opened its doors recently on 12th April. A stunning modern design, situated in the midst of one of Canada’s most historic architectural landscapes has positioned the OCC as Ottawa’s new iconic building, with technological and environmental advances that could not have been achieved as recently as five years ago.
“As of today the OCC is holding space for more than 90 conventions up to the year 2015, and 10 per cent of these are international events that could not have previously considered Ottawa a viable meeting place due to a lack of suitable facilities,” said Patrick Kelly, President of the OCC.
The economic impact of meetings booked to date between 2011 and 2015 at the new OCC has more than doubled since last year. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or the total monetary value of all goods and services produced as a result of meetings currently scheduled to take place at the OCC, rose from a projected $63 million in June 2009 to over $200 million in December 2010. Employment impact is also expected to double from 1,200 to 2,900 jobs.
Vancouver set to maintain its position as a winning player
Vancouver is once again North America’s top destination for international meetings, according to a report released by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Each year, the association ranks cities based on the number of international meetings hosted in the previous year. Vancouver hosted 58 meetings in 2010, more than any other city in North America. The city tied for 33rd place with Santiago de Chile, surpassing renowned meeting destinations like Montreal, Washington and Chicago. The ICCA has ranked Vancouver as North America’s top meeting destination for more than three years.
2011 North America Outgames comes to Vancouver
Vancouver was in the sporting spotlight once again as host of the 2011 North America Outgames, from 25th to 31st of July. Up to 4,000 gay-friendly participants from around the world converged on the city for a week of athletic competition, workshops and partying. Among the 18 featured sporting events are familiar favourites like badminton, volleyball and swimming, while the range of less conventional offerings include poker, dragon boat racing and bowling. The event also featured a three-day human rights conference that focuses on critical issues affecting LGBT communities.
With the versatility of the venues and the commitment from the CTC to keep promotional efforts as a priority new leads are definitely expected to take place and increase the desire to bring meetings to Canada.
Susan Frei, Director, International Meetings and Incentives, Canadian Tourism Commission