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What’s new, Canada? An event planner’s update from across the pond

While the meetings and events industry has been stunted around the world this year, in most part, due to Covid-19, Canada has been laying the foundation blocks for a successful reopening.

M&IT takes a look at what’s new in Canada, what’s on offer to the creative meetings and events planner and when international live experiences might return.

“Business events will play a key role in our communities’ economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As to when will business events resume, our research is telling us that local meetings will return first, followed by regional, then national and finally international events,” Business Events at Destination Canada executive director, Chantal Sturk-Nadeau told M&IT.

“If Covid-19 has shown us anything, it is that we always need to be innovating. We recognise after five months of online events how important it is to meet in-person, to connect face-to-face, in real-time. It took a pandemic to realise that there is no one “best way” to create an event,” Sturk-Nadeau, continues.

“Once we can meet again safely with travel restrictions and gathering limitations lifted for in-person events, it will be more important than ever to consider the purpose of hosting live events and evaluate it against the organisation’s mission to answer the question: is the opportunity for learning, collaboration, and mission advancement best done online, or is it best done in person?

“If the answer is “in-person” Canada will be ready to welcome them.”

Taking a virtual tour:

Quebec City recently hosted a successful virtual educational tour to show event planners what’s on offer around the city and what’s new.

In addition to the virtual tour, the Quebec City team put together an example three-day itinerary to help guide viewers through what they were watching with additional information. The itinerary and subsequent virtual tour included ‘visits’ to the city’s landmarks, hotels and unique off-site venues and other intrigues for the planner.

You can watch the tour here:

Destination Toronto has also released a series of virtual tours to showcase its meetings and event offering from the airport to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre buildings.

Business events Toronto is even offering a selection of downloadable Zoom backgrounds, to really immersive yourself in the city – without stepping foot on a plane.

Investments

While venues across the globe shuttered their doors to the events community, with many transforming into make-shift hospitals, Calgary’s iconic BMO Centre took the opportunity to work on plans for a $500m expansion.

The expansion will increase its total floor space to approximately one million square feet, more than doubling its current capacity. It’s due to be completed in 2024 and will see the BMO Centre become the largest conference facility in western Canada, elevating Calgary to a top-tier destination for international meetings and conventions. See the proposed design here.

Across Canada to the east, Montréal has unveiled its latest strategic initiative aimed at shaping the convention centre of the future: a video and podcast studio designed for content creation as well as live and on-demand streaming.

The facilities will be made available to organisers looking to host hybrid events, both live and virtual, and to generate and capture engaging content.

A virtual incentive

Cantrav DMC has developed a series of destination experiences that allow groups to travel across Canada, online, in one day. Planners can pick from itineraries including a look at Toronto through the eyes of Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, an adventure into the untamed wilderness of Banff National Park with the grizzly bear researcher and wildlife photographer Reno Sommerhalder, or share a virtual dinner from the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology while chatting with Indigenous artists.

Each activity is paired with a meal, a custom piece of artwork, or an interactive Q&A session with the authors, artists, photographers.

But what about face-to-face?

While international borders remain closed, the team at Pacific Destination Services DMC are assisting domestic clients to safely meet in person. These experiences can be transferred to international groups when the time is right to visit again, most likely in smaller groups at first.