Corporate Meetings & Events

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Strategic Solutions for Today's Planner

Fall/Winter 2017


Inside this issue:

Destination Planning Guide Page 18


PM 40063056


One thing’s for sure — if you’re looking for a memorable, original, meeting or conference experience, you’ll get it here. Because in Edmonton you’ll find more than a meeting space, you’ll discover the ally you need to make your next gathering succeed. Let’s talk.


Hot topics and trends for Canadian meetings in 2018

By Yma Sherry





Maddy Marchildon



By Ben Moorsom

Using the power of story to forge an emotional connection

16 MEETING APPS Digital vs. Paper: Which one will win the battle of meetings communication?

By Phil Rappoport



Finding the perfect destination for the perfect event



By Helen Van Dongen

Mindful Meeting Choices: The details that make the difference


Marketing Makeover: Six marketing tips to promote your next event

By Brent Taylor



By John Santini



By Mariela McIlwraith



Inclusivity by Design: Creating the perfect environment for all meeting attendees

The F&B Challenge: Food trends, budget constraints and communication challenges keep F&B teams on their toes

Cargo Conundrum: What you need to know about shipping event materials

Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  3



Corporate Meetings & Events Volume 18 Number 2 Publisher Chuck Nervick Managing Editor Sean Moon Digital Media Director Steven Chester Senior Designer Annette Carlucci Web Designer Rick Evangelista Production Coordinator Danielle Stringer Circulation Yeshdev Singh Directory Manager Stephanie Philbin

Editorial Advisory Board Leanne Andrecyk, Managing Partner, ZED Events Sandy Biback, Principal, Imagination Meetings Lynda Hoff, Chief Strategist, LNH Strategic Event Management Ben Moorsom, President and Chief Creative Officer, Debut Group Joe Nishi, Regional Director, Meeting Encore Francis Pare, Account Manager, Zeste Incentive Martin Perelmuter, President, Speakers’ Spotlight Rita Plaskett, President, Agendum Inc. Brent Taylor, Principal, Timewise Event Management Inc. Angela Zaltsman, A to Z Event Management

For advertising information Contact Chuck Nervick 416-512-8186 ext. 227 Contact Stephanie Philbin 416-512-8186 ext. 262 For editorial enquiries Contact Sean Moon 416-512-8186 ext. 273 Printed and published two times per year by MediaEdge Communications Inc. Printed in Canada. Reprint permission requests to use materials published in Corporate Meetings & Events should be directed to the publisher. Circulation Inquiries 5255 Yonge Street, Suite 1000 Toronto Ontario M2N 6P4 416-512-8186 ext. 234 Corporate Meetings & Events is published twice a year. (Fall and Spring). Subscriptions rates: two years $35.00; one year $20.00; Single copy $12.00. USA: one year $35.00. International: one year $45.00. All prices include applicable taxes. The Annual Industry Source Book (Spring issue) Is included with every subscription. MediaEdge Communications Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher.

President Senior Vice President

Kevin Brown Chuck Nervick

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Many things have changed around the world in the last 12 months – from political upheaval to major economic and cultural change to technological advancements that seem to be occurring at an exponential rate. But through all these changes, businesses are growing, the North American economy has largely stabilized and the meetings industry continues to play a significant role in how people exchange ideas, either through face-to-face events or via the rapidly increasing number of digital channels. No mat ter what t y pe of meet i ng you a re planning, there will always be factors that form the foundation of your organizational efforts: Content, education and speaker programming, F&B offerings, venue selection and managing ever-tightening budgets, to point out just a few. And although this special annual Corporate Planning Guide issue of Corporate Meetings and Events has many of the above bases covered, we’ve also delved into several areas pertaining to meetings that are not often widely discussed. Starting with this issue’s cover story from senior industry leader Yma Sherry, who takes an in-depth look at what’s in store for meetings and events in 2018, to our Destination Planning section, which is jam packed with valuable information about a wide selection of locales and venues to help you create your next fabulous event, here are just a few of the many insightful features and articles you will find in CM&E: • How using the power of story can help establish an emotional connection with your audience and event attendees; • A look at the food trends, budget constraints and communication challenges that keep event F&B teams on their toes; • An analysis of which medium will win — digital or paper — in the battle of event communication; • Easy and practical ways to design more inclusive events by encouraging diversity, and making your events more accessible for people with disabilities; and • Top marketing tips to help promote your next event Of course, if you have any story ideas you’d like to see covered in a future issue of CM&E, feel free to reach out by email at or for sponsorship and advertising opportunities, contact our Publisher Chuck Nervick ( for more information. Until next time, enjoy the issue!

Sean Moon Managing Editor


Maddy Marchildon Present: Redstone Agency Inc. Past: Managing Matters Inc., University of Ottawa (Marketing Team, Faculty of Social Sciences) Expertise: Association and not-for-profit management Specialty: Board and committee management, volunteer and member engagement, CMS and website platforms, systems and processes management, change management Tell us about yourself: Since graduating from the University of Ottawa in 2010, I’ve worked with over 25 not-for-profit organizations located in Canada and internationally, in industries ranging from arts, to education, to law, just to name a few. I’m a regular blog contributor to I also sit on the Canadian Society of Association Executive’s Trillium Chapter Young Professionals Taskforce. I’m fluent in French, and enjoy writing in both national languages. I love to travel, attend festivals and be outdoors.

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Tell us about your work: A constant struggle in my line of work is trying to explain what I do! Since no two days are the same, and we never know when we will be learning a new industry or organizational structure, the best I can do is this – I work for an agency that manages small not-forprofit organizations (generally, professional associations). We run their “businesses” from A-Z – everything from planning conferences,


board and committee meetings, project planning, bookkeeping, strategic planning sessions, etc. I lead the association management department, so I oversee the organizations for which we provide association management services, our departmental team, and also lead some of our client portfolios.

How did you get to where you are today? It seems like most people sort of fall into association management, and my experience was no different. I got my first role as a client services coordinator through a bilingual job placement agency right out of university. I have been given many opportunities to learn, grow and ultimately apply my skills along the way, first in a coordinator role, then as a manager and eventually as a director. I have worked with so many great teams over the years, either within my organization, on a particular client, or with a board, and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without their mentoring and support. Why are you good at what you do? Generally our boards and committees are comprised of the most passionate people in their industry. I can get behind their mission and goals, no matter the industry, because I am motivated by passionate people who are driving their organizations forward. I like a fast-paced work environment and new challenges. I’m extremely resourceful, and know how to leverage my network. I’m also friendly and outgoing, and love a combination of interaction with stakeholders and working behind the scenes. What are some of the challenges you face? Lack of resources – in the not-for-profit world, we’re used to stretching small budgets and having to prioritize goals and objectives. This also sometimes means operating with fewer staff. I have had to get my feet wet in many different areas, take on roles outside of my job description, and get creative, but this has ultimately led to gaining more experience and learning new skills. Is there anything you would change in our industry, given the chance? Specifically in the not-for-profit meeting planning world, I’d say getting the word out about what a viable career option this is. It is unique is that you gain a lot of experience in various different areas – and fast. Association management in particular is also an untapped market for young professionals in Canada, and involves gaining cross-industry experience, working with

passionate individuals who love what they do, being valued for your expertise, making a difference, and last but not least, innovating and being creative. I believe in the Millennial generation and how valuable their contributions are to the workforce. By generating excitement from the young talent we work with, sharing our knowledge and experience, and helping to build a strong team of meeting and association management professionals, we can each actively contribute to succession planning in the age of Millennials.

What have been some of your biggest achievements? The first major contract that I helped get awarded to Redstone was a huge achievement for me. Being a key player in the process from start to finish in terms of completing a proposal, going through a series of interviews, and working on negotiations for contract signing, to now having worked with them for a period of time and seeing how far we’ve taken the organization has been amazingly rewarding. Prior to that, I’ve received two industry awards – the Donna Mary Shaw Award from the Canadian Society of Association Executives in 2014 and the Top Forty Under 40 Award from the Association Forum and USAE Weekly in 2015. Receiving validation from the industry has given me the confidence I need in order to continue to develop my abilities and help more organizations achieve their goals. What do you like best about the meetings industry, particularly in your region or city? Generally what I love about the meetings industry is that it is so diverse. I meet people from all walks of life in this business, and no two meetings are the same. It makes every day different, and I’m always learning and taking in new experiences. I’m based out of Toronto, so I’d have to say that, while a lot of the work we do is remote, it is nice to have a central hub with a large population where we can do a lot of our business in person, as well as attend a number of industry events ourselves and meet other professionals. However, I love to travel, so I’d never say no to the opportunity to see a new city!

Who are some of your notable clients? I work directly with the International Pension and Employee Benefits Association (IPEBLA), the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) and the Professional Standards Board for the Planning Profession in Canada (PSB), for which I am the Executive Director. How do you deal with the challenges of work-life balance? It was several years into my career, and suffering from major burnout, before I fully understood the importance of having a work-life balance. I’ve since learned that when I feel too tired to think clearly, or simply experience a lull, it’s best to get up and do something else or temporarily switch off. Sitting at your desk being unproductive is a waste of your time and company time. I’m also lucky enough to work in a very open environment, so when I’m feeling overwhelmed I communicate with the co-owners of Redstone. We’re all human, and we look out for one another. I’ve also become much better at prioritizing – in my work life as well as my personal life – so I always make sure there is time for the things that matter most to me. I use just one calendar for both my work and personal life, so I literally schedule things in like family gatherings, hangouts with friends, workouts, etc. What are some of your most memorable events and why? One of my most memorable events was a multi-day conference, where the onsite team I was working with had come in just a few months ahead of the execution of the event to take over from the previous planning team. Planning was way behind schedule, and we didn’t have the onsite support required to execute such a large scale event. Our team of three managed to pull off an amazing conference by banding together – it was such a bonding experience for us to rally together and get the job done. We were running pillar to post for about seven days. It was the most challenging onsite experience I have ever had, but definitely one of the most rewarding as well. On the flip side, it also made me appreciate the value of our volunteers so much more! Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  7



Using the power of story to forge an emotional connection By Ben Moorsom With the IMEX focus being on purposeful meetings this year, it was apparent, after attending many sessions and talking with all sorts of folks in our industry, that if we’re going to engage our audiences we must be really strategic with events and meetings.

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BUILDINGBUZZ When we architect experiences, we can better shape event design and flow in order to improve many areas of an event – including engagement, retention, restoration, u nderst a ndi ng, energ y a nd beyond. Neuroscience and psychology can play a significant role in the overall success of an event and the positive influence to the return on investment. I sat in on a number of sessions that were relying on technology to help promote engagement. Apps such as were being used to generate audience feedback, to drive the presentation flow, and to engage with attendees in a more dynamic way. In most cases, they seemed to be working. But why? What is it about these tools that are working to get people engaged and interested?


We know people are distracted. I’ve written about this topic before. We’re all suffering from what’s been called “cognitive backlog.” Essentially, if you picture the brain as a glass with all sorts of beverages being poured into it, at some point the glass will become full and start to overflow. Our brains are at capacity and can’t possibly hold all the information being poured into them. That’s why the science behind “The 10-Minute Rule,” written by Dr. John Medina, makes sense. As Medina says, “before the first quarter-hour is over in a typical presentation, people have usually checked out.” Between the natural rhythm of the brain that seems to shift focus every 10 minutes or so and all the technological distractions we’ve become addicted to, attention has become a highly valuable commodity. T he bra i n ca n on ly hold so much information and once full, information will begin to spill out. Therefore, the brain is like a dam and as event professionals, we need to relieve pressure and manage flow.


One thing science has shown us is that storytelling is a proven way to capture and hold people’s attention. The more we’re able to use stories to forge emotional connections with our audience, the more likely they are to remember what we tell them. These engagement apps when used effectively are taking storytelling one step further. Beyond the way you tell a story, another element we now must keep in mind is whose voice is being represented and whose is being left out? I would arg ue that when it comes to business communications, one-way storytelling, whereby the presenter presents

and the audience listens, is no longer the best way of doing things—at least not all the time. What’s missing from this type of ‘sage-from-the-stage’ presentation is twoway dialogue. The goal, in moving beyond traditional presentations, is to bring to the forefront the thoughts, opinions, and ideas of others, and let them fill out your story in unexpected and invaluable ways. The best ideas and the greatest inspiration, we’ve found, tends to come from co-creation and collaboration — even creating the perception of this. Think about it, when you hold a meeting, train a group of people or engage your customers or employees, are you talking at them or communicating with them? You will be surprised how many of us still talk at people. The difference is more significant than you might think.


Why do you think social media was so easily integrated into mainstream communications and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast? These platforms not only encourage individuals to tell their own stories, through writing, photos, or curated content, but also welcome, and promote, dialogue, comments, sharing, and engagement. For the most part, humans are social creatures who live for feedback and thrive on the feelings of connectedness they get from engaging with others. Harness that in your own communications strategies, make it known that you welcome, even encourage, dialogue, and suddenly your stories will become increasingly powerful. This is what apps like and pigeon hole® Live, Crowd Mics are accomplishing with meetings and events. They are allowing for real-time, mobile Q&A sessions and audience interaction— making the audience voice part of the presentation, rather than an after-thought. In the event business, we typically take an audience poll before an event, and use some of that information to guide our presentations, discussions, and events. Or worse, we poll the audience after the event when it’s too late to really impact the outcome of the current event. What I believe is most effective is to allow our presentations and meetings to be led, in part, by the audience.


What many find counterintuitive about this type of presentation is that it seems to

require less work up-front by the presenter. Not true. In fact, as a presenter the way you prepare is different. You may not be spending time building slides, but like a Presidential debate you need to spend time preparing yourself for all the questions that may come your way. No longer can you rely on a deck of perfectly crafted slides and speaker’s notes. If you’re going to involve your audience in your presentation you’re going to have to leave more blanks than you may be comfortable with. A carefully crafted presentation or story, where you answer all your own questions, doesn’t leave any room for dialogue. Write the outline of your story and leave lots of space for the people you’re meeting with or presenting to, to fill in the blanks. Let your story evolve as your presentation or meeting unfolds. This transforms audiences into participants. It is a dance. An audience-guided presentation may look something like this. Start with a prepared introduction on your topic. Then consider pre-selected categories that your audience can vote on or rank. This will help drive which topics you discuss first, or at all. You can have slides related to those topics ready—if you want. Or, after the introduction you could throw to a live Q&A where a digital wall reveals the questions to the audience. Audience members can vote for the questions from fellow audience members to push them on the list of interest and priority. In doing this, you’re leveraging the power of choice. You are giving your audience voice where they feel like their questions are being heard and answered. Engagement increases because the outcome of the presentation is no longer dependent on the presenter. It is dependent on the co-creation of the presenter and the members of the audience. The presenter only facilitates the dialogue and provides their insights on the topic the audience is curious about. Ben Moorsom is President and Chief Creative Officer at Debut Group, an agency that specializes in corporate business communication and events across North America. Since 1997, Debut has pioneered new ways of delivering content and has designed and developed the art of Neuroscaping™ events. For more information on how Ben and his dynamic team of communication and production veterans deliver better results by producing bold creative that is strategically grounded, emotionally engaging, and flawlessly delivered to meet any clients budget visit Debut at Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  9



Québec City is an event planner’s dream destination. It ranks first among Canadian destinations for a second year in a row according to Travel + Leisure - World’s Best Awards 2017. And the reasons are compelling! Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Leading Culture Destination (supported by The New York Times), Québec City celebrates its heritage as much as it embraces innovative ideas. Known as the birthplace of French civilization in North America, Québec has both preserved and reinvented itself for more than 400 years, which is why it stands at the leading edge of technology, fine art, gastronomy and style. It remains a preferred meeting and convention destination that attendees love to discover! With more than 17,250 rooms available and over 795,000 sq. ft. of versatile meeting, exhibition and convention space, Québec City offers the perfect venues for all of your needs.


Want to be right in the action? The Québec City Convention Centre is located in downtown Québec and is surrounded by restaurants, hotels, unique and breathtaking off-site venues and world renowned attractions. The Convention Centre is a meeting planner’s dream with close to 300,000 sq. ft. of flexible space and a knowledgeable team of event specialists. To start planning your meeting in Québec City, visit :




FORECAST Hot topics and trends for Canadian meetings in 2018 By Yma Sherry

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A few weeks back, American Express Meetings & Events released the highly anticipated 2018 Global Meetings & Events Forecast. Now in its seventh edition, the Forecast aims to help meeting professionals and executives strategically direct and make effective use of their meeting investment to demonstrate the value of managed corporate meetings programs.

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Looking ahead to 2018, the meetings and events industry is thriving. We’re seeing steady and increasing investment driven by increased competition for global market share, and robust investments and consolidation across the industry. Across the globe, the continued localization of meetings programs will be a key trend next year, as meeting professionals seek to add flexibility and nuance to offerings that address specific market needs. As meetings are more frequently being recognized as growth enablers within organizations, there is ongoing opportunity for the meetings and events industry to create value and expand its impact and reach, which will help fuel innovation and further investment. Prevalent themes in this year’s Forecast that are of particular interest include the growing importance of Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) and benchmarking, as well as the link between compliance and security. Attendee engagement and tech-driven experiences will also continue to dominate conversations next year.

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Meetings and events are increasingly at the forefront of how companies promote themselves, their products and their services. Establishing a meetings strategy is a critical first step toward gaining visibility and consolidating meeting spend. For this reason, the role of Strategic Meetings Management Programs (SMMP) within corporations is continuing to gain momentum in Canada and will continue to do so into 2018. Stemming from this heightened awareness, companies are beginning to recognize the importance of evaluating and quantifying the effectiveness of meetings and events for their company’s growth, leading to a greater interest in benchmarking. However, because no two events are alike, and with so many elements at hand, benchmarking meetings and events is not easily done. Despite these challenges, companies should be thinking about utilizing benchmarking to ensure they are maximizing their return on investment. A time over time analysis allows companies to identify patterns and possibly compare with other companies to remain competitive in their industry.


Our research indicates that advisory and incentive meetings are expected to account for 20 per cent of meetings activity in Canada in 2018, which is much higher than the U.S. This growth suggests that Canadian businesses are interested in driving growth and increasing their revenue in 2018, a positive indication for Canada’s economy. As meeting owners are prioritizing attendee experience and engagement over scale, we also expect to see shorter, more focused meetings. The Forecast indicates a trend toward localization. Even corporations with global SMMPs acknowledge that business happens locally. In Canada, for instance, taxes and bylaws differ from province to province. A Vancouver-based meeting planner may not be mindful of some of the important nuances that come into play while planning an event in Montreal. It has always been a good value for businesses in both Canada and the U.S. to host meetings in Canada. With the favourable exchange rate and uncertainty across the border, we expect that more U.S. corporations may consider meeting locations in Canada.



Terrorism, weather events, and political unrest highlight the need for employees and meeting attendees to follow processes for booking and documenting travel. It also means meeting owners and planners need easy, comprehensive access to traveller information, so they can help identify and mitigate risk when emergencies arise. Attendee security remains top of mind for meeting planners and owners. Safety drives decisions around mode of transportation, destination, property type, and meeting activities, and shapes meetings and events policy and programs. Safety and security have always been at the heart of risk management policies. As the risk of political or economic uncertainty in a region increases, companies are recognizing the importance of implementing meetings and events policies and overall compliance. Scrutiny of security measures at venues is also becoming increasingly more intensive. While we, along with our hotel partners, have always had strong security measures in place, the focus on preparedness is much higher than in previous years. There is a growing trend for companies to send planners to hotels to assess security measures before contacts are signed. Additionally, it has become common practice for organizations to send corporate security to any meeting with (usually) 40 or more attendees, a practice historically reserved for large-scale meetings only.


In 2018, we expect that technology will continue to make an impact on the overall end-to-end management of the delivery of meetings and events. Today’s meetings attendees expect there to be an online experience available to enhance their face-to-face experience. They are eager to deploy technologies that facilitate personal


event attendance goals, such as networking and interacting more deeply with content. Globally, technology is continuing to impact meetings and events in positive and interesting ways. The rising prevalence of facial recognition, for example, will benefit the audience experience. Success begins with getting to know your audience members; what motivates them, what makes them engage, or disengage. Facial recognition technology allows us to get to know attendees and tailor event designs to create meaningful, personal connections with each attendee. This will ultimately help drive behavioural change and create greater value for your business. The rise of mobile apps is another element in meetings technology that is continuing to evolve in interesting ways. Mobile apps at meetings and events are becoming more and more mainstream. Attendees value personal relationships, and mobile apps allow them to seek out ways to make meaningful connections that can help them achieve their goals. Since engagement goes beyond faceto-face conversations, mobile apps provide attendees the ability to engage with others through a digital platform and continue the conversation, even after an event ends.

The success of any event hinges on the attendee experience. You want attendees to be enthusiastic about coming, to be engaged while they’re there, and to leave feeling that their experience was worthwhile. Meeting owners and planners are increasingly working to find creative and cost-effective ways to enhance the attendee experience, incorporating pre-meeting prep work and post-meeting knowledge checks rather than extending the length of the event. The 2018 Forecast suggests that an emphasis on providing unique, curated, local experiences at meetings and events will continue to grow. Bringing experiences onsite saves transportation costs and ground time for attendees. Plus, it allows company budgets to be more reasonable since it prevents them from having to send employees to multiple locations though out a meeting or conference. It’s no secret that a major topic of conversation following a meeting or conference amongst attendees is the food, an important contributor to the overall event experience. We have already seen a shift in the food available at meetings and events from rich, heavy offerings to lighter, simpler and wholesome offerings that tend to appeal to a wider range of varying dietary needs. The desire to create unique experiences has led to an increased demand for unique properties. The use of non-traditional space represents a small portion of the overall property demand across regions, but this demand is expected to rise and outpace growth in demand for other property types. While the complexity of meetings and events might be growing, meeting planners are excited about the “unique” factor. Many see the need to match non-traditional meeting spaces with increasing client demand for unique venues as a particularly exciting development moving forward.


While there are many geopolitical influences that will continue to evolve and create uncertainty, the outlook for 2018 is very optimistic. An increased focus on attendee experience and strategically managing meeting investments will continue to drive the Canadian industry forward. Yma Sherry is Vice President North America, American Express Meetings & Events. For more information, email Yma at Yma. Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  15


DIGITAL VS. PAPER Which one will win the battle of meetings communication? By Phil Rappoport

Could the fun and age-old “selection game” of Rock-Paper-Scissors become “App-Paper-Scissors?” Which one would top the other in a one-on-one duel by meeting professionals and their delegates? Can the app and a pair of scissors turn paper into shreds, or will paper still have a place? Judging by the surge of mobile app usage in the meetings and events industry over the past five years, one would think that apps are clearly in the driver’s seat and paper is being phased out. Industry surveys back up the dramatic rise. According to the Event App Bible 2017, published by Event MB, 76 per cent of event professionals intend to provide an event app for their delegates within the next 12 months.


So, what reasons do meeting professionals have for providing an app and reducing the amount paper generated for a meeting? • Sustainability and the entire recycling movement promotes a healthier environment. Many organizations feel that reducing or eliminating paper is a reflection of their core values. • The cost savings when compared to design, printing, collating, and shipping paper materials. 16 |

• The lack of utility when a meeting agenda changes. • The convenience of a pocket-friendly app versus the paper program as a reference tool: Will it be used frequently or will it sit on a bookshelf (or worse, be discarded)? • An app clearly can deliver more engagement through conversations and multimedia than a print guide. But not everyone is quick to dismiss paper and printed program materials. Some meeting organizers feel that a print program is the truest tangible record of a meeting taking place; it’s something you get when you arrive, you can leaf through it at your leisure, and you can write in it, such as in the margins or on printed PowerPoint presentations or abstracts.


For event sponsors, a full-page ad in a program is a lot larger than a full-page ad on an app, in which type size and copy length

are hard to come by. Event sponsors and advertisers have revered traditional print programs, because it’s a large-scale way of having their brands associated with the conference. Conversely meeting organizers have already created a predictable ad-revenue “machine” with their printed program. They’ve grown accustomed to selling ad space in print and haven’t ventured into the digital realm incorporating apps. When weighing digital versus print, some meeting planners have arrived at their conclusions. “We use a mobile app for about five of our events (per year),” says Emily DeYoung, Senior Director of Educational Events for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in Washington, D.C. “Depending on app adoption we have started to evolve our print program. In two of our five conferences we have done away with the print program and give attendees a one-page schedule at a glance.”



Jennifer McNally, CEO of Communication Counts, a Virginia-based meeting planning agency, believes that cost definitely has a role. “Over the past 5-10 years, I have seen the need for multiple print pieces for each meeting reduced when we include a meeting app as well,” says McNally. “The two can work in tandem, but you need to be smart about your print budget.” When both the app and print programs are used for the same conference, planners offer their views on how and why they can co-exist. “In the conferences where we still have both, it has more to do with the audience,” says DeYoung. “Only one of the conferences that has both has a comprehensive, fullcolor printed program. The other events have less expensive and more simple conference programs. The makeup of our audience (mostly Baby Boomers) is the primary reason we still have the program for that event but we do also like the staying power of a physical notebook.”


Samantha Chow, events coordinator for Toronto-based Managing Matters, points to a comfortable co-existence without having to choose one over the other. “In cases where we have introduced an event app, we have chosen to keep the print program also,” says Chow. “In order to keep from changing things too much, we offer them both, and delegates can choose what they prefer, especially in the first years of the app. It’s not necessarily a cost savings, but we find the response is better from delegates if they have a choice. This does allow for more sponsorship options, as we can offer splash pages and rotating banners in the app and a page or a half page in the print program.” Yet others have taken a harder look at paper, and have found ways to simplify what they print and even when they make a print piece available. “We provide very little in the way of printed material now with the advent of our app,” says Donna Jarvis-Miller who serves as Director, Membership and Events for the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) in Washington. “We transitioned by printing the program book for the first year and have moved to a simple agenda-at-a-glance (AAAG) schedule which we copy in-house prior to going to the meeting for those members who still wish to have something tactile. We do produce a

legal conference which requires a document with the full speaker bio and session description. We create a PDF ‘program’ that contains exactly what they need and email it to attendees, post-conference.” McNally also found success with an at-aglance print piece and tied it to an essential conference item. “I have seen some cost savings because we eliminated one item every meeting needs: a separate badge holder!” says McNally. “The product we use combines a badge holder, which nearly all meetings need, with an agenda at-a-glance. Attendees have loved the combo product. Since attendees wear the product, they are less apt to forget their printed agendas in their hotel room, and I try to include additional information not on the app in the printed material to differentiate it.”


A generational preference is clearly visible, says McNally. “Generally, the older demographics prefer having something tangible they can write on and that gives them room locations. Having the app allows for up-to-date schedule changes, which also eliminates the copious amounts of printed papers at the information/registration desk. I can send out timed notifications via the app so people are aware of where they need to be at any given time.” What about sponsorship revenue? Can an app attract sponsors and wean them from the print they’ve become accustomed to? Many savvy planners point to the statistics that an app provider can deliver, such as page views, clicks, and engagement between exhibitors and delegates. Print programs essentially deliver circulation, and unless there’s a special offer that’s only mentioned in a print ad, or if an ad is on the inside or back cover, it’s difficult to tell if an ad was ever read. “Our sponsors have adapted well to having their brand in electronic form,” says Jarvis-Miller. “We have one company who underwrites the app and renews before the next year without hesitation. We still do recognition on-site with signage and in sessions.” In talking with planners, some organizations and associations have turned the app from a cost centre into a profit centre. An app can accommodate multiple — and even rotating — sponsors with a variety of ad types, such as banners at the top of menus or full-page ads.

So how does a meeting planner go about making a decision regarding digital vs. print?


CASE’s DeYoung points to a wellthought-out conversation among the organization and its delegates. “Understand your audience and the right pace of change for your group,” she says. “It’s going to be different for everyone. Be patient with the process and include as many people as is appropriate on your team. Having that input at the beginning may allow you to distribute the app workload similar to other promotional items. In our case, when we did away with the print program, which is typically produced by our marketing department, we did not transfer the app production to our marketing team, adding work to our events team. That’s a challenging situation I’m still working to rectify.” Meeting planners who have had to weigh the app vs. print comparison agree on an essential rule: Know the audience and understand the sector. Chow’s agency looks at demographics and psychographics. “Are they tech savvy? Are they reluctant to change? If the app is popular, then it’s a fantastic sponsorship opportunity and a great way to encourage more engagement from attendees.” Jarvis-Miller acknowledges that a sector that depends heavily on paper will have a more difficult time transitioning. “Meet them in the middle by providing a simple AAAG (At-AGlance Guide) which gives them the time, session name and room. Don’t be afraid to share the cost savings and how you are parlaying the savings into the education programs or other networking opportunities for them. After all, you are spending their dues and it shows you are being fiscally responsible with their investment in their association.” With the rise of the app, there are still plenty of examples of apps and paper programs still co-existing side by side. And both can agree: Beware of the scissors! Phil Rappoport is vice president, sales and marketing for the AgendaPop Mobile Event App, which supports conferences around the world. He can be reached at Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  17


DREAMS Finding the perfect destination for the perfect event




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Meeting and event planners know that any successful event demands that a number of key factors come together in perfect harmony – networking opportunities, event programming, food and beverage, educational sessions, accommodations and off-site activities, to name a few. But for most events, success starts by first choosing the optimal event destination and venue that meets the needs of planners and delegates alike. Fortunately, Canadian corporate meeting planners have countless amazing options available to them when it comes to choosing their next event destination. Whether you’re focused on creating a feeling of rest and relaxation or an environment of big-city sophistication, Canadian meetings destinations and venues have it all. From a lobster dinners in the Maritimes to a day on the slopes in the Canadian Rockies, meeting planners have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fulfilling their event destination needs. With each destination featuring its own unique style and flavour, deciding on your next meeting destination may be one of the most challenging projects you’ll take on this year! Check out our special Destination Planning section the following pages of CM&E for some great ideas on choosing the best destination for your next successful event.


BUSINESS DESTINATION! Known for their exceptional quality of life, Gatineau and the Outaouais region have a lot to offer. When it comes to business destinations, Gatineau, in Canada’s Capital Region, is right up there with cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

Boasting an ideal combination of natural beauty and urban development, downtown Gatineau is conveniently located. Within walking distance of each other are Canada’s most visited museum, the largest convention centre, countless fine restaurants, friendly microbreweries, and a fully renovated hotel complex. And if you take one of the recreational pathways along the Ottawa River, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa!

A few minutes from the downtown core, the Hilton Lac-Leamy forms part of an entertainment complex that includes the Casino du Lac-Leamy, the Théâtre du Casino, a conference centre, a luxury spa, heated indoor and outdoor pools, and four restaurants (including one rated Five Diamonds, one of only a few in Quebec). It’s truly a top-notch hotel complex! When you choose the Outaouais as your business destination, you’re choosing a wide

range of conveniently located attractions. Gatineau Park, for instance, with its 361 square kilometres of unspoiled nature and hundreds of bike and ski trails, is just two kilometres from the Palais des congrès de Gatineau convention centre. Nordik SpaNature, North America’s largest spa, is less than 15 minutes from downtown. The diversity and proximity of the region’s attractions make it an ideal destination for event planners. There’s something for everyone, from nature lovers to foodies, golfers to culture and history buffs. To help you choose among all these options, Annie, our destination specialist, is on hand to guide you! She’s ready and willing to help you at every step of your planning process. Do you want your event to stand out from the rest? Are you looking for ideas for original team-building activities your colleagues will remember for a long time? Annie can help you choose all the elements for a unique and memorable event. She’s your #1 “go-to” person for everything related to business travel in the Outaouais! So remind me: when are we meeting in the Outaouais?

Contact information: Annie Léveillée Phone: 819 778-2530 Ext. 236 Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  19




Whether you’re hosting a working lunch, team building offsite, product launch or gala event, The Rec Room offers a variety 60,000 SQFT of unique event spaces, all under one roof! Combine those with our massive entertainment areas Canadian-inspired cuisine, and gaming options ranging from classic ping pong to state-of-the-art virtual reality, and60,000 your event will be like+nothing SQFT CANADIAN INSPIRED CUISINE you’ve hosted before. With our onsite professional event planner ready to assist, you can be sure you’ll have everything to pull off your most epic event yet. With flexible space suitable for private meetings, 60,000 large groups, luncheons, team SQFT + CANADIAN INSPIRED CUISINE building, seminars or even full venue bookings, you’ve found your new go-to destination for turning your next meeting into an exciting and engaging event.








Redefine the meaning of fun when you plan your next event at The Rec Room. Whether you’re hosting a working lunch, team building offsite, product launch or gala event, The Rec Room offers a variety of unique event spaces, all under one roof! Combine those with our massive entertainment area, Canadian-inspired cuisine, and gaming options ranging from classic ping pong to state-of-the-art

HOST BETTER EVENTS Redefine the meaning of fun when you plan your next event at The Rec Room. With up to 60,000 sq. ft. of entertainment space, Canadian-inspired dining, and gaming options ranging from shuffleboard to the latest virtual reality, it’ll be like nothing you’ve hosted before. With our onsite professional event planner always ready to assist, you’ll have everything you need to pull off your best event yet.


Take the hassle out of planning your next event. For a preview of our offerings visit

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® Cineplex Entertainment LP or used under license.

HAMPTON INN & HOMEWOOD SUITES AND CONFERENCE CENTREDOWNTOWN HALIFAX Centrally located in downtown Halifax, this dual-branded property offers easy access to major corporate headquarters as well as shopping, dining and entertainment. Some highlights include a Conference Center, 24-hour business center, indoor swimming pool and a gym.

Hampton Inn’s guest rooms are equipped with modern amenities including 42-inch LCD TVs and comfortable Hampton beds®. This new hotel also features Hampton’s Perfect Mix Lobby, designed for both leisure and business travelers as an extension of their guestroom. Homewood Suites provides travelers amenities and services that maximize their travel budget, including free Wi-Fi, daily breakfast and evening social Monday through Thursday. In addition, Homewood’s guest suites boast fully equipped kitchens, separate sleeping and living spaces, and grocery shopping services– all amenities that enable travelers to feel at home.

Contact information: Hampton: 1-855-331-0334

Homewood: 1-855-331-0337

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CROWNE PLAZA GATINEAU-OTTAWA So Much More than a meeting Planning a meeting in the National Capital region? Scouting for the ideal location and looking for great value? Only minutes away from downtown Ottawa on the island of Hull, the Crowne Plaza Gatineau-Ottawa provides an inspiring environment for any conference, meeting or special event. Our team of professionals will assist you in delivering a successful meeting, big or small.

• 224 spacious guestrooms including 12 suites • 12 meeting spaces totalling 15,040 sq. ft. • No minimum requirements for both guestrooms or meetings • Full service hotel • Complimentary Wi-Fi • 24h business centre • Meeting packages

• Salt-water lap pool & 24h gym • IHG Business Rewards • Open booking windows, easiest place in town to get what you need

Contact information: Nathalie Tremblay, CMP Director of Sales Phone: 819-778-3040 ext. 202 Email: Toll Free: 1-800-567-1962

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CENTRE MONT-ROYAL WE ARE CENTRE MONT-ROYAL, a conference and special events centre in the very heart of Montreal’s downtown neighbourhood known as the Golden Square Mile. Opened in 2000, Centre MontRoyal has recently gone through a complete make-over and it feels so good. Some things have not changed. CMR is still a fully ergonomic environment with the highest air quality which keeps guests refreshed through long meetings and presentations. Our 8 hour chairs provide complete comfort while our tables are laminate surfaced and non reflective. We are an IACC accredited facility which means we follow an exacting standard in conferences. WE ARE DIVERSE Centre Mont-Royal offers you 17 meeting spaces and can accommodate from 10 to 900 guests including a state-of-the art 730 fixed seats and tiered theatre for guest speakers, performances, a plenary, award ceremonies and just about anything where a stage is needed. The acoustic quality of our theatre is outstanding and every seat is a great seat with no columns to block views. Every audio visual need can be provided. Other meeting areas include break out rooms, 3 large meeting rooms that can be divided and multi functional spaces with panoramic windows. We can accommodate your specific meeting needs.

house catering team led by Executive chef, Yves Malenfant. Chef Yves and his brigade are committed to thrill guests with gastronomic menus suitable to your budget. The entire catering team is efficient and on time as only those in the meeting industry can appreciate. As important as the meetings are, at CMR we understand that it’s the food people will remember first. From breakfast to breaks to gala dinners, our catering brigade will delight your guests. WE WORSHIP THE SUN AND THE PLANET Centre-Mont-Royal has abundant natural light from floor to ceiling windows and when the season permits, guests can enjoy our outdoor terrace. Centre Mont-Royal has the utmost respect for the environment and is committed to sustainability, awareness and environmental health. WE BELIEVE IN SERVICE Our professional team ensures an impeccable standard of service at every level. Dedicated event coordinators will guide you through the event process.

WE ARE FOODIES Centre Mont-Royal prides itself on the excellence of our in-

Contact information: Visit us at 2200 Mansfield, Montreal, QC H3A 3R8 514-844-2000 1-866-866-2200 Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  23



The details that make the difference

By Helen Van Dongen

Logistics are the bread and butter of a meeting planner’s diet. It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny objects of twenty-first century planning – event apps, virtual reality, meditation breaks – but it’s well-executed basics that allow those elements to augment the show. H av i ng at t e nde d my f a i r sh a r e o f conferences, I can attest that it’s the little things that make or break an individual pa r t icipa nt ’s exper ience. Request a vegetaria n meal a nd receive a surfand-turf plate instead, pick up your name badge and discover your surname misspelled, or review your trade show appoi nt ments a nd see you r request for Halifax resulted in a meeting with Hamilton, and you’ll understand that getting the simple elements right has the biggest impact on an event’s success. Blow the basics, and it won’t matter that your push-technology session reminders all went out on time. So, consider the meeting from the pa r t ic ipa nt 's poi nt of v iew. I wa l k through their experience from receipt of the save-the-date or invitation, through registration, preparation for the event, and each element of the onsite experience until they return home with the event behind them. It’s easy to think of these building 24 |

blocks as dull or uninteresting, but they only become so if you don’t consider how they’re integral to the structure of a successful conference. Let’s look at some examples to see how that’s true.


Recognizing that availability can trump all other considerations, particularly when lead time is a fraction of what you’d prefer to be working with, it’s incumbent on the planner to think carefully about what defines the ‘best’ location for any meeting. Busy planners can have more than a dozen open files on the go at any one time. As such, it’s easy to fall into the rut of calling the same go-to venues for every meeting that crosses your desk. A few moments’ thought might have you making a different plan. Where will your participants come f rom? If most a re f ly i ng i n a nd t he meeting is short (say, a day and a dinner the night before), perhaps an airport

proper t y w i l l save t hem t i me a nd your budget money, if you’d typically choose a downtown hotel. Can you consolidate spend at one venue? Rather than go offsite for an evening function, if you select a venue with a variety of outside-the-ballroom options (rooftop, pool deck, terrace), you might turn a ‘no thanks’ into a ‘yes please’ from the yield manager, eliminate the need for offsite transfers and be able to consider a venue you wouldn’t otherwise get into. Has your client told you, “We’re not [insert hotel brand here] people,” as once happened to me? Have them join you on a site at the property you’d like to recommend; their judgement may be based on years-old information or a negative leisure travel experience in a faraway city, and they might be persuaded if they see the venue (and the brand) through your eyes.


Rather than simply make the expected choice – banquet rounds for a dinner, for example – consider how the content or objectives for the function can inform the setup. Is the dinner being held in recognition of a retiring executive or group of award winners? Could you


locate a feature table in the centre of the room with pin-spot lighting, upgraded table décor, and enhanced service, so the honoured guests feel special and are located as close to as many other guests as possible? Do you want to bring a group of relative strangers together to build and grow relationships? What about tables of four, rather than the usual eights or tens, so everyone at the table can see and speak to one another? As Steven Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.”


As dietary preferences have inflated special needs lists – remember when they were only 10 per cent of attendees? – the basics of menu planning have become a minefield of potential difficulties. Add to that challenge the fact that F&B prices have jumped more than 25 per cent in the last three years, and managing meals has become f raught wit h di fficult y. W h o wa s it t h at de c ide d m e e t i n g participants needed to eat five times a day? (Who does that when they’re not at a conference?) Given how few people eat any breakfast – much less a hot one – most days of the week, what about just offering grab-and-go coffee, tea and green smoothies in the half hour before session s beg i n? (Be su re to ma nage expectat ions by let t i ng part icipa nts know in pre-meeting marketing, so your opening speaker doesn’t face a roomful of ‘hangry’ delegates!) Alternatively, if your participants do value breakfast, will they also need a food-laden break mid-morning, with a three-course lunch a mere 60 to 90 minutes later? Should you consider reducing the number of courses at lunch, or offering vouchers for use in the hotel’s outlets so participants can control the size and selection of their midday menu themselves? When you look at your F&B choices as whole, rather than as discrete functions, the picture can change.


It’s the default option to throw a screen (or two), a data projector, a lectern and a microphone in a meeting room. I might just have described every plenary and breakout session’s requirements at your last conference, workshop, seminar or gala dinner. The thing about AV equipment is that it’s supposed to support delivery of

the content at a meeting, rather than drive it. How large is the space you’re using? How many people will attend? How close will they sit to the action? What do you want the audience to focus on? If your speaker is dynamic and impactful, and the back row only 50 feet from the stage, do you need IMAG? Can your presenter speak in a compelling and memorable way without visual support? (To be fair, some can’t.) Do you want the audience to look at the individual on the stage or at a few bullet points on the screen? Can you do without a lectern? What if your presenters at the awards gala spoke behind a mic on a stand and used a confidence monitor or teleprompter, rat her t ha n h idi ng behind a lectern? (Think Hollywood award presentations, rather than the local service club.) I n s u m m a r y, i t ’s i m p o r t a n t t o disengage the autopilot when thinking about meeting logistics. It is possible to inject creativity into what seem like the most boring elements of planning. And creativity can look like less, rather

than more. Sometimes, departing from the usual choices can decrease your spend – or allow you to shift cost from one budget bucket to another. If you can make the usual steps fresh and new to you during the process, they’re more likely to feel fresh and new to the participants at your event. Helen Van Dongen, CMP, CMM, has event management experience spanning 27 years. Helen has served in leadership roles at a host of professional and financial services organizations, and lived the independent life for the last four years. Her experience in event strategy, design and execution has seen her work across Canada and around the world. A long-time member of meetings industry associations, Helen has served in senior positions on chapter, national and international boards. She has taught at international conferences, and co-written and edited industry textbooks. Helen continues to be sought after as a presenter at industry events and contributor to publications like this one. She can be reached by email at


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+1 520 544 5000 • • 10000 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ 85704

Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  25




Six marketing tips to promote your next event By Brent Taylor

Let’s talk marketing. It seems today that there is a plethora of marketing materials, opinions and experts advising us on how to best market any product or service we have to offer. Why is that? Why is there so much attention being given to marketing? I recently read Seth Godin’s books “All Marketers are Liars” and “Purple Cow.” I recommend both these books along with Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.” I was intrigued by what Godin identifies as a “post-consumer society.” This is the nature of the society we live in now where consumers no longer make purchasing decisions based upon what they want or need. They buy because of how the purchasing process makes them feel. This, coupled with the unlimited options and noise generated by competitors makes it incredibly difficult to draw attention to our own product or service. This new era has rendered traditional advertising and marketing techniques no longer effective. Buyers have been placed in the driver’s seat. The consumer decides who they are going to allow to market to them and how they are going to be marketed to. We have progressed beyond mass advertising campaigns. Marketers are using all sorts of methods to reach today’s consumer. They tell stories; the story of their organization, of the product and/or the people their product helps. They are engaging in gamification and creating experiential activities for their customers. They may also focus on social or environmental causes and the benefits of buying or using their product or service. 26 |

What does this mean for us as event professionals and for our events? Events require marketing, and because t hey re qu i re m a rket i ng we ne ed to adapt to ensure we can continue to fill seats. Budgets don’t always allow us to engage marketing firms thus we need to take the time to learn ever yth ing we can about marketing. We need to lea r n how to make ou r events more experiential. How to incorporate social a nd envi ron mental aspects. How to emotionally con nect to tell the story of our event and the difference it will make in the lives of our attendees. Over our years in event management, my team and I have identified several principles and best practices that help us move events forward. I would like to share some of these with you. Develop your Database –

Invest a lot of effort in building your database of prospects, past attendees and other stakeholders. Your database provides you with the ability to market directly to these individuals by email or phone. Direct marketing to this highly targeted database will be your greatest resource in driving attendance for your event.

With anti-spam legislation now in place, building a database takes time as individuals must grant you permission to use their email for marketing purposes. An effective way to obtain this permission is to have a field on your website where visitors can sign up with their email to receive ongoing updates and other event information. Maintain this even after registration opens as there will be those who do not plan to attend but still want to be kept current. Target Specific Niches

– O ne m a rket i ng message no longer speaks to all. Segment your target audience and determine which messaging will speak to each demographic. This will require multiple email marketing campaigns being run simultaneously, but allows you to deliver the messaging with the strongest call to action. We manage an annual sponsorship con ference with at tendees representing many different sectors. Our marketing communications to our potential municipality attendees needs to be quite different than our message to potential association

MARKETING attendees. By running separate campaigns we can better paint a picture on how our conference will impact them and their organization. Collaborate – Enough cannot be said about collaboration. We are in the age of collaboration and crosspromotion. This is evident all around us. We see Tim Horton’s selling Upper Deck hockey cards, Wal-Mart partnering with Mr. Lube and Star Wars with Lego. What organizations may have a stake in the success of your event? Can they

be more than a sponsor? Do they have a database that can be reached to help drive your attendance? Are you able to drive their membership up if they help drive your attendance? Are there any stakeholders that can benefit in co-hosting meetings or events in conjunction with yours? An example of this is Meeting Professionals International recently collaborating with the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence to launch the SITE + MPI Global Forum being held early 2018. Not only does this promote attendance, it saves on the cost of producing separate events. Make it Experiential – Create an engaging experience for your attendees. The sky is the limit as there are unlimited ide a s a nd r e s ou r ce s to enhance your event. Prior to your event, consider posting videos of your speakers and staff talking about the benefits of your event. Use scratch-and-win or other contests to deliver registration discounts. Interact with your attendees using gamification and audience participation tools. Popular right now are wireless Q&A microphones in a ball that can be tossed between attendees to ask their questions. If your budget allows there a many apps to deliver event content and contests where your attendees can earn points for engaging in activities. Exhibitors are no longer just handi ng out business cards a nd promot ional products. They are creating experiences in their booths to draw your attendees i n. Help your exhibitors find ways to create engaging experiences that are fun, entertaining and memorable. Feed the FOMO – You are likely familiar with the term FOMO (fear of missing out). This can be very effective in driving at tenda nce for you r event. As individuals, we inherently don’t want others to have the upper hand on us; to have a

coveted experience that we miss out on. FOMO finds its roots in social proof. This is where we assume those around us collectively possess more knowledge than us about an opportunity and that we could be incorrect in our assessment. In other words, we look to others in making our own decision to attend an event. It is important to facilitate discussion on social media prior to the event. The use of videos by your speakers, past attendees and your staff will help to shape your potential attendees’ perception and will feed the FOMO. Another option is to post feedback and social media posts on your event website. Get Creative with Incentives –

When it comes to incentives event professionals are very quick to consider utilizing discounts. These can be effective but makes it more difficult to meet our event budgets. Consider focusing more on value. As individuals, we make priorit y for and invest in what we value. When you effectively communicate the value in attending your event, the potential attendee will work hard to find the resources to attend. When you use discounts (such as an early bird registration) keep in mind that not every discount will speak to everyone. Again, this is why it is important to segment your marketing database. Offer customized discounts to each demographic of your target audience. These are just a few thoughts and ideas to help you market your next event. We are in an industry with so many resources for best practices and nothing surpasses the value in getting connected with other event professionals. Get involved with industry organizations like Meeting Profession a l s I nter n at ion a l (MPI), International Live Events Association ( I L E A), P r o f e s s i o n a l C o n ve n t i o n Management Association (PCMA) or the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP). Brent Taylor is a partner with Timewise Event Management and Event Technology Solutions based in Edmonton, Alberta. He has 24 years of experience as an event professional and is very active in helping advance the industry. He was recently appointed to the International Board of Directors for Meeting Professionals international (MPI). For more information visit Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  27



What you need to know about shipping event materials By John Santini

Like most people shipping to a trade show or conference, once your shipment leaves your premises you likely give little thought to its journey to your booth space in Canada. We’re just happy to see it there when we arrive! It is important, however, to understand what happens between points A and B to ensure your material makes it there, on time and during the move-in hours.


You would be surprised how many times your boxes, cases or crates are handled, loaded and unloaded while in transit to your event. People handling your multi-piece shipment in transit should easily be able to group together and identify your packages. Proper and correct labelling is of utmost importance, yet one of the most underrated priorities when shipping. Labelling clearly can make all the difference between receiving your material on set-up day or showing up to an empty booth. Nothing is more satisfying than setting up your exhibit space with no hiccups and then having a little extra time to hit up a new city’s sites! On the flip side, nothing is worse than watching your neighbours on the exhibit floor chat merrily as they set-up their materials while you are standing in an empty space. It can feel cavernous. Typically, your multiple journeys to the supplier service area will begin at this point. There is nothing particularly exciting or sexy about labelling your goods but when you are on the receiving end of mislabelled material 28 |

the hours spent locating the piece feel long.


Our Canadian show managers edit and proofread their exhibitor manuals with painstaking detail to try and avoid on site errors or delays. If by reading this article there is one tip that will help make or break your next event, please do not underestimate the power of labelling. I recommend you use the shipping address provided in your event exhibitor manual; but it is equally important to indicate your company name, booth number and event name! All too often it is the on-site handling crew tasked with finding out which event and what booth a box addressed to the attention of “John Smith” is for. As you can imagine, this is a difficult responsibility since some events have upwards of 5,000 attendees! If you are shipping to an advance receiving location, keep in mind that these warehouses hold material for several different events simultaneously so it is important to clearly indicate the event name. Similarly, when shipping directly to a convention facility, multiple events may be taking place at the same time, therefore proper labelling is the key to receiving your material in both scenarios.

Narrow down the margin of error. Find out the exact event name, warehouse cutoff dates, direct-to-show site address and label according to your transit time. These three suggestions make all the difference. Believe it or not, glue on labels is another important factor. Make sure the labels will stick and add plenty of them on your cargo pieces. Imagine you were sending your exhibit material to your own apartment, how would you address it? This is what I recommend: • Your company name and booth number • Name of event (not just the acronym but the entire name) • Advance warehouse address/or directto-venue address c/o Official Show Service Contractor • City, Country, Postal Code • Contact person who will be on-site with their mobile number


We have all heard the term “stuck” or “held” i n custom s but does a nyone k now what th is really means? Most people believe their material physically goes to a location between point A and B called Customs, where it is intensely i n spected a nd scr ut i n ized before it can be allowed entry in Canada. This is a common misconception. Typically, you r cou r ie r or t r uc k i ng compa ny hold s on to you r m ate r i a l i n t hei r bonded faci lit y u nt i l it is off icially custom s clea red. A bonded faci l it y i s wher e sh ipme nt s awa it c u stom s


clearance and most couriers and freight ca r r iers h ave such faci l it ies as pa r t of their network. In nine cases out of 10 the reason a sh ipment is held for customs clearance is due to the shipper/ e x h i b i t o r n o t h av i n g ap p o i n t e d a customs broker. Consulting a reputable, Licenced Event Customs broker prior to shipping will ensure your material does not get held-up and makes it to your event on t i me. You r custom s broker will guide and walk you through the paperwork required. Certain articles shipped across the border may require specific documentation and your broker will gladly advise you accordingly.

You have enjoyed a successful exhibition at the “BEST CANADIAN MEETING” and the last thing on your mind is your return shipment. Stranded freight, forced freight, re-routed freight, whatever the language you may hear, these are synonymous terms used to describe material to which improper or no return shipping arrangements have been made. You should try to avoid falling in the above category to prevent additional costs. Freight carriers or couriers that do not specialize in time-sensitive material are often not in tune with the nuances of exhibition shipments and frequently miss pick-up deadlines at an event move-out. Using the officially appointed shipping supplier makes sense as they are on-site during the event move-out which often tend to be outside business hours and on weekends. For the exhibitor, using the official supplier can be as simple as packingup, labelling your shipment and leaving it in your booth space. You are then free to leave the exhibition hall and catch that flight!

trade show and events customs broker will be aware of this necessity and will make all the arrangements for you. Customs clearance post event is one aspect that sets a Customs broker specializing in meetings and conventions apart from the rest. We understand that returning your material in a timely manner is as important as getting it to the event! John Santini is Director of Operations, ConsultExpo Event Services Inc. John holds his professional customs designation and has serviced the logistical needs (both customs and shipping) of countless events in Canada. For more information visit or contact John at; telephone: 514-482-8886 ext. 1.


Keep in mind that trade show and event customs clearance is a twoway street in that clearance is required back into the country or overseas. Many exhibitors forget that returning material to its country of origin requires customs clearance. Your

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Creating the perfect environment for all event attendees By Mariela McIlwraith

As event planners and designers, we create the environment in which our participants live, learn, share and innovate. In creating these environments, we have an opportunity to design them to be welcoming, inclusive and accessible in a way that encourages full and dignified participation for all. It’s not only the right thing to do – it’s also good business sense to expand your audience, improve the quality of your events, and strengthen your reputation. Below you’ll find easy and practical ways to design more inclusive events by encouraging diversity, and making your events more accessible for people with disabilities. DURING THE STRATEGIC PLANNING STAGE Designing inclusive events starts from the very beginning planning stages. Developing a diversity and inclusion policy is a valuable step as it helps provide guidance in decision making, and helps embed it into your organization’s future planning. A few specific steps to take in the early stages include: Adopt universal design principles: Begin your planning with the vision of making your event accessible for everyone and post the steps you’re taking in your event marketing information. This could include selecting menus that avoid the most common food allergens and selecting accessible venues. Diverse representation: Make sure that your planning committee has diverse representation. Budget: Include funds in your budget for accommodation requirements such as interpreters or alternative format materials. Alternatively, secure grants or sponsorships to provide for accessibility requirements.

SUPPLIER SELECTION Supplier selection is one of the most important aspects of designing inclusive events. While selecting a venue that is accessible for people with disabilities is top of mind, there are many other factors to consider that can contribute to a more inclusive event. Venue selection: Look for venues that are easy and practical to navigate for people with disabilities. Tip: when doing your site inspection, ask to be shown the accessible routes to all your meeting spaces and watch for accessibility considerations such as signage, travel time between spaces, location of accessible washrooms, availability of sharps disposals, Braille signage, easy-to-reach-and-operate doors and elevator buttons, and ease of moving through doorways, corridors and washrooms. Accommodation selection: Ask about the availability of accessible rooms and include them in your site inspection. Check public spaces as well, including check-in areas, fitness areas and restaurants for accessibility needs such as lowered table heights. Hire diverse suppliers: Actively seek and hire suppliers that have diverse ownership or leadership, and with a proven track record of inclusive employment practices.

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PROGRAM PLANNING Your event program is also a great opportunity to showcase your commitment to diversity and inclusion. Check your dates: Confirm that your event dates do not fall on religious holy days or festivals by using an online interfaith calendar. Some faith-based celebrations may also have dietary restrictions that can be observed at your event. Select diverse speakers: When planning your program content, check that your speakers, entertainment and talent are representative of diverse identities. Also remember to ensure that stage areas, lecterns and podiums are accessible. Speaker presentations: Include accessibility training for your speakers, including how to use the accessibility checker in PowerPoint and reminders to describe any images. Also ensure proper lighting, sight lines and visibility of sign language interpreters in consultation with the user and the interpreter. Scheduling: Remember to allow for time and space for observing faith-based practices. Also include sufficient time between sessions for travel between locations, medical needs, nursing parents or guardians, and service animal relief.

FOODSERVICE Menu selection and service styles can significantly affect the inclusiveness of your event. Allergies and dietary needs: Collect information about allergies and dietary needs and work with your foodservice provider to eliminate common allergens, properly label foods, effectively distribute special meals, avoid cross-contact and have a plan to respond to medical emergencies. Buffets: Minimize the use of buffets or provide assistance for people with mobility devices to easily access food. Food items and service ware: Offering lightweight beverage containers with lids and straws as well as food items that are pre-cut can be helpful for independent foodservice for people with limited manual dexterity. Table coverings: Avoid the use of long tablecloths or table skirting that can affect users of mobility devices if they get caught under wheels.

SITE MANAGEMENT Selecting accessible venues is a great start – and we also need to consider the design decision that we make as planners, and how they can enhance or compromise the accessibility of the meeting space. Space management: Be careful not to overly crowd meeting spaces to make it easy to move through for people with mobility devices. Lighting and sound: Set lighting and sound levels to encourage all forms of visual and auditory communication. Safety and security: When making announcements about safety and security protocols, include information for people with disabilities such as refuge points. Transportation: Arrange for accessible transportation options to your venue as well as for shuttle services and to off-site events.

MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION With all this great planning in place, it’s important to communicate your plans with your participants, and provide opportunities for them to communicate their needs to you. Registration: Remember to ask participants what they need to fully participate in the event, including accessibility and dietary needs. In addition, eliminate questions about gender if they are not needed, or offer gender-inclusive options on registration forms and name badges. Marketing materials: Check that your website and registration forms meet accessibility needs to ensure equal access to information. Also check that images used in marketing materials reflect diversity and inclusion. Onsite communication: Offer materials in alternative formats such as large print, Braille, captions or audio recorded, as well as sign-language interpretation, real-time captioning and assistive listening devices. Resources: Have resources available for your participants to help them meet their faith-based or accessibility requirements such as locations of places of worship, mobility device rentals or local veterinarians for service animals.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES The above recommendations are a starting point for helping you to design inclusive events. For more information, please visit the following resources: Government of Canada Guide to Planning Inclusive Meetings: www. c a n a d a . c a / e n / e mp l oy m e n t - s o c i a l development/programs/disability/arc/ inclusive-meetings.html Event Services Professionals Association Accessibility Toolkit for Venues: accessibility-toolkit/ American Society of Association E xe c u t i ve s D i ve r s i t y a n d Inc lusion Website:

Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA is Director of Sustainability, Events Industry Council. The Events Industry Council’s 33 member organizations represent over 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry. It promotes high standards and professionalism in the events industry with the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program and signature program initiatives. The four signature programs — Sustainability, Industry Insights, Knowledge, and Leadership — represent the key initiatives, assets, services and products for the Events Industry Council. Corporate Meetings & Events Fall/Winter 2017 |  31



Food trends, budget constraints and communication challenges keep F&B teams on their toes From addressing food allergies to dealing with shrinking budgets and tighter-than-ever timelines, venue food and beverage teams face a host of challenges with every event they help organize. Corporate Meetings and Events magazine recently spoke with senior leaders at several successful event venues to learn about how these hardworking teams address such challenges to create exceptional experiences for planners and guest alike. Participants: Jason Bangerter, Executive Chef; Virgilio Vea, Director of Food and Beverage; and Kate Mackay, Director of Sales and Marketing; Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa Paul Paboudjian, Executive Chef, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel Jennifer Rafuse, Director of Catering; and Jenna Nicholson, Senior Catering Manager; Vancouver Convention Centre What are some of the biggest challenges in planning food and beverage components for corporate meetings and events?

Jason Bangerter, Virgilio Vea and Kate Mackay: Over the last decade, the number of allergies and food preferences for any given event has increased. At Langdon Hall, we like to customize the dish away from the allergy rather than provide a complete menu replacement but this becomes challenging when over 10 per cent of the party has 32 |

noted an allergy or food aversion we need to consider. Another challenge is keeping to deadlines. We work to finalize menu details at least 10 days before an event and require F&B final guarantees 72 hours prior to the event. From a service team’s perspective, this can be the hardest challenge: Last minute changes. It seems that BEOs are not always reviewed by the clients or at least signed back. All the information provided on the BEO should be as accurate as possible.

Paul Paboudjian: The biggest challenge is to truly understand the needs in terms of quantities and consumption for the guests you have staying with you. This is important so that you are not over producing and, at the same time, have enough so the buffets do not look sparse when the last guest comes to join the events. The other platform is keeping the team motivated to continue producing high volumes of food while maintaining the highest degree of quality.

FOODANDBEVERAGE Our business is just as much about people as it is about food.

Jennifer Rafuse and Jenna Nicholson: Organizers are faced with numerous challenges when planning an event and quite often with the food and beverage component of planning they include budget constraints, a large variety of dietary restrictions and tight timelines to execute events. We’ve had great success by drawing on our 27 years of event experience and writing market specific menus which are designed to address the specific needs of a planner for events ranging from conventions to weddings. What can planners do when working with venue staff to help make these events run more smoothly?

JB, VV, KM: The convenience of email and texting is amazing but from an event detailing perspective, it’s challenging to answer multiple emails a day from a planner. We like having an initial phone call with a planner that is followed up with a planning document submitted by the planner outlining most of the details required. After that has been sent, we suggest accumulating questions or changes to no more than one email/day with the

exception of last minute needs. In addition, it would always be nice that all clients tour the facility with a sales rep and an operations rep. Operations seems to be left out of these meetings, when in fact they are the ones to execute the event and who can easily address the requirements or limitations of the venue.

those experiences. As the venue planning team, we also like to share previous event experiences to set expectations along with visualizing successful events. We feel a critical element of success to overcoming challenges is to collaborate with our clients to deliver exceptional event experiences.

PP: We believe that it is essential to work with us at the hotel level to provide as much detailed information as possible with as much notice as possible. Sometimes we have a very small window in which to react, which causes undue hardship on all the parties surrounding the event and therefore can lead to possible mistakes that provide poor experiences. Finally, being careful to keep the expectations within the client budget. To us, quality and service are key but learning to educate our customers on the markets we are in is very important.

What are some of the most interesting F&B trends when it comes to event menus?

JR and JN: When faced with challenges it is helpful to establish open communication between the venue planning team and planners, so that we are able to understand what the event is looking to achieve. Basic details we start with are delegate demographics, where the event has been previously hosted and the takeaways from

JB, VV, KM: We are fortunate to have a 75-acre property that is very unique in its offering and resources for small groups. Chef Bangerter has excelled at creating a farmto-table philosophy to complement the marketing plan and vision of the cuisine experience. Theme breaks featuring a chef appearance to explain the food concept and interact with the event participants tells a story and creates a lasting, memorable impression on guests. Vegan and glutenfree items are a big need. It is important that they appeal to all guests. This spring our most popular dessert was a Chocolate Ganache that was prepared nut-free with coconut milk so it was served to guests who were vegan, lactose intolerant, celiac, requiring nut-free and to guests who had no known allergies. Gear the offering to meet multiple needs. Food is no longer

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FOODANDBEVERAGE just a “feature” for many hotel businesses, it’s the main event. How do brands rethink the connection between hospitality and gastronomy? This is where we are focusing on creating excitement.

PP: We believe it is important that we keep things unique and fresh with optics and with our product offerings. Molecular gastronomy is becoming an experience people are starting to be drawn to. Although it is not substantial in volume, it is certainly something that evokes conversations and makes people have fond memories of the event itself. JR and JN: The trend for “local” continues to be at the forefront of what meeting planners are looking to showcase to their delegates. This trend has evolved to include generating an experiential event where we are creating an environment so the delegates are able to connect with us, such as action stations that are unique, tapas bars where the chef is building the plates in front of the guests, or a BBQ event on our Pacific Terrace overlooking Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains. Included in the local trends are also showcasing the craft beer and local wines. Rather than just serving

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the beer and wine, we have found success in partnering with our suppliers by inviting wine makers and brewers to serve and talk about their products. This has elevated the experience along with creating excitement about our local businesses! What new F&B developments are on the horizon for your facility and how do you see these enhancing the event experience for planners and their clients?

JB, VV, KM: Our F&B team includes talents from the gardening team, sommeliers, chefs, and serving staff who are pleased to share their passion and knowledge with guests. Imagine touring the garden prior to lunch, watching the gardener pull the radish that will appear in your salad 45 minutes later. Our team is excited to interact with your participants and make a memory for them. We can execute wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, cocktail-making classes, foraging excursions, and pastry lessons for 2-14 participants at a time. We have a demonstration kitchen, vegetable garden and award-winning wine cellar to introduce to guests.

PP: We believe that tapas, or small plates, will continue to trend because we are seeing

more and more that people are gravitating towards many tastes and little bites. In addition, interactive presentations and challenges that involve F&B are fun ways to engage teams. We are seeing and creating more and more events designed to bring people together because of food.

JR and JN: The interest in hosting a sustainable event is a trend that has increased significantly over the last several years. We were recently awarded the world’s first Double LEED Platinum Convention Centre for design and construction as well as management and operations of the building. Since 2014 we have been certified for environmentally sustainable meetings by GMIC / ASTM Level One. Thanks to the predictive nature of F&B events at the VCC (complemented by our “made-fromscratch” approach to menus) we control waste to a much higher degree than most hospitality operators. VCC’s history of promoting and using locally grown, fresh products means fewer “food miles” are consumed in the transport of products to our door. We are also a certified “OceanWise” facility – with sustainable seafood choices on our menus as defined by the Vancouver Aquarium.