Strategic Solutions for Today's Planner
TRENDSETTING Staying ahead of the curve
Inside this issue:
Shift Change GETTING PAST THE PITCH Networking for introverts BEYOND EVENT PLANNING Itâ€™s time to think about experiential design
Navigating the labour landscape
GREEN LIGHT Cannabis is legal, so now what?
AUDIENCE FIRST How to sell a crowd on your idea
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FEATURE STORY 12 TRENDSETTING
Booking talent keeps you on trend. Developing it keeps you ahead of the curve
By Janice Cardinale
CONTENTS FEATURES 5
GETTING PAST THE PITCH
Business as Usual?
When everyone has something to sell, nobody has anything to say
By Mia and Andy Torr
16 BEYOND EVENT PLANNING You’ve figured out the event logistics, but have you thought about the experience?
By Tahira Endean and Andrew Lacanienta
By Sheila Wong
By Jason Thomson
Labour laws are changing. Learn how to keep up
Presenters talk a lot, but what are they selling?
The MTCC puts local food on the centre stage
By Gregory Furgala
By Karen Turner
Legal cannabis is the new event element to know
Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 3
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BUSINESS AS USUAL? Corporate Meetings & Events Volume 19 Number 2
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Tech, trends, regulations — events encompass them all, and they’re always changing
Imagine trying to win a hockey game, except instead of knowing the rules going in, you’re reading the rule book as you play. Suffice it to say, it wouldn’t exactly be conducive to a winning season. Hockey players are lucky, though; rule changes only occur during the off season. But planners? Not so much. The rules for planners are being upended all the time. It’d be easy to blame the tech sector. After all, it makes the loudest and proudest claims on disruption. But the events space encompasses more than just tech — legislation, new business models and an always-developing understanding of how people interact with each other and their environments have all contributed to the ongoing rethink of event and meeting planning. Throwing people into a room with some name tags doesn’t mean they’re networking; putting a presenter in front of a listening crowd doesn’t mean they’re communicating; getting food in front of people doesn’t mean they’re really dining. And, apropos change, cannabis is legal now — that will definitely disrupt the norm. In that spirit, this issue of CM&E tackles the rapid pace of change in the industry. In our cover story, “Trendsetting,” Janice Cardinale, a.k.a. The Idea Hunter, discusses how she made the professional leap from fashion to entertainment, and how developing talent has kept her on the cutting edge of corporate event entertainment. You’ll also find: ● A walkthrough of the finer points of new labour and employment standards in “Shift Change,” by Sheila Wong; ● Mia and Andy Torr’s pointers on inclusive networking in “Getting Past the Pitch”; ● “Beyond Event Planning,” a primer on experiential design by Tahira Endean and Andrew Lacanienta.
I get it; it can be frustrating. Just as you figure something out, develop your niche and get a bit of swagger, the goalposts move and the rules change. But corporate meeting planners are a nimble, curious bunch that thrive on change — it’s what makes the business as dynamic as it is. I’m sure you’ll keep up.
Gregory Furgala Managing Editor
Subscribe to e-newsletter at corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca Follow on Twitter @MeetingNetwork Like us on Facebook /cmemediaedge Join our group on linkd.in/cmemediaedge
Not everybody’s a networking natural, but good event planners can make everybody feel like one By Mia and Andy Torr 6 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
Networking activities can add value to many corporate events, but how do you plan them? Do you keep them simple or get creative? Do they bring out the best in your attendees, or do they make them feel anxious about participating? Let’s face it: you don't hear the words "fun" and "networking" together very often. In fact, many of the members in our Authentic Networkers meetup group tell us they used to hate networking, and we don’t blame them — we didn't like business networking at first, either. They started coming to our events, though, and changed their minds. In the early days of our business, we visited networking events of all sizes to meet new people and generate leads. Everyone seemed to be selling something, and nobody was doing much listening. As introverts (yes, networkers can be introverts), the big crowds and small talk overwhelmed us quickly. We were
meeting tonnes of people and left every event with business cards spilling out of our pockets, but we still ended up with very few connections that felt like they mattered. It's easy to understand why so many people feel apprehensive. Most open net work i ng event s a re completely unstructured, and without structure, the people who dominate the room are the extroverts, people with sales agendas and those with a lot of net working experience. All too often, they're all the same people, and all too often, they're pitching their products and services without qualification, which can leave
attendees feeling like they have a layer of slime to wash off when they get home. As you can imagine, it’s not the best way to get good reviews or attract repeat attendance.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT
This begs the question: How can you pla n a net work i ng event that adds value, makes it a comfortable space for introverts and other marginalized voices and makes people want to come back? The answer isn't any one thing. It takes a combination of science, art and, of course, good meeting planning. Let’s look at the science. In his book Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff describes how t he hu ma n bra i n responds to a n u n solicited busi ness pitch: "We survived for millions of years by viewing everything in the universe as potentially d a n g e r ou s … a n d t h at c o nt i nue s Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 7
(unconsciously) to this day every time we encounter something new. It happens whenever we encounter a pitch from someone who wants us to do something. We are hardwired to be bad at pitching. It is caused by the way our brains evolved." You know exactly what this feels like. It's that familiar fight-or-flight response that kicks in whenever someone tries to sell you something. Klaff explains that the most primitive part of our brain (the "croc brain") constantly scans for th reats. The croc brain is what sorts dangerous ideas from interesting ones. It marks everything non-essential as spam. In terms of your next networking event, t h is mea n s t hose u n sol icited business pitches will almost always be perceived as a threat, or ignored.
We decided to start our own networking group to address this issue. Our first objective was to find a way to dial down the pitching. We didn’t want a completely pitch-free environment — after all, the idea was still to make business contacts.
But we wanted people to bypass the feeling of threat, of being cornered. How did we do this successfully? By fostering great conversations. We e nv i s i o n e d a c o m m u n i t y o f ent repreneu rs who got toge t her to support each other rather than sell to each other. We built our group culture around a single rule: you can talk about your business, but you must have a real conversation first. Of course, to create real conversations, we h ad t o c r e at e a c u lt u r e wh e r e
everyone’s voice mattered. We didn’t want the room to be dominated by a vocal minority (who does?). Many of the members of our networking group identify as introverts, Highly Sensitive Persons, visible minorities and non-native English speakers — all groups that tend to feel marginalized a lot of the time. When we asked them about their experiences networking, they told us the same thing: socializing doesn’t come naturally, and closed-off groups sending small, unintentional signals can make them shut down.
"I need structure in social settings to avoid feeling awkward. I need to avoid feeling cornered, and if I see a closed circle or a clique I am uncomfortable inserting myself." — Mandi "As an introvert and a Highly Sensitive Person, I’m more sensitive to noise and I experience networking events in microscopic detail. It takes me longer to get to know my fellow networkers and become curious about them." — Cherie "Some of us are extreme introverts with serious social awkwardness. What social people take for granted as normal and natural is just beyond my comprehension. We are fighting our own demons to get out of our comfort zone." — Jorge
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P e r h a p s y o u ’v e e x p e r i e n c e d t h i s yourself. You know there’s value in an event but it feels cliquey, and you aren’t compelled to speak up. Luckily, there are ways of creating safety in a networking environment — this is the art of fostering a networking culture. I n h i s b o ok T h e Cult ure C od e: T h e S e c r e t s o f H igh ly S u c c e s s f u l G r o u p s, Da n ie l Coyle e x pl a i n s t h at hu m a n s use "belong i ng cues," or behaviou rs, that create safe connections in groups. You've felt t hese before: eye contact, turn taking, attention, body language, vocal pitch and whether everyone talks to everyone else in the group. If a group isn’t inclusive, you sense it immediately. "Belonging cues add up to a message t h at c a n b e de s c r ib e d w it h a si ng le p h r a s e: Yo u a r e s a f e h e r e," w r i t e s Coyle. "They seek to not i f y our everv ig i la nt bra i n s t h at t hey ca n stop worrying about dangers and shift into con ne ct ion mode, a cond it ion ca l led psychological safety." When we receive these belonging cues, our social brains light up, says Coyle. They help us to understand that we have a place in the group. We are close, we are safe, we share a future. Planners have to strive to include some belonging cues in the structure of their networking events. For us, this meant creating roundtable icebreaker activities wh e r e p e o ple t o ok t u r n s t o s p e a k . We asked fun, provocat ive quest ions u n r elated to bu si ne s s to ge t p e ople spea k i ng , l i sten i ng a nd m a k i ng eye contact. Only once the room warmed up did we turn everyone loose to network without structure. Your networking event will go farther i f yo u h e lp m e m b e r s f e e l s a f e a n d included, and that will only happen if you’re proactive and take steps to make everyone feel that way, not just the most expressive and extroverted.
Lesson 1: Be inclusive in your marketing When you create promotional materials, strive for images and language that promote diversity and inclusion. Indicate that attendees will each have a chance to speak and listen, and that your event will strike a balance between relationship building and business promotion. If your members can see themselves in your marketing, they will show up. Lesson 2: Tell your members what to expect Use your welcoming remarks to create a culture. Set guidelines for behaviour (i.e., taking turns). Encourage attendees to be curious and listen, and provide a common purpose that is greater than personal gain. Encourage members to share their experiences and expertise and to add value to others by making connections and following up. Lesson 3: Use a semi-facilitated networking format Unstructured networking turns into a pitch-fest; too much structure and people feel demeaned. Use a semi-facilitated event to create safety and give everyone a voice. For example, begin with structured conversation starters then open up the networking afterward. Professional meeting planners and event organizers have an extraordinary opportunity to create and influence the culture of the groups they serve. By offering thoughtful, inclusive and well-structured events, planners and organizers can enable their participants to create meaningful connections and feel a genuine sense of comfort and belonging. For an introvert, or anyone who has ever felt marginalized by traditional networking, this experience can be transformative. As co-founders of Authentic Networker, Mia and Andy Torr help corporate teams and business owners master business relationships to consistently attract clients and referrals. Their unique style of networking is practiced in more than 30 cities across North America. Download one of their free conversation starters at authenticnetworker.com/cme.
Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 9
OTLIGHTT SSPPO ITYY CIT CC EC N QUÉBE ON O
AERIAL VIEW OF UPPER TOWN PHOTO: MARC-ANTOINE JEAN
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.
BELL SCENE PHOTO: PHILIPPE RENAUD
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 : QuebecBusinessDestination.com
#meetquébeccity QUÉBEC CITY CONVENTION CENTRE PHOTO: EMMANUEL COVENEY
F E AT U R E S T O R Y
TRENDSETT Recruiting talent keeps you ahead of the game. Developing talent lets you make the rules By Janice Cardinale
F E AT U R E S T O R Y
TING Anticipation is what drives every one of us in the event industry. At The Idea Hunter, my corporate entertainment agency, we do our best work when we anticipate the future and craft ideas before our clients are aware they need them. Our work needs to inspire, resonate and, most importantly, add real value to our clients' businesses. When we're successful, it's fulfilling not only for my clients and the talent I connect them with, but for me, too. To get to that point, we abide by four key rules — call them the tools in our creative toolbox.
Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 13
F E AT U R E S T O R Y
“THE SUITS CAME IN THE WRONG SIZES, LEDS CAME UNFIT FOR PERFORMANCE, SOFTWARE WAS SENT LATE — ANYTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG, DID.”
• Context: A strong creative idea is more powerful if it connects meaningfully with what is actually happening in people's lives. • Break a Rule: Break the conventions and industries in which you compete to stand a better chance of getting noticed. • Art Factor: Elevate your ideas through the highest level of craft and design for the purpose of commercial clarity, but also to go as far as commenting on society and the human condition. • Culture Shaping: The best creative idea s get co - opted by med ia a nd culture. When audiences adopt an idea and make it their own, we say this idea is culture shaping. In 2003, I transitioned into events and entertainment after running a successful business in the fashion industry. I didn't know the first thing about entertainment, 14 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
but I quickly learned by watching others, reading, researching and thinking outside the proverbial box, and while I lacked industry experience, I had vision for the future. I started with entertaining younger crowds at social events, but soon took on corporate gigs catering to a broader demographic. I realized early on that the business of entertainment production and finding new ideas was no different than buying trendy accessories for fashion retailers across Canada. After all, in fashion, there's an expectation that when you present the buyers with new merchandise each season, it has to sell for them to come back for more. The same expectation prevails in the event industry — what I present to my client has to impress if I want them to stay my client. As social clients became corporate clients, I built relationships, joined associations and began to apply
my experience in fashion using the same formula I had previously been successful with in my new career.
STAYING CLOSE TO HOME
I made a decision early on to promote Canadian talent and mentor rising talent so that they could be taught how to engage, perform and understand the business side of entertainment. I was fortunate enough to earn the respect of my peers as I built my reputation, and it was those same people that enabled me to get better at creating my own exclusive acts and disrupting industry norms. Agents helped book gigs, but I wanted to help develop talent and make a difference at the outset of their careers. It was — and still is — incredibly rewarding for both them and me. So how do I a nt icipate t rends? I st ick to my st reng t h s: I watch t he
F E AT U R E S T O R Y events space, and satisfied all of the stakeholders, including me.
RISK AND REWARD
fashion runways, the textiles, colours a nd t rends each season. Some m ay ask how that experience pertains to entertainment. The answer is that all trends begin with a vision. For example, my company just introduced a show called 416Bots, a Toronto-based group. I saw a similar show on America's Got Talent and was immediately fascinated. It was a fast-paced, electrifying LED show choreographed to music and lighting with explosive affects that left me in awe of what I had just seen. I did some digging and found out that it's expensive to produce, but when Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment approached me about this kind of act, we decided it was time to invest and partnered with a choreographer and friend from the entertainment industry.
We did our due diligence, but were tested by a number of curve balls. The suits came in the wrong sizes, LEDs came unfit for performance, software was sent late — anything that could go wrong, did. We had only a few weeks before our fi rst show a nd more problems tha n successes, but we relied on our network who from the day one has been there to help me with anything. We found lighting engineers to fix the LEDS, a tailor to re-fit the suits and, looking inward, the patience to get over each hurdle that we had to. On the day before the show, all we wanted was for everything to work in sync, and thankfully it did. MLSE was happy and, despite our exhaustion, we were thrilled with the outcome. Developing the 416Bots helped further drive our niche in the
I need to be on the edge of every trend and take risks to win. I have always had a passion for good ideas, and sadly, not every idea I see is good. Discerning between the two often makes me feel like a judge on a talent show, but my clients expect me to rapidly introduce them to new ideas, and they rightfully expect them to have a bit of polish. I need to approach potential trends with my eye toward the future and to the young, local talent I want to cultivate. Without vision you can't create what matters. Luckily, our success has begotten success. Engaging artists and performers has become easy because we’ve become k nown in the urban entertain ment market as mentors a nd a home for r i si ng t a lent. We've helped a new generation of talent rise up and intend to help them reach the next stage of their careers — it’s what makes me proud as a businesswoman and entrepreneur. I began my business in the basement of my house, and I stayed there for many years. But creating what matters is what I cared about then, and now, in an office I now share with six other fabulous women, it's what we care about now. Janice Cardinale is the founder and Chief Idea Hunter at the Idea Hunter, an event entertainment agency. Drawing from the worlds of fashion, design and music, amongst others, Cardinale has created memorable experiences for several large organizations, including Air Canada Vacations, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, TIFF and others. Cardinale is also the current chair of the Program Advisory Committee at Seneca College.
Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 15
BEYOND EVENT PL All events are experiential, but if you break down an experience into its constituent parts, what are you left with? By Tahira Endean and Andrew Lacanienta
16 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
LANNING Experiential design is not new. In fact, we have been doing it for thousands of years. Each time tribes gathered together to celebrate, or travelled to meet, converse and trade, experiences were intentionally designed and history was written. We have connected through ritual, regalia, food, storytelling, performance, pageantry and entertainment all designed to drive emotive human responses. From caves to castles, these connections built and overturned empires and changed the course of history as participants enjoyed spectacles of shared ar t, music and artistic extravagance. In their 1999 book, The Experience Economy, B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore sought to provide information on staging experiences to leave an impression that was both memorable and lucrative as they tied experiences to marketing and ultimately sales. We would argue that, long before this was written, event and incentive travel professionals were already aware of the impact of Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019â€‚|â€‚ 17
MEETINGSPACESANDPLACES an experience and ultimately delivering the experience in a way that allows time and space for contextualization and reflection.
SUCCESSFUL EXPERIENCES START WITH TRUST
First, the importance of starting from a place of trust cannot be overstated. How often do we begin an event knowing nobody? It often takes hours or days of feeling socially awkward before we make connections with others, yet it is these connections that enrich our experience, allow us to learn and to shift our thinking. They also lead us to return, often a goal for the event host. To that end, here are some simple steps toward making those connections: • Ensure participants are greeted with respect and courtesy, developing a sense of comfort; • Learn who else is with us. Who’s in the room, at the table or in a smaller group? • Learn the names of the other participants; • Find com mon g rou nd, i nclud i ng hometowns, favourite foods, sports or whatever else. Simple starters go a long way.
“DEVELOPING AN EXPERIENCE THAT TRIGGERS AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE, THE BEGINNING STEP FOR BEHAVIOUR CHANGE, REQUIRES FIRST DEFINING THE CHANGE IN BEHAVIOUR.” experiences on human behaviour — in fact, organized reward travel began with the first incentive trip in the early 1900s! With programs thoughtfully designed to drive sales and build loyalty, we see continued success because relationships strengthened using the context of worthwhile, memorable, transformative events are incredibly powerful and enduring.
Event design is the art and science of creating spaces that are designed for intersections of ideas to happen. It’s the end-to-end creation of an experience to deliver maximum impact for stakeholders, event after event. It is also referred to as mindful or purposeful design, and ultimately, it’s both the cause and effect of participants being comfortable. Those are stable definitions; their application, however, is always changing. As this area evolves, we seek more information and ways to experiment, testing theories of human interaction at events. Our large event 18 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
industry associations have been offering updated formats where we can see these in action. Several smaller events with fewer than 100 participants, including EventCamps, the Haute Dokimazo series and the College of Extraordinary Experiences, are all pushing boundaries. Last September, a College event included 80 participants from around the globe and across several sectors, including event design, shopping centres, music, magic, art, film, academia, stage, animation, festivals and more. This allowed for a wonderful set of perspectives on experience design to explore, starting with the College’s three key principles: flexible focus, where sometimes you need to lead and sometimes you need to follow; co-creation, because collaboration is key; and rapid prototyping, so you can test your ideas on a focus group, listen for feedback and adapt. Developing an experience that triggers an emotional response, the beginning step for behaviour change, requires first defining the change in behaviour, prototyping and testing
During a session at the College, we worked through three mini-workshops showcasing experiences in engagement, immersion and absorption. These were led by Andrew, using information gained as he earned his newly minted PhD in Experience Design. His life’s work to date has been exploring human experiences from both deep theoretical and ongoing practical viewpoints, and below he shares his take on what these words mean, and how and why these experiences can be designed and staged. Engagement, immersion and absorption were originally conceptualized by Pine and Gilmore in The Experience Economy. Building on Pine and Gilmore’s work, A Theory of Structured Experience, written by Gary Ellis, Patti Freeman, Tazim Jamal and Jingxian Jiang, provides formal definitions and theoretical propositions for staging these three specific experience types. The theory asserts that these experiences are affected by the service performance of the experience designer — in our case, the meeting planner and their team. Service performance must meet or exceed an acceptable threshold before the experience will facilitate high levels of engagement, immersion or absorption. Heightened
MEETINGSPACESANDPLACES levels of attention, motivation and emotion cannot occur if providers have not treated participants in a courteous, effective, responsive and respectful manner. Once service performance is acceptable, providers can begin to intentionally design experience offerings. While the three previously mentioned experience types are theorized as mutually exclusive, Pine and Gilmore posit experience designers can hit a sweet spot by incorporating all three. Engagement experiences are characterized by an extraordinary focus of attention on an unfolding story told in a combination of words, action and music that taps into heightened emotions and perceived freedom. Engaging experiences can be facilitated by intentionally designing these to be coherent, provocative and personally relevant. Examples of engagement experiences might include viewing a theatrical presentation, listening to a talk, or conversing with a friend. Immersion experiences are associated with performance and are characterized by a high focus of attention on a limited stimulus field, environmental demand for immediate action, automatic responses, immediate feedback on participants’ actions and a perception of control. Immersion experiences include a proper balance of challenge, skill, self-relevance and an intrinsic, deep interest in participation Examples of immersion experiences may include playing a game, learning a new skill or participating in an activity that may be familiar or new, such as painting. In the context of events, these are often the most enjoyable types of experiences. Selfrelevance deepens as skills are learned, improved and applied to work or home environments post-event. P i n e a n d G i l m o r e ’s t h i r d t y p e, absorption experiences, are inherently sensory. They’re characterized by high levels of relaxation and pleasure, absence of demand for behavioural or mental action and absence of active thinking. Absorption experiences can be facilitated by handsoff experience providers who remain hands off, allowing the guests to fully relax and creating a perception of solitude that encourages mindfulness. Examples of absorption experiences may include watching a beautiful sunset, sipping a fine wine or listening to a melodic symphony.
important to delivering memorable moments and ultimately positive evaluation of an experience or overall program. Engagement experiences captivate guests with coherent stories, provocative questions, and personally relevant connections. Immersion experiences allow growth and progress as deep intrinsic motivation drives guests to push limits, increase skills, and challenge themselves. Lastly, absorption experiences create space for relaxation, pleasure, and mindfulness while guests become absorbed in multi-sensory stimulation. These three experiences, while powerful on their own, can facilitate the real sweet spot of an entire experience when utilized together. At high levels of engagement, immersion and engagement, guests will experience an effortless sense of concentration during which they lose their sense of time, thoughts about themselves, and awareness of their problems leading to deep, meaningful and valued experiences. As we develop meeting programs, considering the balance of time spent listening to speakers, actively learning new information through hands-on challenges, and time to reflect in a variety of quieter
environments is key. Ultimately, it is about understanding how humans respond to various types of experiences and understand different people will respond at different levels, and that this is both normal and to be expected. Then, have fun experimenting with formats, track results and continue to adapt. Tahira Endean, CMP, DES, CED, is a curious event producer, passionate about intentional event design and the integration of now-ubiquitous technology to enhance the human experience at events and every day. In 2015, Endean was inducted into the Meetings Canada Hall of Fame in the Big Idea category, and most recently was one of Canada’s 20 most Fascinating Women in events from Canadian Special Event magazine. Andrew Lacanienta is an assistant professor in the department of experience industry management at California Polytechnic State University. He earned his PhD in recreation, park and tourism sciences at Texas A&M University where he researched experience design, focusing on co-creation and structure experience theory.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
All of these types of experiences can easily be incorporated during the course of an event, adding an enjoyment factor which is Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 19
SHIFT CHANGE New laws, repealed legislation and shifting employment statuses have created an uncertain labour landscape
By Sheila Wong
In recent history, meeting planners generally hired contractors or casual labour to assist with their events. "That's how we've always done it," quipped one meeting planner I spoke to. "I don’t need them all the time, and my company doesn’t want to payroll, so we have the contractor invoice us and we submit it for payment." Sound familiar? But p r ov i n c i a l g ove r n m e n t s h ave proposed or implemented changes to labour standards across the country, reforming labour law and increasing minimum wages, and in some places j u s t t h e o p p o s i t e. I n O n t a r i o, t h e r e c e n t l y- p a s s e d B i l l 4 7 r e p e a l e d labour reforms int roduced last year, including a plan ned minimum wage h i ke to $15 p er hou r t h at wou ld've k icked i n on Ja nua r y 1, 2019, a nd a p r ov i s io n r e q u i r i n g e q u a l p ay fo r employees no matter their employment 20 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
st at u s. Most, but not a l l, prov i nces a nd t e r r itor ie s h ave fol lowe d su it, i nc reasi ng m i n i mu m wage past t he usua l adjust ment s m ade relat ive to the consumer price index or inflation. The federal government announced it plans to overhaul the country's labour laws by Labour Day to accommodate precarious workers in the gig economy. L a b o u r l aw s a r e c h a n g i n g , a n d quickly. But what does all this mean to the meeting and conference planning industry?
THE TAX MAN COMETH
Regardless of the legislative landscape, labour has sig n i fica nt implicat ions with respect to the Canada Revenue Agency. There are tax advantages for both the employer and the employee to work as an independent contractor. For the CRA to determine a worker's status in Canada as either an employee o r a n i n d e p e n d e n t c o n t r a c t o r, i t w i l l lo ok at t he "i nte nt ion s of t he worker and payer when both parties established a working relationship," says Mark Repath, an associate at Van Kralingen and Keenberg LLP. Sonal Shah, manager of tax services a t G r a n t T h o r n t o n LL P, o u t l i n e s t h e C R A's f o u r p o i n t t e s t it u s e s to de t e r m i n e a work e r's st at u s a s follows:
O P E R AT I O N S A N D L O G I S T I C S
• Control: The extent to which the payer has the right to exercise control over the worker, including the way the work is done and where the work will be done. • Ownership of Tools: The extent to which the worker can and does utilize their own tools, materials or equipment to perform the work. • Risk o f p r o f it o r l oss: T he e xte nt to wh ic h t he r e i s opp or t u n it y of financial risk or profit for the worker. A self-employed individual would be financially liable if the obligations of the contract are not met. • Integration: The extent to which the worker is an integral member of the organization or team. Shah goes on to state that the longer the arrangement, the more likely the lines will start to blur. The CRA will assess this classification on a case by case basis, but whatever you do, employ your workers by the book. A potential result of an improper classification by an employer could be an order to pay years of missed deductions and remittances, in addition to significant fines and penalties. Sound confusing? It's okay — since when have taxes not been? But don't fret; below are some examples to help clear the air.
CASE STUDY I: HIRING THROUGH AN EMPLOYMENT AGENCY
A con ference producer h i res a n employment agency to provide staff to work a s r eg i st rat ion age nt s a nd room mon itors. A schedu le a nd job descriptions are issued to the agency, wh i c h a s s ig n s t h e wo rk e r s t o t h e va r iou s job f u nc t ion s. B e c au s e t he work is only for three days, the agency chooses to enter a cont ractor/payer relationship with its workers. So what's the organizer's relationship with labour? According to Shah's interpretation, i f a n i nd iv idua l accept s a work placement to the con ference through the employment agency where they're u nder t he complete di rect ion of t he c o n f e r e n c e o r g a n i z e r o r a g e n c y, either the conference organizer or the agency has the obligation to make the required tax withholdings and remit to the CRA. "Regardless of the parties’ intentions or contractual relationship," echoes Repath.
“THE WORKING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CONFERENCE PLANNERS AND THEIR STAFF SHIFTS AND SKIDS INTO VARIOUS LEGAL TERRITORIES DEPENDING ON WHO'S DOING WHAT, WITH WHAT AND FOR HOW LONG.” CASE STUDY II: THE AV TECH
An AV technician at a trade show is given creative license at an event to setup lighting and a sound system, but the degree of control the event producer has is much lower. This could be deemed an independent contractor relationship, however, that could change quickly, according to Repath. For example, if the AV technician is provided with the equipment they have to use at the event, in the eyes of the CRA, they could be deemed an employee. "With the implementation of Ontario’s Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, there is increasing potential risks and penalties for employers that misclassify employees. Penalties existed if an individual was determined to be an employee and the appropriate deductions and remittances were not made. However, the key change now comes from the update to the Employment Standards Act which places the burden on an employer to prove that a worker is not an employee. Bill 148 also implements penalties for this misclassification which can lead to a significant liability. As such, it is very important to consider what the factual relationship really is when hiring staff or evaluating the work relationship with existing staff," says Shah. "Under the ITA, penalties existed if an individual was determined to be an employee and the appropriate deductions and remittances were not made.
TAX IMPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYEES VS. CONTRACTORS
"I f t he i nd iv idua l i s con sidered a n employee, their employer, whether it’s an agency or conference organizer, is responsible for deducting and remitting Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan, Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, Employment Insurance and income tax at the source," says Shah. "The employer would also be required to report this income on a T4 slip which the employer
would provide to both the employee and to CRA." A Record of Employment must be provided when the employee stops working, as well. S e l f- e m p l o y e d i n d i v i d u a l s a r e responsible for calculating and remitting t h e s a m e e xc e p t for E mploy m e nt Insurance benefits for which they are not entitled. In some cases, they are also required to collect and remit GST and HST, Quebec Sales Tax and other prov i nc ia l sa le s t a xe s. I n cont ra st to the employee, a cont ractor has a g reater abilit y to deduct expen ses. For employers, Repath suggests that if an agency is used, then the staff are generally treated as the employees of the agency unless the agency fails to pay the workers. But if the agency fails to pay what is owed to the employees, the burden then falls on the planner or host. The above equally applies to servers or hospitality staff at events. It 's not a n ea sy la nd s cap e to navigate. The working relationsh ip b e t we e n con fe r e n ce pl a n ne r s a nd their staff shifts and skids into various legal territories depending on who's doing what, with what and for how long, and legislation that's shifting in kind makes it even more difficult to pin down. More than anyone, though, pla n ners ought to be fam iliar with having another ball to juggle — that, at least, isn't going to change. Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are for information purposes only and do not serve as tax or legal advice. To learn more about how to determine tax implications on hiring staff, specifically the relationship between an employer and contractor/employee, please consult a tax advisor. Sheila Wong is the Senior Vice President and Founding Partner at BBW International, event staffing professionals and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 21
Caesars Means Business
MEETINGS MEMORABLE AT CAESARS WINDSOR
Caesars Windsor will make your next meeting memorable with a full range of luxurious space, unparalleled service and incredible amenities. This premier waterfront destination has over 100,000 square feet of customizable space for any event. Planners and event attendees always enjoy an incredible experience with this four-diamond hotel and resort. Make your next meeting come to life with the affordable luxury your team deserves. Call 1-877-223-7702 to book your unforgettable event just a short distance away at the largest casino and gaming resort in Canada. Successful meetings start at CaesarsWindsor.com PlaySmart 1-866-531-2600 Ontario Problem Gambling HelpLine. All ages welcome in our Augustus Tower and convention complex. Must be 19 years of age or older to enter the casino and all other outlets. Those who have been trespassed from Caesars Windsor and/or self-excluded from any OLG or Caesars property are not eligible to attend Caesars Windsor or related outlets, participate in promotions or redeem offers. The Caesars brand and related trademarks are owned by Caesars License Company, LLC and its affiliated companies. Used with permission.
E D U C AT I O N A N D S E M I N A R T R A I N I N G
You’ve thought about what you want to say, but have you thought about what people want to hear? By Jason Thomson
"OK, so, here’s what I want to talk about." I meet with 75 or so presenters every year to help them craft talks, presentations, fireside chats and panels, and this is often the first set of words a speaker shares. This is a problem, and it's big enough to derail their entire presentation, because unfortunately, too many speakers think about presentations as moments of tell, as in, "I have something to tell the audience." But the truth is, presentations are moments of sell. You're selling the audience a new idea so they’ll think differently, perceive differently or act differently. You want something to change as a result of your presentation. Moments of sell mean that you have to think less about your content and more about what it takes to move your audience. In short, it's about figuring out what it takes to persuade your audience, which doesn't start with what you want to say. Instead it starts entirely with your audience — who they are, what biases they have, and the sales cycle it takes to activate your message.
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
The moment of sell is only half the equation, though. When I give keynotes on presenting, I constantly remind my audience that it's not just what they sell; it's also what their audience buys. I see leaders ignore this during a lot of internal corporate events like national sales meetings. They spend time draining, or over-explaining or lecturing the audience about the year ahead, and lecturing a group of adults rarely generates the right kind of action. 24 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
E D U C AT I O N A N D S E M I N A R T R A I N I N G Good presenters start by asking what it takes to win, and what it takes to win over a distracted audience. They ask what it takes to win over an audience that might disagree with them and what it’ll take to win over competing interests and countervailing agendas.
KNOWING THE AUDIENCE
I find that I'm using increasingly sophisticated and novel ways to understand who a n aud ience i s a nd what they want from a pr e s e nt at ion. For small con ferences, I act ua l ly go t h roug h t he ava i lable attendee list, think about who might be at the presentation and specifically target individual attendees by connecting on Lin kedIn or research ing their organizations. I even tailor my language to the audience, using Google Analytics and an understanding of specific SEO terms to better shape my delivery.
I use old techniques, too. I've even gotten into the habit of walking the lineup waiting to get into a presentation I'm personally giving. I introduce myself and ask each person what they want to get out of the session. I moderated a program for a blockchain company during C2 Montreal. By walking the line, I found that most attendees were still confused by what blockchain was. I shared that with one of the presenters, who quickly added a few paragraphs on the topic, delivering more of what the audience wanted in the first place. It never hurts to just ask.
MAPPING THE SALES CYCLE
If you think of your presentation as a sale — and you should — and you think of your audience as your buyer — you definitely should — then it follows that you should use the same tools that marketers use to move an audience. M a rk e t e r s c a l l it a s a l e s c yc l e, o r m o r e frequently, a customer jou r ney m ap. T h i s i s
the list of steps that are required to move a customer from awareness to a purchasing decision. You can do the same thing. You can figure out what you need to do or say to the different groups of your audience in order to create the outcome you want from your presentation. Want your audience to take a specific action? Based on your understanding of the audience, map out the key elements required to get them there. Presentations are more than words on a PowerPoint slide. They are sophisticated sales designed to build awareness around you, your company, your new initiative or all three. Don’t just push content. Don’t just talk. Connect with the audience and learn what they want, and you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving your goal. Jason Thomson is the founder of Jigsaw, an “idea assembly company” focusing on idea generation, content development, co pywr it ing, speechwr it ing, pro posal development and presentation coaching. Thomson is also a pretty good professional photographer.
Make our city your city. Located right in the heart of downtown, the Halifax Convention Centre offers unparalleled access to big city amenities and entertainment. meeteast.ca
Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 25
UNCONVEN The Metro Toronto Convention Centre does local, and does it big By Gregory Furgala
Last year, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre saw 1.5 million conference goers, event planners, salespeople, presenters, exhibitors, speakers, tech workers and myriad other people and professions stroll through its massive atrium in downtown Toronto. Week to week, the MTCC shifts from the centre of one professional universe to another, enabling thousands of people at a time to gather, network and transact. It amounts to a lot of commerce for the out-of-towners and Toronto both. Last year, the MTCC reported that it generated $594 million in direct spending economic impact for Toronto, along with sustaining 7,622 local jobs and contributing $155 million in federal and provincial taxes. They're impressive numbers earned against stiff competition. Located in downtown Toronto, near the foot of the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre, the MTCC competes for conventions and conferences against the likes of London, Singapore, Geneva and other world-class destinations, against which every edge is sought. In Toronto, that edge is food.
LOCAL GOES BIG
The MTCC kitchen's commitment to sourcing local ingredients and emphasizing scratch-made, in-house preparations have become its hallmarks. Right now, 65 per cent of all the food and beverage making its way onto MTCC plates and glasses is locally sourced, including 75 per cent of the meat, fish and dairy. The wine list is crowded with Canadian labels, which claim 80 per cent of the space. At 45,000 bottles sold in 2017, it's a boon to Canadian vintners, both in terms of money spent and exposure to an international crowd. Craft beer is becoming increasingly important, as well. It's a commitment to local sourcing rarely seen outside of smaller independent restaurants, and a step up in 26 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
an industry that typically outsources its culinary programs, and for good reason: the scale is massive. On a capacity night, the MTCC will serve anywhere between 8,000 and 10,000 meals — the kitchen put out 12,000 meals on one night during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference — with 30 full-time cooks, 20 part-timers and a handful of temporary staffers. It's a logistical undertaking that most conference centres happily eschew. "Not a lot of convention centres are self-operating," says Richard Willett, the MTCC's vice president of food and beverage. "In Canada, you can count them on one hand. In North America, you can count them on two hands." The local focus is a doubling down on the MTCC's original value-add. The dining program was always meant to be handled in house, but despite the enduring rarity of convention centres maintaining their own dining programs, other operations nevertheless crept up on the MTCC and blunted its competitive edge.
The overhaul is the joint brainchild of Willett and executive chef Duff Lampard. Willett joined the MTCC in 2005, coming from the Westin Nova Scotian. Before that, he cycled through both back and front of house jobs in restaurant fine dining before landing in management. Lampard, before taking on his current role at the MTCC, ran the day-to-day at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, which followed a teaching stint at his alma mater, George Brown College, and an operations role in England, where he looked after 18 restaurants. Both have ample experience handling large operations, but the MTCC was of a different order. Start to finish, Willett and Lampard envisaged a three-year plan, overhauling everything. There was no tweaking, no adjusting — committing to a menu driven by local ingredients required a gut job. "We started all over again from a shell," says Lampard. With support from the board, Willett and Lampard ripped out the kitchen and replaced it with new, high-end gear and
TIONAL re-trained the team, getting them on board for the tumultuous few years of change. Lampard leveraged his connections around town and developed new ones to fulfill the scale of the project, which led to comically large buys. "In the spring, I’ve cleaned out entire fields of ramps," says Lampard, laughing. Operationally, Lampard says he has adopted a "back to basics" approach, again borrowing the practices of boutique restaurants and scaling them up to feed thousands. At any given time, 3500 to 4000 locally-sourced proteins are dry-aging in house. Charcuterie is taken care of in house, too. Herb gardens, complete with an irrigation system, were installed on the MTCC’s roof,
along with bee hives that, yes, produce honey that, yes, the MTCC uses. Ontario fruit and vegetables — fields a ramps included — are preserved on as close to an industrial scale as one found outside of a factory. It’s not all for show, either. Lampard says he gets a sizeable return on investment for the labour his team puts in, avoiding the middleman-added costs he’d otherwise be on the hook for. Instead, he brings in great product and turns a profit by making it world class.
Li ke it ’s open i ng days, t he MTCC’s competitive edge on food is sharp, and it’s proving to be more of a selling point than ever. In May, the MTCC reported securing 21 new
conventions in future years, including 19 from outside Canada — a facility record on top of the 24 per cent bump in gross revenue over last year. It’s not purely numbers, though. The intangibles feel more impactful, too. The food has a genuine connection to place and social and environmental benefits. Attendees don’t just eat, they dine on what Ontario has to offer, and organizers can see that that has value beyond the dollars and cents of their events. The old adage is true enough: the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. For the MTCC, it’s through thousands of them. Gregory Furgala is the managing editor of Corporate Meetings & Events.
Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 27
Joint rolling classes? Weed leaf arrangements? Cannabis legalization has given planners a host of new pieces to help build their events By Karen Turner
Taking your event to a new high used to mean something else before October 17, 2018. While the legalization of marijuana is still new to the Canadian cultural landscape, the future of event planning may involve many more shades of green.
The nascent and rapidly expanding cannabis market — t he lega l one, at lea st — b r i ng s a whole new s e t of opportunities for planners. Large-scale events like conferences are a great way for ca n n abi s g rowers a nd ret a i lers to gain market traction; they're also a fantastic way to differentiate your brand and get your company's name out there, too. I’m currently working with my first can nabis sponsor — a g r owe r a n d p r o du c e r — a n d f i n d t he potent ia l to en h a nce ou r event exceptionally exciting.
NEW STRAINS OF THOUGHT
Think about the potential for unique event elements: pot plant centrepieces, budtenders instead of bartenders, wedding weed and munchie bars, runner’s high clubs, trade show booths with weed merchandise — maybe even cannabis auction packages. 28 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
“THE LIST OF CANNABIS-INFLECTED EVENT CONTENT IS LONG AND GETTING LONGER, AND IT’S NOT LIMITED TO ON-SITE ACTIVITIES.”
Adding a bud bar service full of joints, glass pipes, one-hitters and small or large vaporizers allows for some great on-thespot educational moments to help guests discover their ideal strain and preferred consumption methods. There's even an opportunity for some cool team-building exercises: joint rolling classes, cooking with cannabis, seed-to-table workshops, glass blowing demos to create paraphernalia, high yoga — the list of cannabis-inflected event content is long and getting longer, and it’s not limited to on-site activities. Ta ke-home swag ca n i nclude a ny number of cannabis goods. For the firsttime, every nominee of the 70th annual Emmy awards received a swag bag full of high-end cannabis goods and gadgets. Similarly, speaker gifts could include highend marijuana edibles. Conference offsite activities including cannabis tours of a local shop or grower, cannabis lounges, wine and weed study tours, or cannabis spas. Cannabis lounges, like the holistic and membership-based vape lounge in Natural Budz can provide space for marijuana users to consume cannabis. As the space becomes professionalized, the options will become more numerous and better-polished. 30 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
UP-AND-UP, NOT HIGH AND DRY
Cannabis regulations vary from province to province, and sometimes even city to city — Richmond Hill and Markham, neighbouring municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area, both opted out of future plans to allow private retail cannabis stores, while others intend to allow them. Understanding these differences, and knowing which spaces can legally host your event and what it entails will help to ensure that your event is on the up-and-up. Similarly, event planners and event staff of the future will need to be educated on how to handle over-consumption and manage potential health risks caused by consumption of marijuana. Treating someone who is high might not be the same as treating someone who is drunk, and special training may be required.
GETTING AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Exactly what effect cannabis legalization will have on the events and corporate meeting space is difficult to predict, but it's safe to say it'll be substantial. Widespread acceptance means it'll be a welcome element outside of cannabis-focused conferences, and legalization means planners can actually include it as a line-item — if the local laws
allow it. And if they do, don't just include cannabis — incorporate it into your event's theme and amplify your message. Cannabis is planning professionals' new creative outlet, and it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Over the years, Karen Turner has produced fully integrated, award-winning events for a wide variety of Canadian organizations and companies. She holds a National Program Fundraising Education certificate and a Fundraising Management degree from Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton Alberta. Karen’s extensive experience of working and volunteering in the non-profit sector includes Saskatoon’s f irst Jail-N-Bail, a unique fundraising event through the Canadian Cancer Society. She developed the business plan for Tamara’s House, a nonprofit in Saskatoon that helps women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse and coordinated its capital campaign. Karen has been nominated by the prestigious CEIA National Awards several times for best fundraising event, best conference and most recently in 2015 for the First Aid for Mental Health event with Sam Corbett from the Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs.
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Corporate Meetings & Events Winter 2019 | 31 email@example.com
CORPORATE MEETINGS & EVENTS | Winter 2019