I recently returned from an all-too-short visit to Canada’s east coast where I was treated to some down-home hospitality extraordinaire from the team at Destination Halifax. After several jam-packed days of venue and site inspections, city tours and invigorating wilderness hikes near the iconic Peggy’s Cove, I was asked by some of the tour organizers what I liked best about my trip.
I thought for a moment about everything that I had seen, heard, tasted, felt or otherwise experienced in Halifax. At first, nothing jumped out. After all, Halifax is a destination that has everything a meeting or event organizer could want – outstanding accommodations, a vast array of venues of all types and sizes, unique historical and tourist attractions and what seems to be an inordinately large number of bars and restaurants for a city of its size. (People in Halifax, I was told, love to work hard and play hard.) In these aspects, Halifax has what most other large Canadian cities can ably provide for world-class meetings.
And then it dawned on me. What was the one thing Halifax could offer that I would be hard-pressed to find in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg or other centres? The answer was clear – the people.
Astonishing Tales of the Sea
Now before those of you in those aforementioned cities get all uppity, keep in mind that while you do have wonderful, friendly folks who can do a fantastic job of hosting meetings and events, none are quite like a Haligonian. From the airport limo driver who regaled my fellow passengers and me with the tale of his birth in a taxi while crossing one of the Halifax-Dartmouth bridges (can anyone say “destiny?”) to the cashier in the local grocery store who insisted on sharing her tips for making the “best biscuits you ever tasted,” almost every person I met who lived and worked in Halifax treated my wife and me like long-lost family. (My wife says I was even starting to speak with a Nova Scotian accent but I think I might have picked that up while watching reruns of Trailer Park Boys.)
Anyway, while I couldn’t necessarily single out one venue or hotel for superlatives (they were all excellent), I guess the biggest asset Halifax has to offer your next meeting or event is its people. Which leads me to wonder, what is it about your city or region that makes its people unique? How can you leverage those qualities into more meeting dollars or event success? Perhaps it’s not something you can fairly put a price on but the benefits can truly be priceless.
As someone sagely remarked during dinner one night in Halifax, while a customer may or may not remember what they ate when visiting a restaurant, what they will definitely remember is how they felt after they left (presumably not wretchedly ill). Visiting a city is much the same. While hotels, convention centres and attractions are all important when choosing a meetings destination, try to give your delegates an experience they will remember by changing the way they feel. And if you need some pointers on how it’s done, spend some time in the Maritimes. They’ll help you make your event “right some good.”