Open for business: Government focus is an opportunity for meetings and events

Government focus is an opportunity for meetings and eventsBy Bob Parker

The current session of Parliament opened with a throne speech on October 16, 2013, and if you listened carefully to what was shared by Governor General David Johnston, you may have heard a reference to a proposed focus on increasing tourism within Canada. More specifically, this emphasis seems to be intended on bringing more people into Canada as visitors, rather than entirely encouraging Canadians to travel more at home.

This past May, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) revealed a fresh focus and new name – Business Events Canada, to focus on meetings, conventions and incentive travel. This recent change, along with a Free Trade agreement in Europe, shows a willingness for the current government to suggest that Canada is “open for business” for markets outside of Canada.

More tourism dollars have the potential for investment in facilities and services that also support the infrastructure of meetings and events in Canada. This would ultimately impact both direct and indirect spending within this sector. Government incentives for such investment would be a welcome addition to this strategy, as it would provide benefits that far outreach just the tourism economic impact.

The opportunity for the meetings and events industry in Canada is looking very positive as the economy improves, government deficits are being reduced, and markets continue to open.

Global Speakers Summit update

The future of the meetings industry was discussed at a session during the Global Speakers Summit held in Vancouver, B.C. on December 8-10, 2013. Bob Parker CSP, BEICC 2013 Chairperson; and Rita Plaskett CMP, CMM, BEICC Past Chairperson and Chair of the MPI Canadian Economic Impact Study, were joined by Michael Dominguez, MPI International Chairperson, to discuss issues that are affecting the global meetings and events industry.

On the minds of many attendees was how the United States, in particular, is responding to current market conditions and government cutbacks. Although business meetings and events are set to continue to increase at a forecast of four per cent, according to MPI’s 2014 Trend Report, it should be noted that the government participation in meetings and events is still being scrutinized at all levels. Canada will see an increase in meeting budgets and events by 1.5 per cent according to an American Express report, while Europe will be flat. A downward trend is anticipated for Asia with a 1.8 per cent decrease. One might suggest hope that the opportunity may be from delegates of Asian countries to attend meetings and events in the North American market – the CTC reports that overnight stays to Canada by Asians has steadily increased since 2010, especially from China.

As organizations become more global, meetings and events are seeing increasingly more diversity within the make-up of their audiences. This brings with it many cultural differences which impact engagement and satisfaction from the audience. While North American audiences typically are moving to models of more engagement with audience members, Asian audiences respect expert driven presentation. Meetings must find a balance of this approach to satisfy these differences.

The Summit was hosted by the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) and saw attendees from around the globe gain and share a global perspective on these trends.

Joe Orecchio, 2014 BEICC Chairperson

BEICC is thrilled to announce Joe Orecchio as the 2014 BEICC chairperson. Joe has over 20 years in the meetings and events industry, and has served as President of SITE Canada. A member of the BEICC board for three years, Joe brings a considerable amount of depth and passion for the business events industry. Joe will continue to drive forward our current initiatives and strategies.

About the author

Bob Parker is chairperson for BEICC, and representative member of CAPS (The Canadian Association of Professional Speakers) where he is the National President-Elect. He has worked in this industry for over 20 years as a thought leader on building high performing cultures and teams. You can contact him at [email protected], or [email protected].

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