The western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are major gearwheels in the Canadian economy. With natural resources anchoring a solid footing in oil and gas, mining, forestry and agriculture, sector diversification runs the gamut, from medicine and computer graphics in Vancouver to clean energy and food security in Saskatoon.
As a result, business opportunities abound in the region’s main cities—strongly aligned with the meetings industry.
After hosting 4,000-plus influential meeting planners for the 60th edition of PCMA’s annual Convening Leaders event in January 2016, Vancouver continues to add convention muscle on an ever-widening number of business fronts.
“With traditional resource-based industries including mining, forestry, lumber, aquaculture and shipping providing a stable base for attracting meetings and conferences, our focus as a DMO is to develop new business opportunities,” said Dave Gazley, Tourism Vancouver’s vice president of meeting and convention sales. “In that respect, we are seeing particular success with international medical conferences, along with insurance, financial, gaming, graphics and other areas of technology, knowledge and innovation.”
Launched in 1996, Tourism Vancouver’s “Be a Host” program has seen over 1,000 local hosts bring their meetings, conferences, congresses and symposiums to the city over the past two decades.
Integral to Vancouver earning International Congress and Convention Association honors as North America’s leading city for international meetings in 2014, the Vancouver Convention Centre offers a total of 466,500 square feet of meeting space. As the world’s first LEED Platinum-certified meetings facility, the Centre also stands out with its six-acre living roof, advanced technology, stunning curves and scenic views.
The city’s recent developments include downtown’s 147-room Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver. Slated to open this fall, parq Vancouver is a new $700- million “urban resort” featuring a casino, 329-room JW Marriott hotel and 188-room Marriott Autograph Collection property.
In Calgary, Canada’s energy capital, a well-rounded economy and business-first mindset powers a dynamic meetings scene.
As Canada’s technology start-up leader, Calgary claims more than 135 national corporate head offices, the highest per capita in the country, and Canada’s youngest, brightest workforce, with 60 percent of Calgarians holding post-secondary degrees.
“With a wealth of intellectual capital in the energy, technology, financial, transportation, real estate, film/creative and manufacturing industries, Calgary is where collaboration, innovation and meaningful relationships begin,” said Dave Sclanders, executive director of Meetings + Conventions Calgary. “More than a place to meet, Calgary is where we connect visitors with our city’s greatest resource—Calgarians.”
The bureau leverages that resource via its Champions program, which invites local leaders to partner with Meetings + Conventions Calgary to attract and create meetings for their organization.
Major venues include downtown’s Calgary TELUS Convention Centre and the BMO Centre, Calgary’s largest meetings facility. Covering more than six football fields, the venue, located at the famed Calgary Stampede complex, hosts major events like the Global Petroleum Show.
Heritage Park venues include the energy-themed Gasoline Alley Museum, with reception space for 1,000 in the Grand Hall amid vintage automotive memorabilia.
The Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence, created in 2015 to promote the “Canada Beef” brand worldwide, offers rental spaces that include a test kitchen, boardroom and 25-seat Demonstration Theatre.
Opened last summer, Studio Bell is the new $168 million, 160,000-square-foot home of the National Music Centre. Featuring a 2,000-plus piece collection on five exhibition floors, including The Rolling Stones’ iconic 1970s mobile recording studio, the venue can host up to 1,500.
October 2016 saw the debut of the 318-room Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel in YYC Calgary International Airport’s new International Terminal. This month sees the anticipated opening of the 142-room Element Calgary Airport.
In Edmonton, “sustainable visitation” is a leading strategic initiative.