By Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, executive director, Business Events Canada
Canada is home to the extraordinary, and Business Events Canada wants international meeting and event planners to know it. Strategy is key in elevating this perception in an ever evolving and competitive industry environment.
Back in 2013 Business Events Canada (BEC) realised that meetings and events can create a lasting legacy. They can be the first spark that ignites interest in doing business that leads to investment in the country as well as the exploration of the unique experiences that Canada offers international travellers.
With this in mind, we implemented a new strategy, at that point, and we identified seven priority sectors where the country holds a competitive advantage. These priorities are in line with the areas in which Canada is internationally recognized as a centre of excellence: aerospace, agriculture and food manufacturing, clean technology, infrastructure & engineering, natural resources, information & communication technology (ICT) and life sciences. The last two, being those which we have placed a stronger emphasis on.
Most planners already know Canada offers tremendous opportunities. By aligning with our vertical sectors and showcasing the unique experiences available here, we will expand on that knowledge base.
Our annual Business Events Canada signature event, for example, “Innovate Canada”, will be built around different key industries. Next year, the event will be centred around Innovation and Technology and therefore we are aligning it with the C2 Conference in Montreal to take part of some of the conference there. Life Sciences will be the focus in 2019 with Innovate Canada being held in another Canadian centre of excellence in that particular sector.
Setting up strategic partnerships within the industry, with organisations such as ASAE and PCMA, which are now looking outside of their own box to establish relations with associations that have an international impact within their own field, is another key component of our strategy.
Canada’s near-record visitation levels in 2016 are a testament to its reputation on the international stage as a vibrant, culturally rich and inviting destination. In 2016, arrivals to Canada outpaced the world average nearly three-to-one. In Destination Canada’s 12 international markets, arrivals grew by 11% over 2015. World growth, in contrast, grew at only 4%. This means Canada welcomed 19.97 million international overnight visitors in 2016, just shy of the record 20.06 million arrivals in 2002.
Our success is a combination of a positive perception of Canada abroad, our targeted efforts including international marketing campaigns that inspire events and meetings planners to choose us.