Canada’s $29-billion meetings sector

Jasper Park Lodge - a popular Rocky Mountain destination for meetings and incentives.

Jasper Park Lodge – a popular Rocky Mountain destination for meetings and incentives.

Canada’s meetings and incentive sector is an industry worth $29.1 billion a year according to a study by Meeting Professionals International. If you add in the cost of travel and accommodations it is worth tens of billions more. Are you, your partners and destination ready for it? Are you getting your share of this steady, lucrative, growing and competitive sector?

It is such a growing and competitive sector that Middle Eastern countries have recognized the opportunities presented by the meetings, events and incentive sector. Brands like Four Seasons, Marriott, Fairmont, Kempinski, Ramada, Hilton and others are making substantial investments there. For example, in May 2014 Starwood announced they will build 35 more hotels in the Middle East in the next three years.

Saudi Arabia, which earned $14.9 billion from tourism in 2012, believes hospitality will become the largest employer in kingdom. To reach this objective, Saudi Arabia formed the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau in December 2013. Dubai followed with the establishment of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing in January. French-owned Accor hotels have opened a hospitality training school in Saudi Arabia as part of this aggressive new travel and tourism thrust.

And industries are responding. For example, the Dubai Air Show generated $162.6 billion in sales within five days, and the 2013 World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Dubai drew the most delegates ever (1,000) and had Bill Clinton as a keynote speaker. The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia draws over 100 companies from 24 countries. The Middle East is a sleeping giant waking up to the economic value of travel, tourism and meetings.

With this type of competition Western destinations have to rethink and prepare for an extremely well-financed new competitor. It’s not enough to have facilities, it’s knowing how to work them, how to present them, how to pair them with partners and suppliers to make them work for planners, incentive houses and their clients that inks the deal.

I have attended conferences and trade shows, participated in fam trips and

Montreal's international fireworks competition brings a bang to meetings and incentives.

Montreal’s international fireworks competition brings a bang to meetings and incentives.

conducted site inspections in: various islands in the Caribbean, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, parts of the United States and all across Canada. I have interviewed planners, incentive house reps, destination and facilities executives, suppliers and sales directors. I know your customers and competition. I can help with your messaging, presentation and pitches. Keep reading.

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