H1 Innovation industries will help lead the recovery of Canada’s business events
“We've been heartened to see our superclusters, our scientific communities and our manufacturers all come together in response to COVID-19.”
Canada has always been an alluring choice for hosting international business events. Its reputation for safety and affordability are well respected, and as conference organizers know, Canada offers a wealth of advanced industries to aid planners in creating purpose-driven events: content-rich conferences designed to engage audiences and expand organizational reach. In other words, exactly the sort of events audiences will be seeking once in-person meetings can resume.
Destination Canada Business Events anticipated 2020 would be another strong year of hosting global conferences. But, as a result of COVID-19, by early April, some 40% of the country's international events were either cancelled or postponed. Some events, like Toronto's Collision Conference and Vancouver's TED Conference, were amongst the earliest to pivot to virtual experiences.
“Like every other country, we've been greatly impacted by COVID-19,” says Virginie De Visscher, Senior Director of Business Development, Economic Sectors for Destination Canada Business Events. “In the short-term, many organizations switched their events to virtual experiences, but video conferencing can never replace the fact that we are people doing business with people; no amount of online meetings can replace the human connections and the new opportunities created when we meet in person.”
DeVisscher points to Canadian's naturally collaborative culture, and the country's leadership in life sciences, technology, advanced manufacturing, and CleanTech, as playing key roles in attracting global business events to Canadian innovation hubs.
“Leadership in those same industries that help attract conferences to Canada have been key to Canada's rapid response to the COVID-19 challenge,” says DeVisscher. “We've been heartened to see our superclusters, our scientific communities and our manufacturers all come together in response to COVID-19,” she says, noting many of the country's innovation centres like Montréal, Vancouver, Toronto, and others, are also highly sought-after conference locations.
When organizations choose to host their event in Canada, they not only gain access to some of the world's safest, greenest, creative and culturally diverse destinations, says DeVisscher, “but by contacting us early in the bid process, we can help planners connect with their industry's local thought-leaders and innovators. Collaborating with the wider ecosystem opens up the opportunity for unique B-to-B networking events, technical site visits, thought-provoking local speakers, and helps organizers create meaningful, purpose-driven content that will attract delegates to their event.”
The long term impact of COVID-19 restrictions aren't yet known, but Destination Canada's Business Events team are poised for the eventual return of in-person conferences. “Competition for delegate engagement has always been fierce,” says DeVisscher, noting that those organizations who can adapt their event strategies to create purpose-driven events, will be the ones forging the way forward for the meetings industry.