IncentiveWorks Works Again

with Martha Chapman

The busy show floor

Jen Traeger, Maritz Travel

The pumped team from YVR

David Han of the Las Vegas CVB

It’s no secret that meetings and incentives are big business – and growing all the time. No doubt that’s why some 1,700 attendees were front and centre at this week’s 2 day IncentiveWorks conference, its 24 th annual.

Just how big is the business? Lynda Hoff, National Director of the Business Event Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC), told me that the meetings business is worth $29 billion in Canada, more than agriculture, mining and entertainment combined.

There were 425 booths in the massive downtown Convention Centre for the trade show portion, along with lots of breakout sessions and lectures.

The session on meeting trends, presented by Jen Trager of Maritz Travel, was a real eye-opener. It seems we are in a perfect, challenging storm: a rebounding U.S. economy forcing pent-up demand for more meetings, combined with fewer new hotel builds and a sinking loonie are not just driving a trend for Canadians to stay at home for their meetings, but luring American groups north of the border to fill our hotels.

All very bullish on the incoming front; yet North American meeting planners are still being asked to do more with less – and with tighter lead times. “We polled our 2,000 sourcing managers and they have told us this is the toughest environment they’ve ever been in,” said Traeger.

It’s clear that despite technology nothing has yet to replace “real” meetings. “Virtual meetings were going to take over – and that talk has gone away. Face-to-face is crucial,” she added. At least that is very good news!

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