Canada’s tech evangelists: CVBs in UK for London Tech Week

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Five Canadian convention bureaux are in the UK this week for the AI Summit at ExCeL, part of London Tech Week. Their aim? To lure tech-related business events to their destinations and, crucially, the inward investment that follows. James Lancaster caught up with Virginie De Visscher, director of business development for economic sectors, Business Events Canada...

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Virginie De Visscher[/caption]

When we identified the Canadian cities that have an expertise in tech we offered a package that would include participation in events. London Tech Week, specifically the AI Summit at ExCeL, was one of those events. It’s an innovative approach for destination marketing organisations. I can guarantee Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary, Québec and Waterloo will be the only convention bureaux exhibiting at the Summit! The important thing is that all our partners will have a counterpart from the economic development world on the same stand. Business Events Canada is taking one third of the booth and the rest is taken by our local economic development agencies. It creates that synergy and those connections about how the world of meetings and business development work together.

What we discovered from our cities was that not every CVB or DMO had the knowledge about what their sector strengths were, so over the last year we have developed a strategy where we work closely with the economic development agencies, so in Montreal, for example, that would mean fostering a working relationship between Montreal International and Tourism Montreal. They have that sector knowledge, but they don’t have the meetings and events industry knowledge.

You never get trade and investment without a meeting. People have to go to the destination.

As well as exhibiting we will be presenting, telling the story of how Canada became a world leader in AI, for example. And we will be presenting to corporations and associations who are looking for growth into Canada, whether through partnerships or research and development or investment opportunities. We hope that if they are looking at Canada to expand they can host some of their events in Canada and that will lead to trade and investment. You never get trade and investment without a meeting. People have to go to the destination. It’s a marriage where you are investing lots of your money, so you want to go there and see what it’s like.


Traditionally we measure meetings by how much F&B they consumed, how many rooms, the meetings space, the airlift, things like that…but in addition to that, we also acknowledge the importance of measuring the long-term impact. With meetings you attract talent, trade opportunities, R&D, so the legacy of your meeting is far wider reaching than what we are currently measuring. Meetings are the catalyst, the thing that makes things happen. What Business Events Canada considers is the economic development impact for our specific purpose, which is another reason why we work with economic development agencies, because they can help to measure the longer-term economic impact.

We are trying to change the perception of business events by having these discussions with other destinations around the world that are trying to do the same thing – Sydney, Singapore, Dubai. Cities that are elevating their economic strengths to attract these key meetings. Business events drive economies and innovation. By focusing on the whole eco-system, aligning key economic drivers, priority economic sectors, academia and conference infrastructure, Business Events Canada positions our destinations as economic and innovation accelerators, fostering global trade and investment.”

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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