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The Importance of Business Tourism for the Regions in Quebec

 The Importance of Business Tourism for the Regions in Quebec

September 19, 2018

This is a first of several texts prepared by the Quebec Association of Convention Professionals (QACP), the sectorial tourism association that participates in the growth of business tourism in Quebec by promoting alliances between different actors in the sector, developing strategic knowledge and generating business opportunities for the industry.

With regards to the tourism industry, we often think of leisure tourism, which is a synonym for vacations and getting away from it all, and not necessarily business travel. But the economic benefits associated with business tourism sometimes surpass, for many regions of Quebec, revenue associated with leisure tourism. But when we talk about business tourism, what are we really talking about?

Business tourism designates all individual or group travel with professional objectives and it is often forgotten by the industry. Business tourism, especially for meetings and conventions, represents a major share of the market for tourism destinations in Quebec, and it is a major factor for the survival of certain regions.

Convention tourism is at its peak during the fall and winter, and reaches a vast clientele, while leisure tourism is an industry principally based on small tourism sectors and mainly during the summer season. "These are two complementary poles which often allow regions to survive throughout the year," explained Steeve Gagné, President of the Quebec Association of Convention Professionals and Tourism Coordinator, Communications and Marketing for Tourisme Victoriaville et sa région.

"If I think of my own destination," noted Mr. Gagné referring to Victoriaville "we would lose closed to 60% of our annual revenue if, for one reason or another, we abandoned business tourism. This financial contribution is also as important for other Quebec destinations, as we have indicated in the data collected by the QACP."

Nancy Lambert, Tourism and Convention Manager with Saint-Hyacinthe Technopole, knows what she is talking about. When the Hôtel des Seigneurs (100,000 ft2 of meeting spaces, 290 rooms) closed in 2013, Saint-Hyacinthe, one of the main regions in Quebec that relied on business tourism, went through an important reduction in business conventions and events which had a direct impact on economic benefits for the region.

"Saint-Hyacinthe was one of the major regions for business tourism in Quebec, and suddenly everything stopped," stated Mrs. Lambert. "The region experienced economic losses of more than $50 million between 2013-2017. The new infrastructure offered to business visitors was designed to meet new needs and trends in the market. The new Saint-Hyacinthe Convention Centre, built and financed by the City, opened its doors in 2017 and offers 63,000 ft2 of space. A private partner built the adjacent Hotel Sheraton. This establishment, which opened in June of 2018, offers 223 rooms and different services such as a restaurant and underground parking. To ease visitor movements, a walkway links the new Convention Centre with a shopping centre. The new offer combining the Convention Centre, the Sheraton Hotel and the Espace Saint-Hyacinthe offers 230,000 ft2 of space."

During its 2017-2019 strategic planning, Saint-Hyacinthe Technopole developed the objective of welcoming, on an annual basis, 80 conventions and events with 40 or more overnight stays. "If the trend continues, this goal will be reached by the end of 2018," confirmed Mrs. Lambert. "This incredible feat is possible thanks to the collaboration between the industry and partners for business tourism, the creation of an Ambassador's Circle and a major promotional campaign." 

What is a "Good" Business Destination?

According to the president of the QACP, a business destination will be successful in this tourism sector if it fulfills certain criteria. The quality of the infrastructure and the quality of the offer (both service, food and drink) are very important factors. Each region also needs to highlight its distinct personality. "People love change from their everyday lives and like to experience different lifestyles. If they hold their annual convention in Charlevoix, they want to experience Charlevoix and discover the region's attractions, things that characterise the region," explained Mr. Gagné.

Tourisme Rivière-du-Loup is also a great example of a destination that was able to stand out and develop winning strategies to attract and keep business clients. "We adopted the strategy of creating a strong synergy among our different partners to stand out as a destination; this synergy allows us to propose a fuller offer for visitors," explained Marie-Ève Filion, Convention and Event Delegate for Tourisme Rivière-du-Loup. A committee of people from business tourism has also developed and it meets regularly to discuss issues, upcoming events and commercial actions to take in the region. Their common goal is to increase the notoriety of the destination of Rivière-du-Loup for business tourism and find the ways to do so.

"In Rivière-du-Loup, it is undeniably the synergy between business partners that has made the difference. Hotel and restaurant owners, service suppliers and tourism attractions came together to optimise their services offered to tourists. A simple call to Tourisme Rivière-du-Loup will allow the client to be taken care of from A-Z," concluded Mrs. Filion.

Nancy Lambert, from Saint-Hyacinthe Technopole, continued: "In our region, business tourism allows us to "deseasonalise" tourism. It is a market that complements leisure tourism. Given that 60% of Quebecers live in a 90 minute radius from Saint-Hyacinthe, leisure tourists are often "excursionists" while business tourists generate overnight stays. Our geographical location, our new infrastructure and our expertise in business tourism are certainly our main assets."

The Words that Matter

If you would like to learn more, the QACP has developed a Business Tourism Vocabulary to standardise terms to be used, to be communicated in its network and contribute to standardising the core terminology in the sphere of tourism activity.

Ginette Bardou
General Manager
Telephone : 1 888 969-1307

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