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Tourism Offices: A Value Added Proposition for Event Organisers

Tourism Offices: A Value Added Proposition for Event Organisers

May 22, 2019
This text is the fifth article in a series prepared by the Quebec Association of Convention Professionals (QACP). This sectorial tourism association contributes to the growth of business tourism in Quebec by promoting alliances between the sector's different actors, developing strategic knowledge and business opportunities for the industry.
 
The analysis of 2017 data confirms the economic importance of business tourism in Quebec. With a contribution of more than $625 million from business clients, this means that each week, an average of 63 business tourism events take place in the province. On an annual basis, these activities totalled 950,856 overnight stays or 10,920 per week.[1]
 
In light of these eloquent numbers, one should believe that an event organiser or industry professional would have the natural reflex of contacting a tourism office in the region they want to visit. After all, it is a free, one-stop-shop service that allows them to obtain the information they are looking for about the region: hotels, hosting capacity and activities. In short, tourism offices have all the expertise you need, right?
 
"I'm still surprised that there is resistance to working with tourism offices," noted Marina Pellerin, Commercial Delegate with Tourisme Rimouski. "In fact, once an event is too big for a single site, people are hesitant about contacting us for support. In a region like Rimouski, when there are large events, all hotels and partners have to contribute."
 
 
Marina Pellerin, Commercial Delegate with Tourisme Rimouski

Mrs. Pellerin remembers a major event that took place in her region a couple of years ago. "The clients were sceptical about participation as they had never been farther than Quebec City for their annual convention. But, after the event, they noted the difference between a convention where participants are left to fend for themselves (usually in larger cities) and one where the tourism office participates (often in regional destinations). We can do so much for clients; we know our region by heart, know who to call, what to do and how to do it. There are many benefits to working together. All we want is for people to have fun in our region."

Hesitant or poorly informed?

But if the tourism office is a regional specialist and its goal to welcome and serve clients, why is it not a natural reflex to work with it? We talked to Annie Léveillée from Tourisme Outaouais about this. "Often, clients are not aware of what we can do for them. We can save serious time for event organisers, as they won't have to contact all the hotels to get quotes. A delegate can do the work for them," noted Mrs. Léveillée.
 
 
Annie Léveillée, Commercial Delegate with Tourisme Outaouais.
 
She concluded with a hypothesis: "Perhaps organisers believe they can maintain a degree of control over their event when dealing directly with hotels, better bargaining power. But it's not the case. My role is to ensure that the event takes place in my region. I want it to work. I know the hotels, the number of rooms, capacity, pricing and I also know my client's needs. I can offer them the best options, what is best for their event."
 
On the other hand, hotels also have a role to play. Julie Fortin from Hôtel Rimouski goes one step farther. "During the event or convention organisation process, if we work in collaboration with the tourism office, we can offer specific financial benefits to the client. For example, Tourisme Rimouski will provide financial and technical assistance for an activity that will be added to the event's program. Tourism offices have budgets that are dedicated to promoting the region. So while hotels benefit from collaborating with them, the client will benefit even more."
 
 
Julie Fortin, Marketing and Sales Manager at Hôtel Rimouski
 
Mrs. Annick Gariépy, who organises about a dozen events a year for lawyer associations who are members of the Quebec Bar Association, can understand why some event organisers don't have the reflex to refer to tourism offices in the region where their event will take place. "Sometimes, the choice of a spot in a given region is so clear that I can understand the added value of working with them. However, if I take my last major event as an example, many locations met our needs for our convention, and Tourisme Outaouais helped us align our hotel and meeting room choices. I think that is a major benefit getting feedback from the tourism office when there are many great options. They are in a position to provide pertinent information and help us make an informed choice."

And what about competition?

The second constraint on collaboration seems to be competition. But cooperation, especially in Quebec's regions, appears to be the guiding principle. "We have many similar quality hotels in our territory, and together we have a lot of firepower. Hôtel Rimouski sometimes hosts very large multi-site events within a sharing and hosting process. We have a good relationship with our neighbours and partners to meet our client's needs. The goal is always to promote the region," assured Julie Fortin.
 
Christine Cadieux, General Manager of the Ramada Plaza Manoir du Casino in Gatineau, believes the same. "There's enough for everyone, so what is important is promoting the destination and getting people to come here. We need to work together. Some see it as a competition, but there's enough to go around. If the Hilton Lac Leamy is full, people will stay here. We have to help each other. Doing so ensures success. At the end of the day, everyone benefits if people come to the region."
 

 
Legend: Christine Cadieux, General Manager of the Ramada Plaza Manoir du Casino Gatineau
 
In conclusion, Marina Pellerin affirmed: "Tourism offices constantly update their repertories and know what's new in their region. In the end, the client comes out a winner. I believe that in business tourism, the client is the most important actor, and you have to work together to provide them with the best service possible. If they are satisfied, they'll come back."

The Right Words to Say It

If you would like to learn more about business tourism, consult the Vocabulary developed by the Quebec Association of Convention Professionals (QACP), which standardises the terms used, communicates them to is a network of qualified organisations and professionals, and contributes to standardising the basic terminology in this business sector. The vocabulary is available at www.congres.com and helps differentiate business from leisure tourism.

 

***

Information
Ginette Bardou
General Manager
QACP
Telephone: 1-888-969-1307
info@congres.com

 

[1] Source QACP 2017 Activity Repport https://www.congres.com/nouvelles/le-reseau-du-tourisme-daffaires-devoile-son-bilan-statistique-2017_1953

 

 


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