COVID-19 Situation Update – Business Events

Chantal Sturk-Nadeau
Executive Director, Business Events, Destination Canada

Amidst the uncertainty surrounding the COVID‑19 pandemic we remained heartened by Canada’s business community and the stories of people, institutions, businesses and governments coming together to support each other. Normally in springtime we are on the road, sharing the message of why Canada is the best place to host business events, but this year, like you, we are staying home to flatten the curve. While we maintain our physical distance we continue to work on recovery scenarios, reschedule postponed events and marketing campaigns, conduct important economic impact research, and make plans for the future. Our industry has been impacted in ways we have yet to even imagine, but understand this: we are all in this together. Here’s what we are working on to make that happen:

Update on recovery planning

As our partners are retooling their 2020 sales and marketing plans in light of COVID‑19’s impact, we are taking measures to ensure the Canada brand will be represented in key international markets where partners may no longer be able to participate, to increase brand reach and generate high quality leads when sales activities resume. Working with key partners we have developed a focused international sales and marketing strategy based on recovery scenarios that are dependent upon when travel bans may be lifted.

The recovery marketing campaigns will create awareness of Canada, tell the world that Canada is open for business, will stimulate interest and motivate buyers to book Canada. Once the travel ban is lifted, these campaigns will be staggered by market, or sector, and sensitive to the international markets’ readiness to travel. We will first target the corporate meetings segment to help with short-term business recovery, followed by the association market aligned with the key priority sectors to help build longer term businesses and help   We will then move into the global economic sector strategy once global markets show signs of recovery.

We continue to focus on market research and intelligence which will allow the Business Event team to hone in on target markets: geographically, by segment, and by sector, when sales resume. This data and key market Intel will be shared with our partners to assist with re-building sales strategies, when their resources are available to do so.


Signature events

After much consultation and consideration, we have made the decision to cancel Incentive Canada 2020 and will look forward to showcasing Canada’s incentive experiences, destinations and expert providers at Fox Harb’r Resort and the Westin Halifax in summer 2021. As with our other sales activations, we will be in touch in the coming days with affected co-invested partners.

As of this writing, Innovate Canada 2020 is currently on pause. We will revisit this in 30 days and will notify partners whether we’ll go forward, or if Innovate Canada will be rescheduled for 2021. We appreciate everyone’s patience in awaiting this update.


2020 marketing campaigns

Over the past number of days, we have been working with our third-party publishers to pause and reschedule our spring marketing campaigns. Once the timing of our recovery messaging is known, we will reach out to co‑invested partners with details and timing for new content development. We have also paused our social media channels and are looking forward to the day when it is once again appropriate to share our love for and from Canada.


Data and intelligence

While the long-term impacts of COVID‑19 are not fully known at this time, understanding the economic impact of lost business, events and group visitors is critical as we work with others to support the sector. Last week, we announced Destination Canada Business Events’ commitment to collecting and confidentially sharing aggregate data and intelligence on the impact COVID‑19 has, and will continue to have, on Canada’s business events industry. Working together with Meetings Mean Business Canada (MMBC), the Convention Centres of Canada (CCOC), local Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), and other industry bodies, we are taking an all business events approach to defining the economic impact of COVID‑19 and will be sharing a national situational analysis with you shortly to inform your own recovery plans.

In order for us to have the most complete picture possible, we need to ensure all jurisdictions are represented. To that end, if you have not already done so, we are kindly asking you to please submit a report from your CRM. Details of how and what to submit are found here. If you have any questions, please contact Angela Trunzo.


Destination Canada update on COVID‑19

Update (March 30, 2020): The government of Canada has updated its public-facing language on travel restrictions, please see the Public Health Agency of Canada for official government information.

Due to the uncertainty and quick moving nature of the COVID‑19 pandemic, please note that any end date for international travel bans published by the government may change as the situation requires. We understand that this lack of certainty is not ideal for industry who are anxious to resume recovery efforts. We have reached out to the responsible federal departments for clarity and can confirm that, due to the unpredictable nature of this global epidemic, and the fact that health considerations remain the driving force for decisions – the end dates for the travel ban may be updated at any time. This means the travel ban might be lifted sooner or later than the published date.

As tourism industry professionals, our best advice is to treat these published end dates as “to be confirmed”. Please check the following government of Canada websites: Travel and Tourism and Public Health Agency of Canada for the most up to date information. Rest assured that Destination Canada will relay any change in travel restriction dates as soon as the information becomes available.

Now more than ever, we will leverage the power of Team Canada to align and support us through the times ahead, and will direct you to resources available to support your businesses.


Webinar with The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

For those who were unable to attend this week’s webinar with Minister Joly, you can access a recording of the event here.


Support for small businesses

On March 27, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new measures to support small businesses dealing with the economic impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Read more here.


Sales activations

We continue to monitor all Business Events-led sales activations, and are advising affected partners and processing event refunds as changes occur. We appreciate your ongoing patience as we work through this process.


Postponed or cancelled events (as of March 27)

March 31-April 4, Accor’s Global Meeting Exchange (postponed TBA)

April 15-17, Association World Congress (postponed Dec. 2020)

April 28-30, Seattle Sales Mission (postponed fall TBA)

May 12-14, IMEX Frankfurt (cancelled)

May 27-31, Incentive Research Foundation (cancelled)

June 2-4, DC Sales Mission (postponed TBA)

June 8-12, London Tech Week | AI Summit (postponed to Sept. 1-4)

June 17-19, ASAE ELF (postponed June 2021)

June 22-25, Collision Conference (cancelled)

July 16-17. IEEE Convene (cancelled)

July 26-28, Northstar Incentive Live (postponed TBA)


Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID)

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. This year, GMID  is going virtual. Join hosts Meetings Mean Business Canada, India and the United States to set a record for the largest virtual meeting ever, then stay to discuss COVID‑19 and its impact on our communities, work and families with panelists that include Chantal Sturk-Nadeau and others.

Date: April 14, 2020
Time: Starting at 9am PDT/12pm EDT/1pm ADT.
This FREE event will be webcast and open to all.
The webcast will be recorded and shared following the event.

Registration at: https://gmidgoesvirtual.com/


Rising to the challenge

It’s easy to get bogged down in the devastating impact COVID‑19 is having on our industry, our friends and our family, but we have found some relief in the stories that are emerging daily of Canadian industry and individuals stepping into do whatever they can to support our front lines in the battle against the COVID‑19 pandemic.

  • Canada Goose is retooling their Winnipeg manufacturing facilities to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
  • Bauer, makers of hockey equipment, are doing the same to make masks for healthcare workers.
  • Toronto-based BlueDot, who first detected the pattern of viral spread of COVID‑19 outbreak in Dec. 2019, days ahead of the World Health Organization is now working with the Public Health Agency of Canada and using their disease analytics platform to model & monitor the spread of COVID‑19.
  • As colleges and universities move to virtual classes Canadian education software company Top Hat — active in more than 750 of North America’s top post-secondary institutions — is providing its platform free of charge.

And perhaps best of all, Canadians now have a new term to describe how we are all taking care of each other: caremongering.

Wishing you all a hefty dose of caremongering as we move toward recovery together.

Chantal Sturk-Nadeau
Executive Director, Business Events

Destination Canada’s Business Events team is charged with growing Canada’s share of international business events by promoting the country’s unique meeting, convention, and incentive event possibilities. The Business Events team is the first point of contact for planners seeking inspiration, impartial insights, introductions and bid assistance for global events.

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