Vancouver gets top marks for hosting international meetings
City garners praise for its facilities and strategic marketing initiatives
Vancouver has been named in two industry rankings as one of the top North American destinations for international meetings.
Amsterdam’s International Congress and Convention Association and Kansas City-based Watkins Research Group both heaped praise on Vancouver, citing facilities and strategic marketing as the city’s major strengths.
The ICCA ranking is based on the total number of international meetings held in a city last year. Vancouver, with 78, ranked 29th overall and first among North American cities. The top four cities are all located in Europe: Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Barcelona, Spain. Singapore, seventh, is the top Asian destination.
“To get that designation from the ICCA, that’s a real selling feature for us,” said Dave Gazley, a vicepresident at Tourism Vancouver. “International meetings are great because delegates stay longer … They will plan years in advance and bring their family. They may go out to Kelowna, Whistler, Victoria and really experience Vancouver and B.C., because they’ve come all this way.”
The Watkins report, a survey based on global convention organizers’ opinions, intentions and experiences, had Vancouver placing second among 40 North American cities, and tops in Canada. The city ranked first in four categories: convention centre facilities, convention centre services, destination safety and security, and convention and visitors bureau marketing organization.
The Vancouver Convention Centre hosted 557 events in 2015, and bookings in 2016 continue to be strong. Bookings for the convention centre now firmly stretch out to 2026, with additional tentative bookings out to 2028.
“We’ve made an active effort in that regard because we’ve found that international delegates spend more when they are in the city,” said Craig Lehto, general manager of the Vancouver Convention Centre. “These rankings get people’s attention, and the number of people receiving them is substantial … It validates the efforts we’ve made collectively.”
The global market for international meetings continues to be on the rise. According to ICCA, the number of such conventions grew from 8,294 in 2009 to 12,076 last year. The same report showed Canada on the rise, entering the top-10 among most popular convention destinations by country last year.
Vancouver saw a record-breaking 9.4 million visitors last year.