Business Events Canada (BEC) is active across the US. BEC employs a general sales agent (GSA) based in the UK to pursue business events from the UK, France, Germany and Belgium. The team also responds to opportunities from anywhere in the world.
While almost 80% of all meetings and conventions business comes to Canada from the US, Canada’s market share is slowly and steadily increasing in the other target geo-markets.
The Belgian market—specifically Brussels—is one of the major European hubs for international and European associations and congresses. Overall business-events travel from Belgium to Canada is relatively small, but this market is sought after more for its decision-making power and influence than its travellers. As the seat of the European parliament, international and European associations and congresses naturally gravitate to, and set up their headquarters in Belgium. BEC’s strategy is to work with partner stakeholders interested in developing this market in a support capacity and to enhance the Canada brand presence among this clientele. Brussels itself is not highly prized as an incentive or corporate meetings market: although some third parties exist in this market, the focus of in-market initiatives and solicitations focus primarily on international associations and congresses.
The French market has been a stable feeder market for Canada, and the Canada brand has a strong presence in France. The French have always seen Canada as a natural destination choice for both historical reasons and their adventurous nature, whether visiting on a leisure or incentive trip. French corporations have a strong tradition of offering incentive trips to their top performers, which in turn has created a strong third-party incentive-house industry in France. The country’s air capacity has remained consistent, with regular daily flights to several Canadian destinations making entry to Canada easy. With the new European free-trade deal recently ratified, significant increases in business travel are sure to follow.
The German economy has generally fared better than those of its neighbours during the global downturn, and German companies have cut back less than anticipated. Germany, like France, has a high proportion of leisure travellers coming to Canada and a similar volume of business travellers. As few international congresses are headquartered in Germany, BEC focuses on corporate meetings and incentive travel. Like France, Germany has a strong third-party incentive-house network and boasts the highest spend per trip of any European country.
The UK is Canada’s primary European feeder market from both a leisure and business events perspective. While the UK has had significant economic woes, Canada has still shown small but steady increases in long-haul market share. With several hundred international congress headquartered in London as well as more than 1,000 corporations and incentive houses apt to consider Canada as a meeting destination, BEC sees both medium- to long-term potential for increasing both receipts and visitation to Canada. This market is by far the most competitive in Europe in the business-events sector.
The US is Canada’s main feeder market for the business events sector, responsible for nearly 80% of all inbound meetings, conventions and incentive travel. While there were significant drops in overnight trips from 2008-2010 (as much as 9.7% in 2009), the market improved in 2011 and 2012, with small increases to both trips and receipts predicted over the next three years. As economic conditions in North America improve, there is greater willingness to consider Canada as a potential meeting destination and longer-term booking patterns for both corporations and associations are starting to resume. Canada is currently the No. 1 location for outbound US travel and it continues to boast a strong 22.8% market share.