CTC News

Trailblazers leads the way for incentive travel, meeting-planning industries.

Annual CTC co-hosted event in Whistler, BC, provides education and networking in equal large measures.

09 August 2011

There’s nothing like the sight of mountains bathed in glorious sunshine to bring out the aspirations in people. Trailblazers, the annual educational marketplace for select participants from the incentive travel and meeting-planning industries, reached new heights at its 2011 iteration this past July 15-17, in Whistler, BC.

The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) and VisitBritain led the marketplace, joined by partners this time from Tourism Ireland, the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Office and Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. Sixty incentive buyers from Canada and the US met with 70 suppliers from the hosting countries at the The Fairmont Chateau Whistler for three days of serious networking and information sharing. Canada was well represented, with 24 industry suppliers joining CTC’s delegation, which was led by Robin Thompson, director, Northwest Sales Development.

It’s a top-notch gig to get into: buyers have to apply each year and then get vetted by the hosting countries, so only the cream rises to the top. There is always a waiting list. Steve Allan, CTC chair and Michele McKenzie, CTC president and CEO gave the opening remarks at the Pinnacle of Taste reception that kick-started proceedings.

“Trailblazers is a great platform to build credibility and we’ve been enthusiastic hosts for 18 years now,” says Michele Saran, CTC executive director, MC&IT. “Incentive travel rewards top achievers, showcasing the best of the best, and this marketplace has become the template that other countries try to emulate.”

The marketplace heads for bonnie Scotland—Edinburgh, to be precise—in 2012. Stay tuned to the Trailblazers website for more info.

Elsewhere in the meetings, conventions and incentive travel (MC&IT) universe, CTC took part in the inaugural AIBTM tradeshow in Baltimore June 21-23. AIBTM is the sister show to EIBTM, the annual must-do for the MC&IT industry in Europe.

This first American show had more than 3,800 attendees making 11,200 pre-scheduled appointments between American and international hosted buyers with suppliers. There was a global feel, with 789 exhibitors from 52 countries, including a substantial Canada stand led by CTC. More than 50 Canadian industry partners joined in the hosted buyer program, while the group presentations included one showcasing CTC’s 3-D b-roll footage of Canada and another on the ease of having meetings in Canada.

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