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Welcome Sweet Spring!  

For the last few weeks, mother nature has determined for us that spring has begun.  After a two-year hiatus, we tapped a few of our maple trees and have produced another great batch of maple syrup.    

The main reason we are willing to put so much effort into this initiative is because of the syrup that is produced with the first sap.  In early spring before the trees have had a chance to pull all the minerals from the thawed ground, the early sap that runs produces an exquisite and rare 'early syrup' that is the colour of honey and shares notes of caramel instead of the maple flavour we are so accustomed to.  It is unique, not typically available for retail and only 5% of any producer's results.  The uniqueness of this syrup is the reason why we haul everything out, scrub down, install, collect, boil, boil and boil...and then wash up post event and put everything back into our mini sugar shack for the next time.      

For your conference, what is your 'early syrup'?  What makes your conference so unique and of value that your members and delegates feel compelled to get approval to attend, deal with scheduling their families while they are away and fly themselves across the country to attend?  Finding that something that attendees can not find anywhere else and consider to be of high value is something we know is important to keep top of mind.  

Holding the memory of how fun it is to share our small stash and introduce others to this sweet nectar makes it worth all the effort!  What is it that makes you love what you do and put in the effort for the 'sweet' return?

Timely Yours, 

PS.  Turns out 2016 (#Sweet16) is being heralded as possibly the 'best in 25 years' by producers in the region.  Some have called It a 'sap tsunami' which produced alot of the light - light amber syrup:  a syrup that is highly valued by the Asian markets.  The Canadian market typically prefers the amber syrup for its more robust iconic maple flavour.  Word in the 'woods' is that folks are elated with this season's results.  

TOP 5 “small print” Details That Give BIG Returns 

The devil can be lurking in the details.  Here are some tips to uncovering some potential future issues:
  1. To avoid disappointment, when you receive your initial proposal ensure you are on ‘first option’. This means your group is not on a waiting list with another group considering those dates. If you are not first option and are ready to move to contract, the hotel will typically give the other group 48 hours to make a decision. 
  2. Ensure that your special concessions are considered.  Currently I am working with a First Nations group that will perform a smudging ceremony and play traditional drums.  A clause in your contract indicating your intended usage will go far to assure everyone understands how you use the meeting space.
  3. Schedule of events – does your group need an entire day to set up the room or move in heavy equipment like cars or large scale AV?  Or do you just need a registration table and basic room set up? Do you need loading docks, rigging or is everything coming in the front door?  All important “small” items.  Check for loading dock security charges.
  4. When reviewing your meeting space costs, ensure that setup/tear down time rates are reduced.  For moving out – does this need to happen after/before opening hours?  Large trade shows with vehicles are often required to move out overnight for next day cleaning.  Take an extra few minutes to review the times.  Note, overtime labour charges may apply.
  5. Option Dates - has your venue given you a required contract return date? If so what is the incentive? Is there one?  Is there an option date for your guestroom rate? Filled blocks by xxx date gives you a break on F&B?  These are all “small” items and more that we consider when negotiating for your group! 

If you like the content from this email, forward it to an industry friend.  Share your comments on our blog! Prizes throughout the year will be drawn for those who engage with us.  Be the first to comment on our blog and you will receive two ballots!

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Honey production in Alberta, the top producer in Canada, was 42.8 million pounds in 2015, up 20.4% from 35.5 million pounds in 2014. In addition, yields rose from 125 pounds per colony in 2014 to 145 pounds in 2015. Who Knew? 
The Howes Group will be making regular donations this year (#Sweet16) to the University of Guelph's Honey Bee research initiatives.
Click Here for more information.

Parks Canada has placed ‘red chairs’ in Canada’s national parks from coast to coast. This location just so happens to be Canada’s first national park.

Where Am I? Submit your answer to by April 22nd, 2016 for your chance to win a $30 "bee basket", containing honey and bee inspired products.

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