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Like that old Rolling Stones’ tune, sometimes you can’t get what you want, but if you plan in advance, you can get what you need.
Here’s the situation. Canada is a hot, hot, hot destination this year and the United States is in a seller’s market. Data shows that Canadians are staying home to celebrate the 150th Anniversary and the rest of the world is coming to join us. This is a trend that appears ready to stick around for the next several months. That means conference venues and accommodations are in high demand. In fact, in some of the major cities, no vacancy signs are already up.

What does this mean to you as an event planner? You must manage expectations, both yours and more importantly, your Boards’. The next several months of site selection searches will require a team that’s flexible and on top of what’s going on in the market.

Yes, it's exciting to be where the action is, but consider all the issues that add up to your success. Prices are up and hotel occupancy is up, so make sure you do your research. Look at where and what’s worked in the past and have other plans firmly in your back pocket.

Scope out what you need for a great conference and remain open to alternative options too. If your pattern is east, west, central, you may want to consider the opposite rotation or even better, allow the proposals that come back to determine the pattern. At The Howes Group, we can help you by conducting multiple, concurrent venue searches. You’ll know what’s available and where. We’ll help you confidently manage everyone’s expectations with your event.

What will make your delegates eager to attend and make the best of their time together? Prioritize what your group needs and knowing what the hotels need is key to finding the right venue. This may mean a lot to negotiate. It may mean you’re going to compromise, and just maybe you should be prepared to walk away from the Location A in favour of the amenities offered at the less busy, but equally welcoming Location B.

Bottom line is this:  a conference is about business, results and networking. Canada has a lot of great sites, so if Plan A doesn’t work out … you already have Plan B ready to roll.

Timely yours,


Top 5 Ideas: To Be Prepared in a Sellers Market

2017 is a year of celebrating Canada’s 150th. Recently our fair nation was listed as the number one place to visit. Most major cities will be chock full of guests from around the world. It’s exciting…and challenging.
Consider this. Your Board has decided that they would like to book their annual conference in the most popular city in the country. They’re not alone. Every other association’s Board along with all the other conferences in the country want to do the same. Now you’re facing working in a city with hotels that are a hot commodity. What’s the best you can do for your money?
  1. HISTORY –  Before you start, gather all your past conference knowledge. Think about what worked and what didn’t. Take the best parts of each conference then build on it; from there you’ll know what you really need. Rely on your experiences to get what you want.
  2. SHOW THEM THE MONEY– Hotels receive multiple Requests for Proposals (RFPs) every single day. By pre-planning with us, we’ll help your request stand out. Know the value of the business that you are bringing to the table. Be realistic with what you ask for. For example, is it a board meeting for 20 delegates, or a multiple day conference for 1500 attendees. There’s a lot in between to negotiate. The more complete the request you deliver will mean a better response and details for your event.  
  3. PICK the small guy – When things are hopping in the big city, maybe this is the year to consider another city that really needs the business. While it is always great to be where the action is, but that is also a pricey perk. Take a moment to think outside of the box, and it will make a difference to your enjoyment and your bottom line.  
  4. CHANGE it up – Do you normally hold your conference in May or September? Do you usually plan for the highly-valued Tuesday - Thursday pattern? Consider changing things up. This flexibility will be an advantage when you deal with your venue. Ask your venue choice about times that they need heads in beds and bottoms on seats. If you can adjust your calendar and help fill in an empty spot, you’ll likely be able to deal up better options for your event and the delegates.
  5. GO to who you know – Did you have a memorable and good experience at one venue two years ago? We’ve got records and deep industry insight that can make a difference for you. We can help you to leverage your relationship and ask for a referral to a sister property. Many times, its all in who you know that can make your world go around.
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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When the days are cold and frosty and the nights are long, we might be a little low in spirit.  However, our Scandinavian neighbours, who live in similar climate, are some of the happiest people on the planet. Why? They Hygge.

What’s that you say?

Hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-ga’ or ‘hue-gah’) is the practice of self-care, somewhat like nesting but with forethought and intensity.

It’s being cozy, content and happy no matter what the weather. It could be curling up to read a favourite book, sitting with friends and soft candles, wearing your warm and fuzzies while you thoughtfully sip hot chocolate. It takes time to be Hygge-ready and it makes a visible difference in peoples’ attitudes and their happiness quotient.

Embrace the Hygge, and see what it does for you.  

Where is Desmond?
Standing tall in a western city beside a flame of olympic proportions. 

Submit your answers to by February 21st for your chance to win a $20 Gift Card.  


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