Meetings from all over the world convene in Vancouver attracting thousands of delegates who spend money at the city's world-ranked hotels, diverse restaurants, shopping venues and attractions. Last year, Vancouver's meetings and conventions industry generated over $302 million in economic impact for the city.
"There is a misconception that international associations simply spin the globe to pick their next congress location, but that's not the case" said Dave Gazley, Tourism Vancouver's vice president of Meeting and Convention Sales. "For most international associations, the process of picking the host city for their major congresses requires a formal bidding process with competitive proposals put forward by cities around the world. In most cases, a city's bid must be led, in part, by a local member of that organization or association. This person often lives in the city and is very experienced in their field of expertise. We call them ‘Local Hosts,' and they are central to Vancouver's success in winning international congresses."
Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre's Be A Host program works to identify these local industry leaders, and to support and encourage them through the often daunting bid processes. Now in its 19th year, the Be A Host program has helped to bring some of the largest events Vancouver has ever hosted - including SIGGRAPH (14,000 attendees, August 2014), World Congress of Dermatology (10,000 attendees, June 2015) and the World Diabetes Congress (an estimated 15,000 attendees, November 2015).
Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre are constantly aiming to expand the Be A Host program by identifying new Local Hosts with the potential to bring a meeting or convention to the city. The benefits to the city are obvious, but there are advantages to being a Local Host, too.
"Bringing the World Congress of Dermatology to Vancouver was one of my career highlights," said the University of British Columbia's Dr. Harvey Lui, now president of the International League of Dermatological Societies. "It elevated the status of the dermatology research we are doing here in Vancouver and contributed to some stellar advancements in the field. The Be A Host program was absolutely critical to our success in winning the congress bid. And Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre helped us put on a truly spectacular event in Vancouver."
Vancouver's Meetings and Conventions Industry by the Numbers
• 1 million - Approximate number of hotel room stays generated by conventions in Vancouver each year. Source
• $1,400 - Average spend of visiting convention delegates on accommodation, retail, restaurants, entertainment and attractions. Source
• 4.2 days - Approximate average length of stay of convention delegates in Vancouver. Source
• $302 million - Economic impact1 of the meetings industry in Vancouver in the 2014/2015 fiscal year. Source
• 350 - Number of international meetings held in Vancouver since 2008 that required a Local Host for the conference bid.
• 800 - Approximate number of active local hosts in Tourism Vancouver's Be a Host program (meaning they are either currently bidding, or have recently bid on a conference).
• 45% - Conversion rate of Tourism Vancouver's Meetings and Conventions Sales team when bidding on some 500 meetings each year.
In 2014, Vancouver was ranked the top North American city for hosting international meetings by the International Congress and Convention Association.
To learn more about the Be A Host program and how it can support your organization's upcoming congress, contact Tourism Vancouver.