Home » Destinations & Venues » An In-Depth Analysis of Operation Status and Strategy for Overseas Convention Bureaus That Are Rapidly Rising Lately 3. Montreal

An In-Depth Analysis of Operation Status and Strategy for Overseas Convention Bureaus That Are Rapidly Rising Lately 3. Montreal

As convention industry goes from the competition among individual companies to that among networks, we witness the growing role of convention bureaus which operate with various stakeholder of the convention industry as its members. Accordingly, major convention cities are intensifying their investment in the organization, manpower, and budget for their convention bureaus, and some convention bureaus are rising in this novel trend. They are Choose Chicago, a city marketing agency for Chicago that has been reborn as a powerful organization by combining two agencies lately, Tourism Montreal, Montreal’s tourism & convention organization that boasts a history of about a hundred years, and BESydney, Sydney’s convention agency that induces continuous government investment with the greatest ever performance.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at the operation status of these overseas convention bureaus, which are focusing on strengthening their abilities to create demand. We hope that this will start discussion designed to strengthen the competitiveness of the domestic convention bureau, which has insufficient resources available compared to advanced overseas counterparts, such as organization, manpower, and budget. It is because one cannot expect sustainable growth for Korea’s convention industry without beefing up the competitiveness of the domestic convention industry, while the entire world is increasing investment for strengthening the capability of the convention industry.

3. Montreal

As one of the business centers of North America located in Quebec, Canada, Montreal is a city that boasts the attraction which mixes two national cultures, inasmuch as it comes under the great influence of France and England in Europe. As the agency dedicated to convention and tourism for Montreal that possesses both the antique atmosphere of its old town and the sophisticated, digital-based new culture, Tourism Montreal focuses on positioning and marketing the city as an event venue where MICE participants can enjoy unique, creative, and various experiences and actively develops and implements tourism-linked programs which are designed to extend the MICE participants’ stay by playing up the unique features of Montreal that exudes a good mix of the American and European cultures.

Created in 1919 and now nearly 100 years old, Tourism Montreal is an agency in charge of marketing and supporting leisure tourism and business tourism in the city of Montreal. First named Greater Montreal Convention and Tourism Bureau Inc. when it first launched, it renamed itself Tourism Montreal in 1998 in pursuit of friendliness and conciseness. While it is not independent agency dedicated to conventions that works exclusively in business events, it has its duties organized with a focus on the importance of economic effects and added value generated by hosting in the regional meetings and conventions, thus focusing on providing services such as event bidding, planning, and logistics support. It also conducts promotional and marketing activities designed to publicize Montreal as a leisure and business destination and host and hold major events in the city, while focusing in that regard on stay-extending programs, niche marketing, and management of associations and member companies.

The mainstay of the organization of Tourism Montreal is Decision-Making Forum, which has under its wings Executive Committee, Conseil D’administration, and Management Board. Decision-Making Forum is composed of seven major figures in Montreal tourism: Chairman Laurent Blanchard, who is the mayor of Montreal, Pascal Beerubee, who is in charge of Tourism Department, Sylvain Gaudreault, who is in charge of Foreign Relations, EEve Paree, who is president of Hotel Association, Michel Leblanc, who is chairman of Trade Board of Directors, Jacques Parisien, who is chairman of Tourism Montreal, and Yves Lalumieere, who is CEO of Tourism Montreal. The board of director of Tourism Montreal is composed of various leaders of the local tourism industry. The board of directors has 19 professional from the industry including academia, travel agents, hotels, restaurants, and airliners. 10 of these are professionals from public sector such as non-profit government agencies, organizations and associations, and academia, while 9 of them are from private sector including business.

A yearly budget of 31.5 million dollars (KRW 33.2 bil. won)
As a non-profit organization, Tourism Montreal is operated with financial contributions from minimum 750 private or public member companies including public institutions, hotels, PCO, and DMO. As of 2012, the total revenue for Tourism Montreal was 31.5 million dollars (KRW 33.2 billion won), and its major sources included 21.7 million dollars in accommodation tax and 2.3 million dollars in sponsorship from partners. Subsidy from government agencies accounted for 14.6% of its budget with 4.6 million dollars which included 1.4 million dollars from City of Montreal, 1.2 million dollars from Province of Quebec, and 2 million dollars from the central government of Canada. And 2012 budget was the size of 2011.

Quality upgrade of accessory services related to conventions and reinforced sales & marketing

① Strengthening marketing for attracting convention participants
The programs which Tourism Montreal prioritizes in 2013 among its projects in business sales and convention services focus on the strategy for attracting more convention participants and reinforcing participants’ activities linked to travel destinations. And the implementation strategy is as follows.

– Revitalizing social media and strengthening its usability to attract more participants, and providing prompt response to inquiries from participants visiting venues
– Providing special services for participants by establishing work cooperation system with the transportation division of City of Montreal
– Minimizing cancelled bookings through establishing a close cooperation contact with Tourism Montreal’s customer companies and hoteliers
– Aggressively promoting ”Hospitality Plan“

② Improving and reinforcing support for accommodation services designed to extend visitors’ stay
Meeting planners’ satisfaction with the services provided by Tourism Montreal is known to be pretty great. Established in 2012 as a strategy for maintaining it and extending individual participants’ stay, “2013-2015 Hospitality Plan” is a strategic program designed to encourage all stakeholders of the accommodation services, travel information, and visitor services to ensure that all visitors share memorable experiences. For this purpose, monitoring continues with focus groups in two areas (leisure tourists and business tourists), designed to more clearly identify the advantages and disadvantages of Montreal hospitality. Based on such activities, they are working to extend visitors’ stay by fulfilling the four goals below.

– Providing ample and accurate latest information that can meet the requirements from individual participants
– Securing accessibility and ease of mobility for Montreal
– Encouraging warming and humane contact in the host city (among residents, workers, and stakeholders of the tourism industry)
– Improving communication with the Montreal brand

And as a preliminary work for the establishment and implementation of such a strategy, a study was conducted in 2011 to survey the perception and satisfaction of leisure tourists and business tourists in Montreal in order to analyze the advantages and disadvantages that Montreal has as a convention city. As a result, leisure tourists visiting Montreal showed great satisfaction with the environment, arts, and culture, which constitute the environmental factors of the city, whereas business tourists expressed great satisfaction with the quality of the various restaurants and food in the city. Tourism Montreal is strengthening programs that can extend visitors’ stay by designing and providing services tailored to customers based on the analysis of visitor satisfaction.

③ All convention staffers acquire CMP and work in satisfaction management
In 2012, all Tourism Montreal’s convention services specialists succeeded in acquiring CMP (Certified Meeting Professional). They are actively participating in meeting planning committees in five regions and have performed support operations such as holding special events with a view to bringing publicity to the events hosted by planners. Thanks to the support from Tourism Montreal, Regional Dance of America (RDA) was able to hold a flash mob successfully, while Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) was also able to hold a regional event for the needy neighbors successfully.

④ Focusing investment in sales and promotion activities based on business campaign
A look at the key expenditures of Tourism Montreal in 2012 showed that as much as 70% of its budget was spent in sales, promotion, and advertising. DMO Organizational & Financial Profile Report, which Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) wrote based on its survey of members DMOs showed that organizations dedicated to city marketing spend 46.5% of their budget in sales, promotion, and advertising and 43.5% in employee salary and operating costs. In comparison, we see that Tourism Montreal focuses its investment and support operations in sales and marketing.

Such activities are aggressively implemented based on the Business Campaign, which Tourism Montreal has conducted since 2012. Business Campaign sets its primary goal in upgrading the recognition of Montreal as a leading meeting venue, and focuses on giving more of Montreal’s sales capabilities in target markets by concentrating on its advantages instead of overcoming its disadvantages. By conducting Business Campaign, the sales team of Tourism Montreal has succeeded in hosting a number of meetings and events, major examples of which include Cisco Systems that is to be held in 2014 with 3,500 participants. As the event was hosted, minimum 14,000 hotel rooms have been booked. And in 2014 and 2015, FIFA is reportedly holding events in Montreal. As sports market is a major sales target for Tourism Montreal, aggressive marketing is under way in partnership with City of Montreal and other partners. In late 2012, Tourism Montreal hired new dedicated managers, who would work to host events for sports associations in Montreal.

⑤ Strengthening digital marketing focused on Social Media Strategy
In reflecting digital?based marketing trend, Tourism Montreal established “2012-2014 Social Media Strategy”. The program was designed to directly influence the entire process of a customer’s purchase by delivering ‘an appropriate message to an appropriate person at an appropriate point of time’, and its key goals are as follows.

  • Encouraging the use of social media in implementing the entire project of Tourism Montreal
  • Promoting communication and advertising strategy directly related to social media
  • Establishing Ambassador brand with tourists, residents of Montreal, partners and members by inducing increased participation from regional ambassadors and thereby strengthening promotion for increased WOM

In addition, 2012 saw the construction of new mobile website, which registers 212,000 hits. In the same period, Tourism Montreal opened a French language blog, registering 63,000 visitors in the year and thus adding activities to the existing English language version. Moreover, Tourism Montreal is working hard to attract customers through online campaign by implementing online discount coupons and Sweet Deal campaign.

Winning 8.4 million visitors to the region and an economic benefit worth 2,400,002,500 dollars
As of 2012, Tourism Montreal attracted 8.4 million visitors and an economic benefit worth 2,400,002,500 dollars, which included leisure tourism and business tourism. As of 2012, project performance such as Montreal hotel and airport usage and information usage showed a complex patterns of increase and decrease. Hotel occupancy rate decreased by 1.4% from the previous year, whereas visitors to Montreal Airport increased by 1.0% from 1.37 million people in 2011 to 1.38 million people in 2012. This seems to be due to factors such as economic crisis and development of new tourism spots going on worldwide, development of virtual meeting technology, and decreased stay at travel destinations (venues). With regard to information usage, however, the number of persons who requested information or used information devices decreased by 1.8% from 97,800 persons in 2011 to 96,100 persons in 2012. The number of visitors to Tourism Montreal website increased from 3.2 million people in 2011 to 4.1 million people in 2012.

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