Vancouver set to rack up record number of conventions in 2018

Thirty-three conventions and events are scheduled to take place in the city in 2018

American Society of Animal Science president Steven Zinn was in Vancouver last week for his organization’s annual conference | Rob Kruyt

Vancouver’s reputation for being a beautiful city with mild summers, nearby nature and a culture of sustainability has helped the city attract a record 33 citywide conventions and events in 2018.

Those events are also slightly larger on average than they were last year and are expected to bring more than 100,000 delegates, many of whom are likely to bring families and embark on extended vacations before or after the convention.

Last year, there were 28 citywide conventions, which brought an estimated 63,000 delegates, according to the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Vancouver Convention Centre vice-president of sales and marketing Claire Smith has noticed a rise in the number of citywide conventions in Vancouver that are related to nature or sustainability.

“It has taken awhile for Vancouver to be recognized for this,” Smith told Business in Vancouver. “We certainly have put our stake in the ground as a city with regard to sustainability and sustainable practices, and it is nice to start to see that recognition and have groups coming as a result of that.”

Events that Smith cited as examples include:

•the March convention of global organization Sustainable Brands, which drew about 3,900 delegates;

•the upcoming August 19-26 convention that the International Ornithologists’ Union is holding, expected to bring about 4,500 delegates – mostly birdwatchers; and

•the November 11-14 convention hosted by the Entomological Society of America, which focuses on insect science and is expected to bring 2,000 delegates.

Steven Zinn, president of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), told BIV that his organization this year is having a much larger annual conference than it usually does, partly because its choice of Vancouver has inspired more people to attend.

“We chose Vancouver for a couple reasons,” he said.

“One, it’s a beautiful city. Two, we co-locate [our convention] with the Canadian Society of Animal Science every three, four or five years, and this year, before our meeting, we had the World Congress on Animal Production.”

He explained that because the convention would be back to back with the world congress, organizers wanted to have a location outside the U.S.

“We try to hold it in a more international city,” he said. “This particular meeting has more of a focus on agriculture and animal policy and it brings in many people from the Pacific Rim and Europe.”

Most of the ASAS conference’s meetings are held at the Vancouver Convention Centre while many of the delegates are staying at the Westin Bayshore.

“The convention centre is beautiful,” Zinn said. “It is the appropriate size for our organization. This is a great destination-meeting [city].”

Smith said she does not normally like to “pick favourites” among upcoming conventions but noted one in particular, organized by Women Deliver and set for June 2019, is particularly exciting.

The women’s advocacy organization is expected to bring between 6,000 and 8,000 delegates to its convention.

Smith explained that Women Deliver intends to pay travel and accommodation expenses for about 1,000 women from around the world to attend. Many of those women will likely be from small, impoverished villages in South America or Africa.

The intention of bringing those women is to empower them and have them mix with influential women – “very high-profile women leaders,” Smith said.

“The philosophy is that women deliver more than just babies,” Smith said. “They deliver business, economies and nations.”

Vancouver’s meetings and conventions industry supports more than 6,000 jobs and generates more than $300 million annually in direct visitor spending and $500 million in economic impact for Vancouver, according to the convention centre. •

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom