Every summer since 2011, Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre produce a new “Be a Host” video showcasing local business industry experts extolling the virtues of Vancouver as a meetings destination.

Released this week, the newest Be a Host video shows more of the destination than previous versions, and for the first time, Mayor Gregor Robertson was enlisted to help sell the city with a few judiciously placed visuals of the annual TED conference hosted here.

For many years, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) around the world have been attracting international association conferences in specific industry sectors by finding “hosts” in their cities who are leaders in those sectors.

Those hosts then act as liaisons between the DMO and potential association customers.

What is new, however, DMOs like Tourism Vancouver are making those hosts much more visible with high quality video content marketing. Moreover, the videos help source and enlist additional hosts in the destination who want to be part of the lengthy process involved in luring thousands of delegates to a global convention.

“There is a misconception that international associations simply spin the globe to pick their next congress location, but that’s not the case,” says Dave Gazley, VP of meeting & convention sales at Tourism Vancouver. “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.”

There’s also more emphasis in this year’s video on recreation options around Vancouver’s Stanley Park and the city’s famous urban waterfront anchored by the landmark LEED Platinum-certified Vancouver Convention Centre.

“We’re a big believer in trade follows tourism,” says Gazley.

Some of the largest events Vancouver has ever hosted were secured recently with the assistance of the Be a Host program, including: SIGGRAPH (14,000 attendees, August 2014); World Congress of Dermatology (10,000 attendees, June 2015); and the World Diabetes Congress (estimated 15,000 attendees, November 2015).

“Bringing the World Congress of Dermatology to Vancouver was one of my career highlights,” says Dr. Harvey Lui, 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.”

You can sense there’s a lot of pride for the local hosts in the program. Dr. Connie Eaves, who works on stem cell research at the University of British Columbia, adds toward the end of the video, “It’s always very special to have one in your hometown.”

We’ve reported before about how DMOs need to invest more heavily in their group-side content marketing. This is what that looks like.

Vancouver’s Convention Industry Numbers

  • 1 million – Approximate number of hotel room nights generated by conventions in Vancouver each year
  • $1,400 – Average spend of visiting convention delegates on accommodation, retail, restaurants, entertainment and attractions
  • 4.2 days – Average length of stay of convention delegates in Vancouver
  • $302 million – Economic impact of the meetings industry in Vancouver in the 2014/2015 fiscal year
  • 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
Photo Credit: Downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park. Tourism Vancouver