What is it about Vancouver that draws global interest from incentive travel planners? Renowned for its scenic beauty and endless opportunities for outdoor activities, Vancouver is also a cosmopolitan city with all the urban amenities – fine dining, shopping, museums, galleries, music and theatre. Exceptional cuisine, first-class hotels and outstanding facilities, including an award-winning expanded convention centre, are some of things that make the Vancouver experience unforgettable for incentive travel participants.
In addition to the U.S., the city has become a popular destination for incentive groups from Asia, India, Europe and Latin America. It is especially appealing to groups with diverse participants expanding multiple cultures, generations and genders.
“Vancouver has an incredible, vibrant urban scene with world class restaurants, nightclubs, museums and shopping, surrounded by an exquisite natural setting,” said Tom Ebner, vice-president, business development for Cantrav Services, Inc. “The downtown core is easily navigable on foot, so venue transfers are short and in some cases are not required providing tremendous value for incentive travel groups with short itineraries and limited budgets.”
“For participants seeking adventure activities with access to the great outdoors, Vancouver offers 30 kms of bike trails, fishing, kayaking and canoeing in the calm waters of Vancouver Bay, walks through the second largest rainforest in the world and cruises to the southern most fjord in North America,” continued Ebner.
Incentive travel participants can hit the nightclub scene or wander through ethnic enclaves; relive memories of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games with attractions and activities related to the Olympics, visit the aquarium, take a city tour or stroll through Stanley Park, the city's urban wilderness. They can also explore Vancouver's arts scene, as well as the city's cultural sites and historic areas, in exquisite natural settings. Many of these experiences are within walking distance from downtown hotels.
“Until recently many of the city parks and Olympic venues were off limits for private events. In August we were allowed to take over the Jack Pool Plaza where the Olympic flame is located to create a unique final night event for a financial services client. Upon arrival, guests were awed by the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, were treated to an exquisite 5-course dinner with French waiter service and were entertained by members of Cirque de Soleil and Ice Capades (yes, we created an ice rink in August.) The evening was topped off with fireworks,” shared Ebner.
Being a water city, yachts are a great way to allow guests to see Vancouver from a different perspective. A beautiful spring, summer or fall evening could include a cocktail cruise to Granville Island where guests are escorted to a waterfront restaurant to enjoy dinner in a beautiful, open dining room with an expansive, private sea-view terrace.
“As far as incentive activities, we customize everything for our groups-if we’ve got a mostly male group they may prefer a Private Whiskey or local Craft Beer Tasting as part of the offering, a spousal tour may include a visit to the Tea Merchant to glean tips from a Tea Sommelier followed by a tasting paired with house-made tea sandwiches and treats infused with various teas from their store. For the adventuresome foodies, participants can head to Vancouver’s North Shore to go mushroom foraging with a local chef, enjoying the fruits of their labour over lunch at a cabin in the woods,” shared Bronwyn Slade, director of sales and program development, Pacific Destination Services.
“Vancouver offers many unique venues. A short gondola ride and you are at the top of Vancouver! A buyout of the Chalet at Grouse Mountain gives guests a bird’s eye view of the city and ocean below. There is a large deck to soak it all in and each room can be themed differently to give guests a new, interactive experience at each turn. The mountain also offers fun Canadian Lumberjack Shows and Birds of Prey shows along with the opportunity to view two orphaned grizzly bears who call the mountain home,” Slade continued.
Vancouver has a great selection of high-end hotels and boutiques that are accustomed to catering to the needs of incentive travelers. Some of the properties include Fairmont properties (there are 3 in the downtown core), Four Seasons, Rosewood Hotel Georgia and Shangri-La. Many hotels offer ocean, park and mountain views. There is excellent airlift from many internationals destinations and the airport is only 30 minutes from downtown. “For incentive planners it’s important to have their attendees be immersed in the feel and culture of a place immediately,“Slade added.
Incentive travel planners will find that Vancouver's Service Edge commitment will exceed your expectations. Tourism Vancouver's "edge" is to deliver the best combination of customer sales, service and destination value anywhere in the world. Whether you're planning a small incentive program or a large meeting, Tourism Vancouver is your first point of contact for a successful event. Vancouver's new meeting professionals' guide is available in a digital interactive format. The "e-flip book" features floor plans, photo slideshows, videos and a comprehensive list of services, in addition to handy articles (think "Top 10 Reasons to Meet in Vancouver"; how to source local DMOs and PCOs; green initiatives; and more). To view a copy of the guide go to http://www.tourismvancouver.com/meetings/.
Vice President, Meeting and Convention Sales
Photos Courtesy of Tourism Vancouver