Check out the latest news from around the world by the industry's movers and shakers.
Check out the latest news from around the world by the industry's movers and shakers.
We have compiled a list of sources to help you access the latest information regarding COVID-19. Details and information surrounding COVID-19 are constantly changing. We will continue to monitor the situation and post relevant resources as they come in.
In a world where virtual connections are becoming the new reality, it has never been more important to connect with colleagues, clients or partners in a deeper and more meaningful way.
In the hub of global innovation and technology, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler has re-invented its meetings and events services, with enhanced hybrid meeting solutions and the option to run meetings concurrently at the same venue. The in-person audience can participate with any number of virtual attendees, thanks to state-of-the art technology and health and safety measures.
Attendees can experience the best of alpine living in-person or without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. From culinary experiences featuring British Columbia’s fresh produce and mountainside classics to virtual cocktail classes by the stellar bar team, Four Seasons brings Whistler to wherever one is in the world.
“Our mission is to create a bespoke experience for all participants, whether attending an event physically or virtually, our talented team can craft customised local experiences that will delight in-person attendees and inspire remote guests with the uniqueness of Whistler,” says Ali Mohammed, General Manager.
Innovative Hybrid Solutions
The Resort’s turn-key hybrid event possibilities and curated experiences include flexible, cost-effective solutions for small and intimate groups, enhancing the in-room and remote experience. Audio-visual experts are available every step of the way to facilitate the meetings. Providing multiple HD cameras, screen projectors, conference speaker phones, webcams and innovative sound systems, state-of-the-art technology and broadcast solutions offer the support needed so presenters and hosts can focus on a successful event. Full day packages starting from CAD 1,500.
Lead With Care
The health and safety of guests and employees remains the top priority therefore Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler will continue to welcome guests with Lead With Care, the company’s enhanced global health and safety program. Commonplace measures such as screening, increased sanitation, physical distancing and mandatory use of masks are in effect, while the team will continuously follow local health authorities’ guidelines.
Whether as an event requirement, for added safety at in-person gatherings, or simply for peace of mind, the Resort can also facilitate access to COVID-19 testing for guests through a third-party provider.
For more information on the different packages and offers, visit the Resort's website or contact 604-935-3400.
ATLANTA: Worldwide leader in travel retail, Travelport, today announced that expense management and travel booking software company, SalesTrip, is among the first group of customers to start using Travelport+. Travelport+ is an extensive, next-generation platform that creates a simplified, capability-rich, marketplace for travel retailing and is the centerpiece of Travelport’s new global strategy, designed to accelerate industry innovation in multi-source content, better travel retailing and delivering the best value.
Travelport upgraded SalesTrip to Travelport+ so that companies across North America and Europe using SalesTrip to manage their corporate travel benefit from an enhanced range of premium air (ATPCO, LCC and NDC), car, hotel, and rail content. Companies partner with SalesTrip to both simplify and calculate the value of corporate travel through automated expense management. Travelport+ is a key component that enables SalesTrip to provide easy access to superior travel content for its thousands of users.
Eoin Landers, Vice President of Product at SalesTrip commented: “Here at SalesTrip, we’re really excited by the vision for Travelport+ and how it’ll help us to deliver even better travel options to our customers. Since inception, we’ve advocated for simpler business travel through providing a single platform that manages end-to-end travel and expense management. Travelport+ removes API complexities and helps us to fulfill this ambition even further with their global platform.”
Jason Toothman, Global Head of Agency Sales at Travelport commented: “We love working with the change makers in travel like SalesTrip and are dedicated to providing our customers with the most compelling range of travel content in the easiest way possible. I look forward to helping SalesTrip and all of our customers in North America gain more value with Travelport+.”
Travelport is a worldwide leader in travel retail. Our next-generation marketplace Travelport+ connects buyers and sellers that share our passion for delivering exceptional travel experiences. Unconflicted and independent, we are reinventing a simpler future for travel’s complex ecosystem. We are a truly global company, operating in over 180 countries. Our headquarters are in London, United Kingdom.
SalesTrip is an expense management and travel booking system on Salesforce, making it easier for people to do business from places outside the home and office so their organizations can thrive in return. By managing expenses and booking travel alongside customer and revenue data in Salesforce, employees benefit from a fast and easy way to track and claim travel expenses. Companies benefit from automated reconciliation of spend against business purpose to prove how it aids company growth. The company launched in 2019 with customers located across the UK, Europe and US.
CALGARY, AB - WestJet today announced it will extend its temporary suspension of international sun flights to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean until June 4, 2021.
"We are extending our suspension with the clear expectation that as more Canadians are vaccinated, government policy will transition," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "We continue to advocate for the replacement of mandatory hotel quarantines with a testing regime that is equitable and consistent with global standards at all points of entry into our country. Alongside an accelerated and successful vaccine rollout, this policy transition will support the safe restart of travel and help stimulate the Canadian economy, where one in ten jobs are tourism related."
Guests with affected itineraries will be proactively notified of the cancellations. Since November 1, 2020, WestJet has been providing refunds for all travellers, regardless of fare class booked where WestJet initiated the cancellation.
"We remain focused on a long-term solution that will serve the best interests of Canadians," continued Sims. "A safe travel-restart framework is the most effective way to support those interests and restore jobs."
In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline's Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.
For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.
We can fix this and make events carbon neutral.
The Sustainable Events Forum hosts the 2nd annual Earth Day for Event People on April 22, 2021. This virtual event celebrates how the event industry is a part of the solution to the climate emergency — and how event attendees can achieve carbon neutrality.
Earth Day for Event People will shine a spotlight on 10 of Canada’s most beautiful AND sustainable event destinations as voted by attendees. Taking inspiration from CBC’s Canada Reads, 10 event professionals who host events in these destinations will make the case for their chosen nominee. Destinations in the running this year are St. John’s, Charlottetown, Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Banff, Vancouver, Victoria, and Whitehorse.
“This year on Earth Day for Event People, we want to celebrate the destinations doing the hard work to protect our natural assets. They operate tourism centres, destination management organizations, oversee water, waste and sewage and operate convention centres, parks and recreational venues. Destinations are crucial to reducing the carbon footprint of any event in their area and as event professionals, we need them as partners to make change in our industry,” said TSEF co-founders Candice Tulsieram and Natalie Lowe.
To attend Earth Day for Event People, register here.
About The Sustainable Events Forum
TSEF started 18 months ago as a gathering for event
professionals to educate, inspire, collaborate, and act on the climate crisis.
There are hundreds of events held live or virtually every day in Canada and while gatherings are important for people and businesses, they have a large carbon footprint. Making the events they host or attend low carbon is an easy way for companies to work toward carbon neutrality.
To learn more about TSEF and Earth Day for Event People, or to register for Earth Day, go to tsef.ca
2,500 young leaders coming together at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in 2024
The Production Agency blends set construction and full-service event production
Seattle, WA: Today, Production Canada, an award-winning production company that helps clients manifest their event vision into experiences with impact, expanded into the US market with the launch of The Production Agency. The Production Agency blends set construction, full- service event production, and a celebrated approach to client service, and are expertly positioned to build strong, lasting relationships with its customers.
As COVID restrictions begin to loosen and the events industry begins its journey to recovery, The Production Agency truly believes that live events are going to become more important than ever before. The Production Agency is excited to join their clients around the table to begin a renaissance in live event experiences, embracing a second roaring twenties.
Todd Skinner, Owner of The Production Agency, explains “We’re extremely excited to be expanding into the US to service our American based clients and look for new avenues for growth and to continue our mission to produce the best and most respected events in North America.”
The Production Agency offers design/build and strategize/execute services. Their construction workshop is renowned for turning ideas into compelling visual realities. Additionally, The Production Agency’s event management team will overcome your biggest event challenges. Be they logistical, technical, creative, or financial. The Production Agency genuinely believes that they can make a difference to the world of events and activations.
About The Production Agency: The Production Agency is an award-winning company that helps clients manifest their event vision into experiences with impact. Blending scenic construction, full- service event production, and a celebrated approach to client service, The Production Agency is expertly positioned to build strong, lasting relationships with its customers.
Come on in to the new Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery
“I have witnessed first-hand leadership from every corner of this country that made this multi-decade dream a reality. Our mission was illuminated by visionaries and sustained by selfless volunteers. Together they forged a path that was bright and lit—the essence of Qaumajuq. On behalf of the Board of Governors, we extend our sincere heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all the stakeholders that contributed to the founding of Qaumajuq. It is bright, it is lit. Indeed this new art museum is more than a building, it is a beacon where Inuit voices are front and centre in sharing their creativity. Artists, Inuit, various partners and community leaders have collaborated to envision and create a vibrant gathering place where all are welcome and where everyone’s stories are told and heard in a true spirit of reconciliation.”
The federal government will table its budget on April 19. The industry is now in a critical period to apply pressure as final budget deliberations are currently underway.
On behalf of the industry, the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses is specifically asking Ottawa for:
• An extension and enhancement of CEWS at 75% targeting hard hit industries until the end of 2021
• An extension and enhancement of the CERS program for hard hit businesses, including deeper support for medium-sized businesses
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP:
• Call (or email) your Champion MPs and tell them the wage subsidy and fixed costs support is critical and must continue until the end of 2021. Share these Key Recommendations for Budget 2021.
• Send a letter to your local Member of Parliament. It will take less than 1 minute and you can send via this microsite.
• Spread the word on social media. Pre-written social media content can be found here.
Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) is our industry's most important annual event!
On April 8, Meetings Mean Business Canada is hosting a free, 90-minute virtual event that will emphasize our industry's readiness to reopen the travel and business events economy as soon as restrictions are lifted.
How provincial industry groups will reopen in their respective regions
The status of domestic business travel
The eventual return of international events
Industry state-of-the-art readiness plans and safety protocols
How the business events industry can help rebuild Canada’s economy
More than two dozen DMOs & industry associations plus:
Destination Canada Business Events
Tourism Industry Association of Canada | Hotel Association of Canada
Global Business Travel Association | Convention Centres Canada
Canadian Association of Exposition Management | Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Light Up Blue on April 8
We're asking DMOs and their partners to recognize GMID 2021 by lighting in blue their local convention centres, off-site venues, attractions, monuments
and any other key meeting places.
For more information, contact Christina Northcott
Advocating for Canadian Meetings & Business Events
Meetings Mean Business Canada works in collaboration with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and Destination Canada Business Events to communicate the social and economic impact of the sector to all levels of government and to all Canadians.
Worldwide coalition of destinations working to organize safe in-person and virtual meetings
OTTAWA—Eight cities—Antwerp, Cannes, Durban, Edmonton, Lausanne-Montreux, Seoul, Sydney, and Zurich—have joined Ottawa, The Hague, Geneva, and Prague in the Hybrid City Alliance. Launched in December 2020, the Hybrid City Alliance brings together like-minded destinations to offer international meeting planners a simple, streamlined, and transparent approach to engaging with multiple locations for hybrid and multi-city events.
“Ottawa Tourism is proud to be a founding member of the Hybrid City Alliance and to contribute to the safe resumption of in-person meetings around the world,” says Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism. “The Alliance is founded on the principles of inclusiveness, collaboration and competence as the member cities encourage, promote, and facilitate the delivery of hybrid and multi-city events. With a dozen cities participating from across the globe, we can offer seamless options for meeting planners.”
Ottawa Tourism has gathered info for meeting planners looking to organize hybrid events (a mix of in-person and virtual content).
Over the past few months, the Alliance has conducted a series of focus groups and discussions with a range of industry stakeholders (including event platforms and AV suppliers) to ensure it offers maximum value to buyers from around the world. Output from these discussions will include a white paper due for release in the coming weeks.
Above all else, the combined knowledge and experience of the member cities removes barriers, offers solutions and inspires the creation of unparalleled delegate experiences. This leaves a lasting legacy in each city, while simplifying the role of the meeting planner, who is able to benefit from the shared knowledge of the members as well as their willingness to work together on a huge range of events.
The Hybrid City Alliance has partnered with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and will support ICCA’s North American Summit on March 30, 2021. This partnership will see the Alliance share case studies of recent hybrid events, assist in facilitating workshops, and demonstrate the Alliance members’ position as thought leaders and experts on the subject of hybrid events.
About Ottawa Tourism
Ottawa Tourism provides destination development and marketing, strategic direction, and leadership in cooperation with its members and partners, welcoming leisure travellers, business travellers, group tours, and conventions to Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region. Its goal is to support the local tourism economy, fueled by an estimated 11 million visitors annually in recent years and with $3 billion in typical economic output for Ottawa, generating community wealth through tourism. Ottawa Tourism’s vision is to offer the complete capital experience, tell the story of Canada, and get people talking.
For more information, please contact:
Jantine Van Kregten
Director of Communications, Ottawa Tourism
613-866-4955 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hosts Global (Hosts), the preeminent provider of destination management services worldwide, debuted a new (and growing) collection of global destination management companies (DMCs). The announcement adds 70 new destinations to the company’s portfolio with Hosts Global's Alliance of DMCs in addition to their current portfolio of Hosts Global Destinations.
With the increase in vaccines and travel destinations continuing to reopen, meeting and event planners are confidently penciling in group events again. From the start of the pandemic, Hosts worked on reconfiguring their global event solutions to meet clients’ ever-changing needs. This announcement marks the first of Hosts’ new developments to meet this resurgence.
“Groups are excited to gather again and we’re ready with new places, new members, and new possibilities, said Marty MacKay, Hosts Global’s president, alliance events and operations. “The DMCs in our Hosts Global Alliance are not just destination experts, they all deliver fresh perspectives and the ferocious creativity Hosts Global has become known for.”
Since transforming from USA Hosts to Hosts Global in 2011, the company has experienced extraordinary growth and continues to innovate through industry-leading initiatives.
“Though travel was on pause, Hosts was not,” said Jennifer Patino, Hosts Global CEO. “The meetings and events industry is starting to see a significant rebound in group business requests. This is just the beginning—not just for the industry, but for us. We’re setting the stage for more big news to come.”
Contact Hosts Global for more information.
About Hosts Global: Hosts Global is a strategic partner for meeting and event planners worldwide. We help visionary planners deliver meaningful, memorable and motivating group experiences in destinations around the globe. Across our destinations, Hosts Global Destinations and Hosts Global Members are known as the local experts, weaving ferocious creativity and intention into every moment, from event design and production to team building programs and everything in-between. For more information about Hosts Global solutions visit www.hosts-global.com.
Global Reach. Local Experts.
Clark’s efforts on behalf of Canada’s business events industry take the form of media interviews, industry webinars and meetings with elected officials. Government decision makers have gained an appreciation for the shutdown’s devastating toll on the industry, as well as a better understanding of how business events can help drive Canada’s economic recovery.
“Over the past year, Clark has captured not only my attention, but my deep respect,” said Margaret Binns, president, MPI Toronto. “In his role as chair of MMBC, he works tirelessly to advocate to elected officials and to industry stakeholders about the critical social and economic impact that our industry has on the financial health of this nation. He was the obvious choice for this award.”
In accepting the award, Clark recognized how the industry has worked hard to raise its voice at a critical time: “Advocacy is definitely a team sport.. it takes an army of voices and continual persistence to have success. So many of you have done so much for this industry over the past year. I want to thank each one of you for your efforts and your commitment.”
“I’m proud to say that the meetings industry has come a long way this past year in advocating to government for the support that is so desperately needed,” added Clark, who is also president and CEO of Calgary-based Rainmaker Global Business Development. “A special thanks goes to the volunteer board and the executive of Meetings Mean Business Canada. And a huge thank you to MPI for your support and commitment to MMBC’s work.”
MMBC works with industry partners such as the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, to advocate for immediate and appropriate relief for the visitor economy. These advocacy efforts have contributed to the introduction of new programs, for example the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP Canada).
Learn more about Meetings Mean Business Canada at meetingsmeanbusiness.ca
Edmonton to become first Canadian destination with health & safety designation.
Edmonton, AB – Explore Edmonton has announced a collaborative initiative with the Edmonton International Airport, Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels (EDMH), the Oilers Entertainment Group and the already accredited Edmonton Convention Centre and Edmonton EXPO Centre to pursue a city- wide Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STARTM Accreditation for Edmonton, positioning Edmonton among the healthiest and safest destinations for business and leisure travel in North America. Once complete, Edmonton will be the first and only Canadian destination, and one of only two destinations throughout North America, to obtain the GBAC STARTM Accreditation.
The GBAC STARTM Accreditation program is the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for facilities and destinations. This means the cleaning and sanitization programs of participating Edmonton hotels, venues and transportation agencies will be accredited and validated by the gold standard program that prepares them with the right systems to protect against biorisk situations, including COVID-19.
“Edmonton’s tourism, hospitality and events industries will play an important role in our region’s post-COVID recovery, getting people back to work, welcoming travelers back to the city and delivering important economic and social benefits to our region,” said Maggie Davison, Acting CEO, Explore Edmonton. “Edmonton’s GBAC STARTM Accreditation will ensure our international airport, major venues and hotels are all working towards the same standards for cleanliness and outbreak prevention. By working in partnership, Edmonton can safely reopen for business and provide one of the safest travel experiences in North America, from arrival to departure.”
To obtain GBAC STARTM Accreditation, facilities must demonstrate compliance with 20 specific elements including maintaining strict cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques, infectious disease prevention planning, staff training and more.
“Health and safety are always our top priorities and we know how important it is for visitors to feel both welcomed and safe. Edmonton's designation as a city that in today’s challenging world puts outbreak and virus safety top of mind will make a positive difference in attracting tourism, conventions and other events back to our region,” said Tom Ruth, President & CEO, EIA. “Explore Edmonton is working to make sure visitors know this is a great and safe destination and as the gateway to our region, we're on-board to support this.”
“We recognize that we live in unparalleled times. Hotels have always had strong cleanliness standards, but operating through a pandemic has amplified those requirements, ensuring the safety of our guests and staff,” said Barnie Yerxa, Board Chair of the Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels. “Our organization has always been one to collaborate with key partners within the City of Edmonton and that is why our organization jumped at the opportunity when Explore Edmonton brought the idea of bringing multiple organizations together to showcase our city as a safe destination to travel to when the time is right. As we’ve advanced over the years with state-of-the-art online bookings systems, increased in-room amenities and gourmet-level food & beverage offerings, the newest standard that participating hotels will incorporate is a sanitized level of safety, thanks to the GBAC STARTM.”
“As a leader in Edmonton’s Sports and Entertainment industry, Rogers Place and the Oilers Entertainment Group are proud to support the collaborative effort being undertaken in conjunction with our partners at Explore Edmonton, the Edmonton International Airport and Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels to achieve a city-wide GBAC STARTM Accreditation,” said Jay MacDonald, Assistant General Manager, Rogers Place. “The safety of our fans, staff and partners is of paramount importance, this accreditation provides third-party validation of the rigorous protocols we have undertaken to ensure a clean, safe and healthy environment.”
Edmonton’s accreditation process is anticipated to be finalized by Spring, 2021. Participating hotels, venues and transportation partners include:
EDMH hotels (38 participating properties across Edmonton)
Edmonton Convention Centre (already accredited)
Edmonton EXPO Centre (already accredited)
“The pursuit of GBAC STARTM Facility Accreditation by various venues in Edmonton is a testament to the city’s commitment to making cleaning, disinfection and infection prevention an ongoing priority for its citizens and visitors,” said GBAC Executive Director Patricia Olinger. “Through the GBAC STAR accreditation, they show their commitment to their communities by implementing a higher level of cleaning.”
ABOUT EXPLORE EDMONTON
We are the visitor economy and venue management organization for Edmonton. Together, we tell our city’s story, elevate the Edmonton experience and generate inbound visitation. We want visitors to have more than enough reasons to visit, explore and stay longer in Edmonton. In working closely with our partners & stakeholders, our efforts positively impact the economic diversity and quality of life for Edmonton residents, while remaining competitive in a global marketplace. In collaboration with our hotels, attractions and businesses, we strive to make Edmonton a four-season destination of choice, delivering year-round transformational visitor and guest experiences. For more information, visit exploreedmonton.com.
Vaccination Care Program to provide financial award, schedule flexibility and education
Marriott International, Inc. today announced it has created the Vaccination Care Program, which will provide a financial award to U.S. and Canadian associates at its managed properties who get vaccinated for COVID-19. Employees will receive the equivalent of four hours of pay upon completion of the vaccination.
Marriott International supports global vaccination efforts to help bring the devastating COVID-19 pandemic under control. To encourage our associates to get vaccinated, we are also providing education on the benefits of vaccination and directing leaders to allow for schedule flexibility for vaccination appointments. Although the company is strongly encouraging associates get vaccinated, vaccination is not mandated.
“The health and safety of our people is our top priority. Our goal for the Vaccination Care Program is to remove potential obstacles to getting vaccinated so our associates can put their health first and have peace of mind,” said David Rodriguez, Global Chief Human Resources Officer, Marriott International. “Marriott International is confident that vaccination is a key measure, along with mask wearing, social distancing and stepped-up cleanliness protocols and hygiene practices in minimizing the spread of COVID-19. As vaccines become more widely available, this will create a safer environment for all associates, and we believe that consumer confidence to travel again will increase significantly and help the rebound of the travel and tourism sector. We appreciate the support from our managed hotel owners, and encourage the industry and our franchisees to offer flexibility and incentives to their associates as a vital step in our industry’s recovery.”
In April 2020, to elevate its cleanliness standards and hospitality norms and behaviors to meet the new health and safety challenges presented by the current pandemic environment, Marriott International created the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council to tackle the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic at the hotel level and further advance the company’s efforts in this area. The Marriott Global Cleanliness Council is focused on developing the next level of global hospitality cleanliness standards, norms and behaviors that are designed to minimize risk and enhance safety for consumers and Marriott associates alike.
Marriott International sees the broad distribution and adoption of vaccines—for travelers and industry employees—as key drivers of economic recovery. Recent research indicates that half of consumers in the U.S. see vaccine distribution as key to travel. For many consumers, vaccination is a gating factor to their ability to confidently get back on the road for leisure or business travel.*
Marriott has consistently been recognized for its outstanding workplace programs. For a comprehensive list, please visit Awards and Recognition.
*Destination Analysts Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Report, January 18, 2021
About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 133 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy™, its highly-awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.
The award-winning eco-luxury oasis in BC’s Cariboo Region offers a travel experience tailor-made for 2021
Clinton, BC - For 25 years, Echo Valley Ranch & Spa has offered visitors from around the world the opportunity to experience adventure, revitalize their spirit, and connect with nature. Set amidst the pristine wilderness of British Columbia’s Cariboo Region, this family-owned eco-luxury retreat isn’t merely a vacation destination. Hundreds of guests have described their stay at Echo Valley as transformative – a once-in-a-lifetime awakening of their spirit and a rediscovery of their childlike sense of wonder.
Why do they say this? The 160-acre Echo Valley property sits majestically at the convergence of four distinct geographic regions: the Marble Mountains, the Mighty Fraser River and Canyon Desert, Cariboo Plateau Boreal Forest, and the Cariboo Grasslands. Here in this pristine, sustainably maintained* sanctuary, guests are able to achieve a peace of mind and state of relaxation that is all too rare amidst the chaos of modern life. “Soft adventures” such as hiking, cycling and fishing, and activities including morning yoga and forest bathing, stimulate body and soul, while magnificently appointed rooms and cabins, five-star cuisine (much of it made from ingredients grown and raised onsite), and European- and Thai-inspired spa services rival the amenities found at resorts anywhere in the world.
In order to ensure the well-being of its guests during these exceptional times, Echo Valley Ranch will be limiting its capacity to a maximum of 10 guests, and, where necessary, has redesigned its activities to maintain proper distancing.
For May and October, the Elopement Experience offers the perfect alternative to a big wedding, with every detail anticipated for the happy couple and up to eight guests.
From June 1 to September 30, Echo Valley’s bespoke Signature Experience is available as an individual experience and a property-wide buyout: guests select every detail of their stay, from meals and wine pairings to outdoor adventures and spa treatments.
“The global events of the past year have reminded us of the importance of respecting and honouring nature. At the same time, the stresses of modern life emphasize how much we need nature, to spend time in it and allow it to restore us,” says Echo Valley cofounder Norm Dove. “My wife, Nan, and I founded Echo Valley with the intention that guests could come here to reconnect with nature and let it rejuvenate their spirit. I’m confident that in 2021 and beyond, visitors will leave here with a much-needed sense of calm, as well as memories to last a lifetime.”
*Echo Valley Ranch & Spa has received Gold certification status from Green Tourism Canada.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about huge changes in how people take in live events, and two forward-looking industry leaders are acting on a massive opportunity to fill a need now, and lead the industry into the exciting future of incredible remote live experiences.
Calgary, AB – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on countless businesses in Canada, but perhaps no sector has been harder hit than the events industry. With legislation preventing in-person gatherings of any significant size in place across the country since early March 2020, event professionals have found themselves searching for ways to safely and legally stay active and viable through the lockdowns and restrictions.
At the same time, non-profits, festivals, meetings and conferences, and corporations and brands have been left trying to reimagine important fundraising, arts, community engagement, and employee events in a way that will carry their organizations through this time and to the other side. Too often, the options at hand are underwhelming, ineffective, and not in keeping with the legacy these events and brands have built over years and often decades.
But not for long. Two of Western Canada’s events industry heavy-hitters have stepped up to the plate to offer a solution that is not a compromise or a stop-gap, but rather a live event experience on par with the calibre both clients and guests used to expect, and still deserve. Experience Factory – a joint venture by Dustin Westling of OneWest Event Design and Pierre Marleau of Orange Frog Productions – is a 7,000 square-foot private broadcasting studio and hybrid event space fully equipped with both the technology and the talent to deliver a virtual event on par with the streaming services, awards shows, and sports events we all regularly enjoy remotely. The goal is to not only bring experience and quality back to the forefront, but to leapfrog the events industry into a future where live events are routinely offered with highly desirable remote options, alongside VIP and in-person experiences.
Along with live events, Experience Factory will service existing and burgeoning demand for recorded content – a demand that will continue to swell, and last long past pandemic restrictions. Recorded material for meetings and conferences, product launches, even television and commercials are well within the
wheelhouse of Experience Factory’s diverse capabilities, thanks to the high-end, integrated audio-visual, lighting, and design technology in one of the largest studios in Canada, along with the best and brightest talent in both events and broadcasting.
The foundation of everything is, of course, safety. Experience Factory is led and staffed by a fully COR Certified team of professionals, with dedicated Health & Safety Coordinators in place to oversee an exhaustive list of industry-leading protocols and state-of-the-art safety features. In a climate of job insecurity and economical instability, Experience Factory has seized on a way to safely fulfill a real need in the market, keep event and broadcasting professionals active in engaging and creatively rewarding work, and build something that will be relevant and exciting well beyond the eventual end of the pandemic.
More information about Experience Factory can be found at meetxfactory.com. More information about Dustin Westling and One West Event Design can be found at onewestevents.com. More information about Pierre Marleau and Orange Frog Productions can be found at orangefrogproductions.ca.
New Lifestyle Hotel Marks Marriott Bonvoy’s Entry into Tulum, Ushering in a New Era of Hospitality
Aloft Tulum, a brand-new, boho-chic inspired hotel managed by Highgate Hotels, opened last week near Tulum’s desirable downtown district and its white-sand beaches. The four-floor property features 140 loft-like guest rooms and suites and a variety of vibrant spaces for socialization and music, including: signature Ático Rooftop Lounge & Bar with an infinity pool, teepees for kids, and the destination’s only venue for corporate meetings and events. Aloft Tulum is part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of brands, and its first property to debut in Tulum, Quintana Roo.
“After much anticipation, we are thrilled to welcome visitors to Aloft Tulum,” said the hotel’s General Manager Sergio Parra. “It is the ideal choice for travelers who are in search of a boutique-like hotel with bold design at an approachable price point.”
Aloft Tulum is as impressive as it is expressive. Next-gen travelers enter the hotel’s lobby to be greeted by urban art that changes seasonally, modern furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows. While guest rooms boast 10-foot-high ceilings, plush platform beds and light airy décor infused with natural textiles to deliver the ultimate comfort. Each room includes complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, 55-inch LCD televisions, free signature coffee, Aloft custom toiletries from Bliss® Spa and walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads.
For mingling, Aloft Tulum offers several design-forward spaces including its Ático Rooftop Bar & Lounge. At this hangout spot, guests can take a dip in the infinity pool, experience local cuisine and sip on seasonal cocktails – all while marveling at unrivaled views of Tulum. Additionally, the urban hotel is home to a Re:fuel by Aloft, filled with fresh grab-and-go options; Re:mix lounge, the perfect place to mix, mingle and play a game of pool; and the W XYZ® bar, where guests and locals alike can enjoy live music programming.
Additionally, Aloft Tulum makes doing business and hosting intimate events and weddings a breeze with three multi-functional meeting conference spaces, totaling 2,761 square feet. Meeting rooms can accommodate up to 240 people and are equipped with the latest audiovisual technology, plasma screen televisions, and complimentary Wi-Fi. For guests’ further convenience, the property provides several high-tech features including a Mobile Key program for keyless entry into guest rooms and a concierge tablet.
Guests can stay in shape with access to the hotel’s Splash pool and Re:charge fitness center, which is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment. The hotel also offers special amenities for kids with Camp Aloft and pets with ARF (animals are fun pet program).
Aloft Tulum is situated off-the-beaten-path in a beautiful location on Coba Avenue that is just a short walk or drive away to internationally recognized cuisine, local shopping and recreational activities. Nearby attractions include Playa Paraíso, one of the most spectacular beaches in Mexico, Tulum Mayan Ruins, and the award-winning Xel-Há water park.
Double guest rooms currently start at $150 per night. Aloft Tulum has two welcome offers: Guests will automatically receive a savings of 20% on the hotel’s best available rate and Marriott Bonvoy members staying three or more nights will be awarded 3,000 points. Both offers are valid on bookings made before April 30, 2021 for travel through June 30, 2021. To book, visit www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tuyal-aloft-tulum
About Aloft Hotels®
Aloft Hotels currently operates more than 185 hotels in over 25 countries and territories. Catering to a tech-savvy, music-loving crowd, the brand offers vibrant, eclectic spaces that thrive off bringing people together. A brand for music lovers and music makers alike, Aloft is best known for its emphasis on innovative music programming through its Live at Aloft platform. Signature brand amenities include WXYZ® bar, Re:mix® lounge, grab-and-go breakfast concept Re:fuel by Aloft®, and pet-friendly program Arf® (Animals R Fun). Aloft moves to its own beat – it is Different. By Design. – using technology and design to enhance experiences and evolve with the needs of its guests. For more information, visit www.alofthotels.com and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Aloft is proud to participate in Marriott Bonvoy, the global travel program from Marriott International. The program offers members an extraordinary portfolio of global brands, exclusive experiences on Marriott Bonvoy Moments, and unparalleled benefits including free nights and Elite status recognition. To enroll for free or for more information about the program, visit MarriottBonvoy.com.
New leader brings years of optimal experience to helm the unified GBTA and ACTE, and lead business travel out of the pandemic and into the future
Alexandria, VA - The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the worldwide leader in education, research, networking, and advocacy for the business travel industry, proudly announces the hiring of Suzanne Neufang as its next Executive Director, leading the combined GBTA and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).
Neufang was hired after a comprehensive and exhaustive review of over 130 candidates from around the world. The months-long process was led by an independent search committee of industry leaders and staff. The search was coordinated by leading association consulting firm MCI-USA, which served as a third-party hub to screen applicants and facilitate the extensive interview process.
“The independent search committee has provided GBTA with an exceptional leader for the future of our Association and industry. Suzanne is unquestionably the visionary to lead business travel to a complete recovery in the years ahead,” said Bhart Sarin, President of GBTA, “It will be a distinct privilege to support her as we complete our integration of GBTA and ACTE and build on the momentum of the Ready. Safe. Travel. campaign toward our annual convention in July.”
Neufang, whose diverse executive career has included senior leadership roles with several high-profile travel and technology companies, most recently served as Senior Vice President-Americas for HRS Global Hotel Solutions. Before HRS, Neufang worked for 10 years as an executive leader with Sabre Travel Network, GetThere and Travelocity and later as a divisional Chief Marketing Officer for Fortune 500 software giant Intuit. An active member of GBTA since 2005, Neufang led ACTE as Board President from 2012 to 2014 and as a Board Member from 2014 to 2018. She served as ACTE’s interim Executive Director during summer 2012.
Neufang described the opportunity to lead GBTA as a “pinnacle career opportunity” and an important way to give back to an industry she loves, and which has offered her many opportunities. “It’s not a secret that business travel is at an historic low point as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in crises we find opportunities to be bold and to excel,” said Neufang. “Business travel has been down before and we have recovered – always coming back more technologically savvy, data-focused, and globally connected. The key questions for me are when we as an industry will recover, and how we as GBTA can drive economic and industry recovery to be even faster.
“We need to emerge from this pandemic as a healthier, more transparent association, one with the strongest possible, globally-focused foundation. As an organization, I believe we can work together to provide more value, better education and research, and even more effective advocacy for our members and sponsors. I’m very much looking forward to working with the professional staff at GBTA – and the Board, members, sponsors, and regional partners – who have had a long track record of growth and success serving the business travel community.”
Neufang will take over on February 24 from Dave Hilfman, who since July 2020 has served as the Association’s interim executive director. Hilfman will remain with GBTA in a temporary consulting role to smooth the transition.
“It’s been a privilege serving the business travel industry in this interim role over the past eight months and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” said Hilfman, who retired from United Airlines as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales in 2018. “To be entrusted to lead the largest business travel association in the world at a truly consequential moment in our history is a true honor. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together and the significant progress made to date. My sincere thanks to the Staff, Board and members of GBTA for all their support. Stepping aside for Suzanne is easy, because she understands business travel from the buyer and supplier perspectives like few people I’ve ever met.”
About the Global Business Travel Association:
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion in global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit www.gbta.org.
Bethesda, MD - It is with profound sadness that Marriott International announces that Arne M. Sorenson, President and CEO, unexpectedly passed away on February 15, 2021. In May 2019, the company announced that Mr. Sorenson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On February 2, 2021, Marriott shared the news that Mr. Sorenson would temporarily reduce his schedule to facilitate more demanding treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Sorenson became the third CEO in Marriott’s history in 2012, and the first without the Marriott surname. A visionary leader, Mr. Sorenson put the company on a strong growth trajectory that included the $13-billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. During his tenure as CEO, Mr. Sorenson was tireless in driving the company’s progress, creating opportunities for associates, growth for owners and franchisees and results for the company’s shareholders. Known for his leadership on difficult national and global issues, Mr. Sorenson steered Marriott to make significant progress on diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and human trafficking awareness.
“Arne was an exceptional executive – but more than that – he was an exceptional human being,” said J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board. “Arne loved every aspect of this business and relished time spent touring our hotels and meeting associates around the world. He had an uncanny ability to anticipate where the hospitality industry was headed and position Marriott for growth. But the roles he relished the most were as husband, father, brother and friend. On behalf of the Board and Marriott’s hundreds of thousands of associates around the world, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Arne’s wife and four children. We share your heartbreak, and we will miss Arne deeply.”
When Mr. Sorenson stepped back from full-time management in early February, the company tapped two veteran Marriott executives, Stephanie Linnartz, Group President, Consumer Operations, Technology and Emerging Businesses, and Tony Capuano, Group President, Global Development, Design and Operations Services, to share responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company’s business units and corporate functions, in addition to maintaining their current responsibilities. Ms. Linnartz and Mr. Capuano will continue in this capacity until the Marriott Board appoints a new CEO, which is expected to be within the next two weeks.
About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,500 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 132 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy™, its highly-awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.
We’re Creating a New Place to Gather
In early 2021, the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto International Airport has commenced a transformational journey to join Sheraton hotels’ global rebranding. After acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts in late 2016, revitalizing the Sheraton brand has been one of Marriott International’s top priorities, a project that is finally coming to life across the globe. The Sheraton Gateway is proud to be joining this movement of change at a time when it is much needed.
Our owners, Knightstone Capital Management, work to optimize each of their properties by providing exceptional spaces and service offerings that enhance the guest experience. Managing a diverse portfolio of hospitality, academic, commercial, and residential assets, Knightstone Capital Management is an experienced leader in developing and upgrading properties to create unique spaces for people to live, learn and connect. Knightstone is committed to the Hotel’s long-term success and is excited to be part of the Sheraton brand’s global transformation.
The past year has been a challenging episode for the hotel industry and as we continue to look forward, we continue to prepare for Canada’s recovery and future. Part of this recovery involves bringing a new experience to travelers at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, one that is more aligned with our guests’ evolving needs and where the power of the collective is put forward. We see this time as the perfect opportunity to rethink our offering and come out even stronger from this difficult period.
The new Sheraton experience will be a place to gather, where the community is stronger than the individual, where experiences are shared and differences are unified. Public spaces will be reimagined to invite our guests to come together as a global and inclusive community. Our F&B offering is being redesigned to enable our guests to increase their productivity and create meaningful connections. Our meeting spaces are being rejuvenated and our guestrooms are being elevated to bring an immediate feeling of comfort and belonging from the moment you step in.
These renovations will take place in different stages, all throughout which the hotel will remain open. During this time, to minimize the disturbance for our guests, work will only be conducted from Monday to Friday, between 9AM and 5PM. While these renovations are ongoing at our property, all local safety guidelines regarding COVID-19 are being followed to ensure the health and wellness of our guests, contractors and hotel associates. We are expecting the project to be completed by April 2022.
In the meantime, we look forward to gradually introducing you to the new Sheraton experience at our hotel as the different stages are being completed. The time for change has come and we are excited to soon welcome you again in a place of community, where you belong.
Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto International Airport
Terminal 3, Toronto AMF, P.O. Box 3000, Toronto, Ontario L5P 1C4
T 905 672 7000 | Marriott.com/YYZGS
Company plans to add 19 resorts to its robust all-inclusive offering, expanding presence to Antigua and St. Lucia
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) today announced a significant planned expansion of its all-inclusive portfolio through a long-term agreement with Sunwing Travel Group’s hotel division, Blue Diamond Resorts, which has an extensive portfolio of resort properties throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. The agreement is expected to propel Marriott into the list of top 10 global all-inclusive players by adding 19 franchised resorts totaling nearly 7,000 rooms across six destinations and more than doubling the company’s presence in the all-inclusive segment to 33 properties by 2025. The majority of the properties are expected to be converted into Marriott’s Autograph Collection by mid 2021.
“We are thrilled to work with Sunwing Travel Group and expand into two new leisure destinations – St. Lucia and Antigua,” said Tony Capuano, Group President, Global Development, Design and Operations Services, Marriott International. “Blue Diamond’s expertise in the all-inclusive segment and high-quality resorts will help ensure that these properties serve as excellent additions to the Marriott portfolio. Today’s signing is a testament to Marriott International’s scale and loyalty platform, and we look forward to providing travelers seeking an all-inclusive experience with more choices in the Caribbean and Latin America.”
Marriott International launched its multi-brand all-inclusive portfolio platform in August 2019 and has 9 open hotels across Costa Rica, Barbados and Mexico with an additional 5 hotels in the pipeline in Mexico, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Brazil. With today’s agreement, another 19 are expected to join the portfolio. The platform will provide the company’s 145 million Marriott Bonvoy members the option to earn and redeem points for the convenient, pay-one-price concept.
“We are excited to enter into this agreement with Marriott International, and introduce Blue Diamond Resorts’ portfolio of hotels to their Autograph Collection brand,” said Stephen Hunter, CEO, Sunwing Travel Group. “Our luxurious, award-winning hotels will benefit from Marriott’s world-renowned reputation and esteemed travel program, all while bolstering our mission to bring unparalleled vacation experiences to customers.”
The following resorts are anticipated to convert to the Autograph Collection:
Multi-Brand All-Inclusive Portfolio
Given growing demand for premium and luxury all-inclusive stays, Marriott International previously announced it would leverage eight of its 30 global iconic brands in the all-inclusive category: The Ritz-Carlton, The Luxury Collection, Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels, W Hotels, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio and Delta Hotels by Marriott. Today’s agreement reflects the addition of 19 resorts into Marriott International’s Autograph Collection, a curated collection of remarkably independent hotels hand-selected for their inherent craft and distinct perspectives on design and hospitality. Guests will revel in an elevated all-inclusive leisure vacation experience with a unique design aesthetic, enriching programs and redesigned dynamic dining options, along with enhanced spa and wellness offerings.
Marriott Commitment to Clean Protocols
Hotels in the Marriott portfolio are following Marriott International’s Commitment to Clean protocols created together with leading experts in food and water safety, hygiene and infection prevention and hotel operations. These protocols include mandated mask-wearing for all associates within the hotel, and the use of electrostatic sprayers and disinfectants recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization to sanitize surfaces in the hotels. In addition, the company has modified its food and beverage operational practices creating a newly designed approach to buffets and in-room dining. Measures include but are not limited to contactless and low-touch service, digital menus, pre-plated mini buffet options and a hybrid buffet with elements of self-guided service around individually plated or packaged selections.
About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,500 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 132 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy™, its highly-awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.
About Sunwing Travel Group
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing Travel Group is comprised of Sunwing Vacations and Vacation Express, two of the leading leisure tour operators in North America; Sunwing Airlines, Canada’s premier leisure airline; SunwingJets, a luxury private jet charter service; SellOffVacations.com and Luxe Destination Weddings, two leading travel retail businesses; NexusTours, a full-service destination management company; and Blue Diamond Resorts, the Group’s hotel management company, an innovative organization that operates popular resort brands across the Caribbean and Mexico. Since its inception in 2011, Blue Diamond Resorts has curated an impressive portfolio encompassing 45 properties, exceeding 15,000 rooms in ten countries, including the award-winning All-In Luxury® Royalton Luxury Resorts, adults-only brands Hideaway at Royalton and Royalton CHIC, Planet Hollywood Hotels and Resorts, and Mystique by Royalton. For more information on Sunwing Travel Group, please visit www.sunwingtravelgroup.com.