Montréal Rethinks Hospitality as It Breaks Tourism Records In 2017

Author: Sarah Beauchamp       

This year marked the 80th anniversary of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society’s Annual Meeting and Exhibition and it was “the organization’s largest meeting to date,” Rosalind O’Connell, communications and public affairs manager at COS, tells PCMA. “It exceeded record attendance in COS history.” That’s not surprising considering Montréal, the host city for the COS Annual Meeting, has a 95 percent satisfaction rating from travelers, according to an Ipsos research study, and in 2017, it’s expected to break even more tourism records. Now, the destination is finding ways to revolutionize hospitality.

Montréal’s strategy is to work with local business partners in order to make the city even more welcoming to large groups. This includes establishing tourist information kiosks and mobile agents throughout the city that can assist attendees. For meetings and conventions, “the hospitality strategy becomes all the more important,” Pierre Bellerose, vice president of public relations, hospitality, research and product development for Tourisme Montréal tells PCMA. “Customizing hospitality features at entry points and working in partnership with the Montréal taxi office, hotels, and various attractions will help to create an overall integrated experience. Additionally, the Palais des congrès de Montréal is naturally one of the main partners in this initiative and its staff is trained specifically for each conference.”

COS held its 2017 Annual Meeting at the Palais des congrès, June 15-18. More than 1,500 delegates traveled from across Canada and abroad, including countries like India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, and France, for what O’Connell describes as “the premier venue for knowledge transfer in ophthalmology.” The organization found new and innovative ways to utilize the state-of-the-art convention center. “The COS turned a regular convention center meeting room into a wet-lab space to deliver Surgical Skills Transfer Course (STC),” O’Connell says. “Breaking the room in half, we set a didactic presentation area in theater with a screen and podium. In this space, surgical videos can be reviewed, the latest evidence and techniques described, preparing participants for the hands-on portion that follows. The other half of the room is set up to accommodate the wet-lab.”

At the 80th Annual Meeting, attendees sat in on sessions about things like “body mechanics” and the “impacts of body positioning in ophthalmology,” O’Connell says. “It was great to see everyone in the room trying to stretch techniques!” There were also hands-on sessions, like STC, where participants learned “how to choose the appropriate toxin for a variety of cases and patients, prepare the toxin, and also practice various functional and cosmetic injection techniques on a live patient or synthetic head.”

The organization’s anniversary event also aligned with the 375th anniversary of the city of Montréal. “This year, the delegates remarked that the location of the Palais des congrès was fantastic in allowing access to the city landmarks and nearby restaurants on nights dedicated to socializing,” O’Connell says. “The welcome reception was held on the beautiful roof-top setting at the Palais des congrès. At this venue, guests were greeted by unobstructed views of the city and Métis inspired art in terrace common areas. Our delegation enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and spring sunshine in the company of their peers.”

This is exactly the kind of warm atmosphere Tourisme Montréal is working to create. “The ubiquity of mobile phones and the paradigm shift regarding the use of technology has profoundly changed travel behaviors,” Bellerose says. “On one side, travelers now plan much more spontaneously. The choice of restaurants, outings, and activities is often made on the spot. On the other side, travelers share their experiences on social media both during and after their stay. It is thus more important than ever to fully understand travelers’ journeys as well as their needs, to offer them a flawless experience.”


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