Global Meetings

The Canadian Innovation Conference, Take Two

The Canadian Innovation Conference is about to make its second appearance —  this time in Montreal.

PCMA may pour heart and soul into its education programs, but as Ottawa-based Chuck Schouwerwou, CMP, puts it: “There’s a lot of planners in Canada that don’t get to go to the States for education, which is where the big PCMA events are.”

So last year, Schouwerwou and his colleagues in PCMA’s Canada East Chapter organized a Canadian Innovation Conference, attended by 250 planners and suppliers, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The event had such glowing reviews that they’ve planned a redux for Montreal’s Fairmont Queen Elizabeth next month, from Nov. 23–25.

“We can be pretty staid in this industry,” said Schouwerwou, the conference’s co-chair and president and principal meeting planner with ConferSense Planners Inc. “We wanted people to walk away inspired and we wanted them to look at things in multiple ways.”

The robust lineup of speakers for this year’s conference includes Olympic medalists Mark Tewksbury and Debbie Muir; astronaut Dave Williams; and “stormchaser” and severe weather expert Greg Johnson. Emcee and leadership methodologist Paul Bridle will interview each of the keynotes, joined by his son, David Bridle, as co-emcee. “We’ll do everything from a dual, multigenerational perspective,” Schouwerwou said.

In keeping with the focus on education, the entire program — from workshops to keynotes — is CEU-accredited, and covers “everything from mobile apps to online conference binders,” Schouwerwou said. “It’s cutting-edge education.” Tracks include Management & Leadership Skills; Innovation in Event Design & Technology; Personal Growth and Development; The New Normals — Issues of Etiquette, Ethics, and Image; Innovations and Issues in Food and Beverage; Marketing; and Risk Management.

Schouwerwou and his colleagues were thrilled with the planner-to-supplier ratio at last year’s event, and are gunning for a repeat. “It was 43–57 [percent] planners to suppliers,” he said.Attendees get a yearlong PCMA membership with their registration — the chapter gained 40 new members last year — and Canada East hopes a few non-Canucks might make the trek north. “We welcome our neighbors!” Schouwerwou said, either this year in Montreal, or next year in Toronto.

Yep, there’s already a 2015 Canadian Innovation Conference in the works.

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Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch is associate editor of Convene.