Aerial, Parliament, Ottawa River

The advantages of mid-sized destination for meetings

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Meeting planners are increasingly interested in hosting their events in midsize cities, according to a study published by IMEX Group and Skift titled “The Rise of Midsize Cities in the Meetings Industry”. The report concludes that the future of the meetings and events industry will be driven by midsize cities (defined as less than one million citizens) and secondary markets, especially in North America and Europe. Some planners are deterred by high hotel room rates, food and beverage costs and other ancillary expenses in large metropolitan areas. However, they are also looking for intellectual capital and expertise, as well as unique and new experiences for delegates.  

Having reached a population of one million in 2019, Ottawa, Ontario has the advantages of a medium size city paired with the abundance of services of a capital city. Like many other mid-sized cities, Canada’s capital has undergone urban revitalization efforts and infrastructure investment, including launching light rail transit and increasing the number of hotels with a diversified offer of boutique properties and international chains. 

Ottawa’s highly walkable downtown core and lively neighborhoods allow visitors to easily experience the relaxed local vibe. This accessibility, along with good value and friendliness, are among the reasons meeting planners find Canada’s capital an attractive alternative to many of the largest cities in North America. 

Another aspect planners appreciate about Ottawa is its proximity to natural surroundings and serene settings. Visitors benefit from easy access to outdoor activities such as walking or cycling along the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rideau Canal, rafting on the Ottawa River or skiing in Gatineau Park.  

A destination’s local expertise and knowledge base is also becoming a key decision factor for event organizers. Mid-size cities usually attract business leaders and start-ups looking for talents, lower overall costs, a safe environment, and high quality of life. Ottawa has become a hub for several key industries, such as Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), Health and Life Sciences, Defence, Security and Aerospace. The result is a concentration of resources that make personal connections easier and benefit everyone in need for innovation: start-ups, delegates, speakers, etc.  

To leverage international collaboration between mid-size cities, Ottawa Tourism and The Hague Convention Bureau recently signed a friendly Memorandum of Understanding. This strategic partnership between the two political capitals aims at creating synergies and collaboration opportunities to attract new international business events.  

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