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Relationship building is the key to long term success

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The Same But Different – Ottawa’s European showcase highlights key factors in organizing a networking event that will truly deliver a return on investment.

Ottawa is well known for its friendliness and welcoming attitude, it is one of the key reasons why it is so successful when it comes to hosting major events and congresses, particularly amongst membership organisations and associations.  This summer Ottawa Tourism decided to make the most of its ability to create friends and develop new relationships by hosting a high-profile event in Scotland for potential clients and the media.  It was an opportunity to meet new people, talk about the city’s great offering and spend time learning about how the Ottawa team can support them as they consider Canada’s capital for future events.

It is actually the second time Ottawa Tourism has run the event – the first was such a success it has paid of itself ten times over – so the team knew it had a good formula based on several key elements:

A great location – it was not by accident that Scotland (and specifically Gleneagles) was chosen for the event.  It parallels Ottawa in so many ways with its beautiful scenery, links to the great outdoors, fine cuisine, friendly people, focused offering, great meeting / event facilities and most importantly – first class service.

A relaxed environment – Ottawa Tourism wanted to spend time with guests in a relaxed and friendly setting, without the pressure of a hard sell or presentations.  The result was a programme that included golf, shooting, blind driving, zip wire, a ceilidh and a highly competitive Highland Games to round off the weekend.  There was also entertainment by Canadian singing star Ann Vriend as well as plenty of food to keep everyone going, ensuring long lasting memories and a real legacy to the event.

Amazing education – it wasn’t all free time though!  The Saturday morning included an intensive two-hour motivational session by Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Tewksbury.  The iconic swimmer provided a heartfelt insight to the challenges he faced on his road to the winner’s podium at the 1992 Olympics.  As well as educating and motivating the audience he clearly demonstrated why he is such a sought-after speaker as well as a great host.

Was it worth it?  Should you consider something similar?  The results speak for themselves: last year’s event has already delivered a massive economic impact for Ottawa and there are high hopes for 2019 as well.  But don’t take the Ottawa Team’s word for it.  Here are a few comments from the delighted guests:

Nick Newland, Policy and Communications Manager from the Associated Country Women of the World said “This weekend has changed my perceptions of Ottawa – it has been a fantastic event.  In particular, I have been impressed about how it has a truly city-wide offering.  Ottawa is clearly not isolated venues working in their own silos – instead it has a genuinely cohesive approach that brings together a complete offering.  I have also been delighted at the way Ottawa perfectly balances friendliness with professionalism.  The host team has been so welcoming, they don’t boast or sell, because there is no need - Ottawa is such a great city for events.”

Ray McMahon, Secretary General, International Academy of Pathology added: “It has been a very friendly weekend with a diverse group of attendees.  It has been incredibly well organised and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.  As an international association it is down to our regional teams to select destinations and this weekend has created an opportunity for me to talk in depth with our North American team and push Ottawa forward as a future destination for our events.  I knew the city could deliver fantastic events and the last three days has not just cemented that opinion it has given a wealth of new ideas and opportunities for me to explore.”

Dr Christine Gaylarde, hon. Secretary International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Society concluded: “It has been a great weekend and in particular the hosting has been superb.  There has been so much to do and learn, balanced by opportunities to relax and take time out to enjoy the surroundings.  Clearly there is a lot more to Ottawa than I was originally aware of and these three days have not just expanded my knowledge, they have allowed me to take a different view of the city and consider it as a potential destination for future events.”


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