ASAE 2017: The Super Bowl of Conventions Comes to Toronto

ASAE Screen Cap

Last month, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) annual meeting arrived in Canada’s Downtown. Known as the “Super Bowl of Conventions,” ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership’s Annual Meeting & Exposition is the flagship education and exposition opportunity for associations and not for profit organizations in the United States. Business Events Toronto and a host of partners welcomed the meeting to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, as well as some of the top venues across the city.

The ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition brings thousands of association professionals and industry partners together to exchange time, resources, strategies, solutions, and more. This conference was particularly important to Toronto as 79 percent of attendees are final decision makers or have significant influence in where future meetings will take place. Over 4,500 delegates attended the 2017 Annual Meeting & Exposition, including 2,550 association executives. Participants from all 50 United States and across 23 countries attended the meeting in Toronto. ASAE was last in Toronto in 2009. Previous to that, Toronto hosted the conference in 1988 and 1952.

Opening Night at The ROM
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) was the setting for the opening night celebration. The evening gave attendees full access to the museum exhibits including ancient dinosaurs, mysterious artifacts, and glittering gems while networking throughout the evening. The space was filled with a variety of irresistible food and beverage stations to choose from during the exploration. As well, the event brought the north to the city as the intersection of Bloor and University Avenue was transformed with a markedly cottage feel with camp fires, roasted marshmallow, S’Mores, and live music.

The Classic at Rebel
The skyline of Canada’s Downtown served as the backdrop for the ASAE Foundation signature event The Classic taking place at Rebel night club. The night celebrated Toronto’s festivals, diverse cultures, cuisine, and entertainment throughout the evening at this ticketed event with proceeds earmarked to support the ASAE Foundation’s research and leadership development programs. Attendees were encouraged to jump up, salsa in the streets, stroll the red carpet, celebrate the arts, and show their pride – or simply relax in a private lakefront cabana and enjoy breathtaking waterfront views. As the sun set, the show continued inside with performances by Alan Frew of Glass Tiger and Tom Cochrane.

Closing Party at Roundhouse Park
All good things must come to an end, but Toronto said goodbye to ASAE with a big Canadian sendoff. Hosted by Business Events Canada, the Closing Party was held in one of Toronto’s most unique landmarks at Roundhouse Park. The event venue was transformed into a celebration of Canada’s diverse regions, cultures featuring regional favourites. All regions of the country were represented from the food, drink and entertainment selections.

Given the railroad’s impact on the building of Canada, it also played a special part in the celebration. Throughout the night a miniature train made its way throughout the event space delivering special surprise and delights to party goers.

The celebration ended with a rousing performance by Dwayne Gretzky, Toronto’s favourite super group cover band. The band brought the crowd to their feet and had them dancing and singing along into the night.

The economic impact of ASAE to Toronto is forecasted to be $16 million for this four day conference. There were 17,800 total hotel room nights booked, with 4,000 total peak hotel room nights booked. More than 20 percent of the delegates are expected to return to Toronto to either host their own association meeting or make a personal return trip.

ASAE also had an impact on the local community during the conference, raising $27,231 for two charities: Royal Canadian Legion and Toronto Humane Society.

Toronto has been preparing for this conference for several years now and the result was a resounding success. Thanks to all of the industry partners, sponsors, hosts, venues and volunteers for helping to showcase the city for this important event.

STAFF PICK: SPORTS BAR

Toronto is a major sports town. After all, it’s home to seven professional sports teams and two of “Canada’s teams” (the Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors proudly represent all of Canada in the MLB and NBA, respectively). If you’re hosting an event in Toronto and can’t get tickets to a game, we’ve got the next best thing. Shelley Crawford is an Account Director on our Sports Events team, so she knows her away around this scene. Check out her favourite sports bar below or see our list of Toronto’s top sports bars.

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My Favourite Sports Bar: Real Sports Bar & Grill

15 York Street Real Sports Bar & Grill website

If you’re taking in the Leafs, Raptors, or Rock games or just excited about sports, The Real Sports Bar & Grill at Maple Leaf Square is perfect for a pre-game drink or meal. Great place to socialize with lots of energy. Book ahead, especially for larger groups and on game nights, as it fills up quickly.

By Shelley Crawford, Account Director, Sport, Tourism Toronto

POSTER CHILDREN

Two brothers demonstrate how Torontonians are changing the world.

Toronto has a reputation for creating some of the most influential and inspiring innovators across the country and the world. And nowhere is that more true than in brothers, Craig and Marc Kielburger.

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They are the founders of Free The Children, an international NGO designed to help kids help other kids. Through programs like Adopt a Village, We Act, and We Days, more than 8,000 schools and youth groups in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. have partnered with the organization to end global poverty. We chatted with them about how Toronto inspires them and what they love about the city!

Cabbagetown has a special place in our hearts. Our grandfather immigrated to Toronto from Germany during the Great Depression, and after working a number of jobs, he and my grandmother saved enough money to open a small grocery store in Cabbagetown. They were open for 23 years and only closed for one day, to take the family to Niagara Falls.

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 Now the city is growing in amazing ways, which makes it an exciting place to grow an organization like Free the Children—we’re in fantastic company here. Torontonians love their city and are engaged on so many different levels. Whether it’s a neigh-bourhood issue or something that spans the entire city, Toronto’s citizens want to be involved.

 Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods. You can go from one end of the city to the other and feel like you’ve travelled the world! I love how easy it is to connect with the entire world from our office in Toronto.craig-and-marc-4

 Research shows that people—especially young people—care about their communities and about making a difference in the world. The way we see it, our job is to provide them with the tools, resources and platform to make a difference.

 Now that we have We Day events across North America and in the U.K., we spend much of our time working with teams across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. We are so proud to live and work in a city as vibrant and diverse as Toronto, where we have the opportunity to meet and learn from people from all around the world.

 Find out how you can get involved with Free the Children.

A FEW OF OUR FAVOURITE (CANADIAN) THINGS

If you’re hosting an event in Toronto in 2017, you’re in for an extra special treat. You’ll be in the perfect place to enjoy all things Canada, as the country celebrates the 150th year of Canadian Confederation.

From iconic Canadian fixtures like maple syrup and mounties, to lesser known exports like Hollywood’s funniest comedians (like Mike Myers), discover 150 of the best Canadian people, places and things in our latest mini-magazine. It’s all Canadian and can be found right here in Toronto – Canada’s Downtown.

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ALISON’S WONDERLAND

Passion, creativity, and wonder go into every event planned by our newly award-winning event planner extraordinaire Alison Owers-Graham.

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Alison Owers-Graham

Tourism Toronto superstar Alison Owers-Graham was the very deserving recipient of the “Planner of the Year” award at the PCMA Canadian Innovation Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland last week.

Ever humble about her win, Alison says, “It was pretty special because I was in such fantastic company.”

Masterminding nearly 20 major events each year, she always aims to up the ante.

Of her dedicated event planner, Julie Holmen, Director of Sales, Corporate and Incentive at Tourism Toronto, says, “Whether it’s tracking down artists and performers, working with our members for news ideas, or bringing her own love of Toronto to life, Alison’s passion always shows!”

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PCM-YAY!: Alison accepting her award at the PCMA CIC in St John’s last week.

Where does she get her endless inspiration for her work?

“It comes from loving what I do. I get to create something different every single day, whether it’s a theme, a menu, or décor. Each and every thing makes me happy!” she says.

And planning events in Canada’s Downtown makes her job a little easier: “There is so much diversity in everything that is Toronto, you could easily have an event every day of the week and each one would be completely unique.”

Congratulations to Alison from everyone at Tourism Toronto!

CASA LOMA TAKES HOME BEST VENUE AWARD

Toronto’s Casa Loma was named Best Venue for Weddings and Events at the BizBash Event Style Awards on November 15, 2016. The BizBash Style Awards honour the event and meeting industry’s best across North America, with over 1,000 submissions received this year. Casa Loma was the only Canadian finalist included in their category.

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Completed in 1914, this historical landmark is one of North America’s only castles, making it a top tourist attraction and event venue in Toronto. It welcomes more than 350,000 visitors and plays host to more than 250 events annually.

The venue offers a one-of-a-kind backdrop for any event, featuring 60ft-high oak beamed ceilings in the Great Hall and several other unique event spaces on the main floor, all decorated in traditional early 1900’s elegance, rich wood finishes and marble flooring.

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An outdoor terrace offers a magnificent view of the five-acre estate gardens below and the city skyline. The estate also features sparkling fountains, unique sculptures and an expansive collection of rare florals.

For more information on venue rentals and events, visit the Casa Loma website.

KIDS’ STUFF!

If you’re coming to Toronto for a business event or convention, turn the trip into one the whole family will love. From bumper cars to fearsome sharks, there’s no end to the fun designed for kids and adults alike. Here are a few of our favourites.

ripleys-aquariumRIPLEY’S AQUARIUM OF CANADA 

Something fishy is going on! From a giant octopus and glowing jelly fish to stingrays you can pet, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is jaw-dropping in every way.

 

ontario-science-centreONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE 

Electricity, outer space, wildlife, gravity: find the answers to all the mysteries of this planet…and even a few others at the Ontario Science Centre. It’s always a hair-raising adventure.

 

romROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM 

Yep, it has dinosaur, but that’s just the start! Mummies, meteorites, suits of armour, and even a bat cave await you at the ROM.

 

playdiumPLAYDIUM

There are video games. And then there’s Playdium, complete with every arcade game you could want to play, a Laser Maze, and go-karts!

 

 

legolandLEGO LAND 

They should really call this Lego Heaven instead. Watch a Lego action movie in a theatre that snows, visit miniature Lego cities, and build with more bricks than you’ve ever seen. Lego Land has it all.

to-zooTORONTO ZOO 

This huge, sprawling Toronto Zoo has nearly every animal you can think of… and a bunch more you never knew existed! Be sure to say hello to the baby Pandas before they return home to China.

 

For more fun things to do with your kids when you visit, check out Yo-Toronto!