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.