For three consecutive years beginning in 2019, Toronto hosts Web Summit’s Collision conference, North America’s fastest-growing and most important technology marketplace and a meeting point for tech innovators, influential investors, startups and the world’s largest buyers and sellers of technology.

After three years in New Orleans, Web Summit moved its marquee conference to Toronto. Here are two key reasons why:

VISAS: Canada’s Start-up Visa Program and the Global Talent Stream, a new fast-track immigration process designed to build a highly skilled, diverse workforce.

BRAIN GAIN: As Toronto continues to generate more tech jobs than tech graduates, the current “brain gain” environment is expected to continue.

Collision 2019 in Toronto was seven times larger than the previous year and hosted twice as many speakers, startups and investors. More than 100 trade missions took place in Toronto to connect Canadian companies with international businesses

Q & A

How does Collision differ from typical conference formats?
We’re not your normal nine-to-five conference—we’re driven by networking and bringing people and ideas together. My background is in entertainment—20 years in Hollywood—so I work very hard with [Web Summit CEO and co-founder] Paddy Cosgrave on the experience that people will have. When speakers walk onto our stages to greet the audience, the sound and the A/V make it feel like a music festival-level experience. On the show floor, we have startups, investors and a very high C-suite presence, so we provide seated areas for these people to connect organically.

How do you use data to improve the attendee experience?
We use wristbands for security and access control, and over the past year, we’ve worked with scanning solutions to track the lounges and spaces that the different ticket types migrate to. This allows us to build more of a bespoke experience for the people who attend each of these spaces.

How can attendees make the most of their Collision experience?
Time passes very fast and you can sometimes be overwhelmed. Use the calendar in the conference app to make a plan for yourself and to identify the speakers and startups you’d like to see. The app will flag you to some of the tracks and backgrounders that may interest you. When you use your smartphone to scan the QR code on your lanyard, the app tries to match you with other people at the conference based on how you’ve defined your interests and background.

Why is Toronto the ideal city to host a conference like Collision?
The fact that Toronto is the most diverse city in North America and the third-largest tech hub is a huge draw to us. I can’t express how important it is that we’re able to attract quality startups so that we can grow the event. If we can’t attract startups to the conference, then the investors, the speakers and the general attendee won’t come. It’s a very organic process and Toronto’s talent pool of engineers and entrepreneurs really stands out to us.

Go here to get tickets or see the full schedule for Collision.

(This article will appear in the 2019 Business Events Planners Guide available in early June)



GMID- social - LI Day 4 final

Business Events Toronto, and tourism partners celebrated Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) on April 4th. The celebration was on the heels of a record-breaking 2018 for business events that included 26 citywide conventions, 500,200 delegates and an economic impact of $565 million generated for the Toronto regional economy.

GMID is an international day led by the industry advocacy coalition Meetings Mean Business and Meetings Mean Business Canada. The day showcases the value that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions bring to businesses and the economy.


In celebration of GMID, two of Toronto’s most iconic landmarks – the CN Tower and the 3D TORONTO Sign – turned blue, the globally recognized colour for the day. In addition, the Princes’ Gate and the four entrance towers to Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place, along with South Building at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre were lit blue on April 4.


Toronto has a significant opportunity to showcase itself as a destination for the growing conferences and events industry when the city hosts Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) World Education Congress. This signature event brings together meeting professionals from around the globe at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from June 15-18, 2019.

MPI’s World Education Congress in Toronto is all about creating shared experiences for meeting and event professionals. The innovative meeting concept and design recently won Association Meeting top honours as part of the 9th Global Eventex Awards. When 2,500 meetings professionals are in Toronto for MPI’s World Education Congress, the tourism industry is set to come together to showcase the city and exemplify why more than 500,000 business delegates choose to come to Toronto for meetings and events.



Toronto was selected as this year’s destination feature with a stand-alone publication to accompany the annual BizBash Best Venue and Supplier Guide. BizBash Magazine selects one destination annually to feature in this supplement, having previously featured Downtown LA and New York City – making Toronto the first Canadian destination showcased in their guide.

The 64-page publication gives Canada’s Downtown prominent exposure to North American business event professionals including 25,000 US-based planners and 5,000 Canadian planners. The publication was mailed out accompanying the 2019 BizBash Best issue last week to readers across North America. Business Events Toronto is featured with a special French Door cover ad showcasing the city’s unmistakable skyline.

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The feature focuses on the best venues, ideas and spaces in the market, including profiles on new or renovated hotel spaces, restaurants, cultural spaces, festivals, nightlife venues, museums, and other event spaces. It also spotlights buzz-worthy venues under construction in the “In the Works” section.

If you haven’t received a copy, you can read the supplement here.




InterContinental Toronto Centre is a prime venue in the city with all the tools you need to create a great event. It’s got a lot of perks to make your stay enjoyable. It offers 18,000 sq. ft. of event space for a variety of functions including business meetings, conferences, wedding receptions, and social events – with 19 meeting rooms. The Ballroom accommodates a reception of up to 600 people, and 350 for a seated dinner. It also has two private dining rooms. But on top of that, the culinary experience is top-notch and overseen by a Master in his field, yes a Master!

The only Master Chef in Canada to be working in a hotel, Shawn Whalen is InterContinental Toronto Centre’s Executive Chef. In this role he elevates the hotel’s food and beverage offerings to a worry free culinary experience; which is a major benefit to the business events scene given the hotel’s prime location directly attached to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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Chef Shawn Whalen is a Toronto native with a career spanning more than 30 years, working and training in hotels and restaurants throughout the city, and eventually would become the youngest chef to ear the Certified Chef de Cuisine designation. His successful career includes ample culinary awards from gold medals to trophies. Today, he continues to successfully thrive in his career as one of only five Chefs in Canada to receive the prestigious Certified Master Chef (CMC) designation.

A good meal is one of life’s biggest pleasures. This won’t be news to anyone, but an excellent dish that is expertly prepared is not only satisfying, it can be unforgettable. Providing a guest, client or meeting attendee with an experience that they are likely to gush about to their friends and colleagues is a great way to cause excitement. Word of mouth goes a long way. Word of plate can go even further! 

InterContinental Toronto Centre is well versed on the importance of great cuisine and the impact it has on event planning. And amazingly, they’re equipped with the best of the best, one of Canada’s top chefs: Executive Chef Shawn Whalen.

The CMC professional designation under the Canadian Culinary Institute (CCI) is the highest attainable culinary designation in Canada.  The CMC professional designation is the newest certification under the CCI and also the highest attainable culinary designation in Canada.

The program has been developed by industry Master Chefs and faculty from the Canadian Centre of Culinary Arts & Science at Humber College. It’s recognized by Destination Canada and Human Resource Council with a network of partnering agencies and associations throughout Canada.

All chefs must be extremely skilled and well-rounded in a multitude of areas within the culinary arts to receive the certification. Chef Whalen completed the program over a seven-year time period with intense examinations in areas including: garde-manger, baking, gastronomic with wine pairing and nutritional vegetarian lunch menu. Not only are the candidates tested on taste, composition and presentation, but also nutritional balance and overall healthiness of the dishes.

An award-winning Master Chef serving up delicious cuisine? Check. A prime location in Toronto’s Financial District, connected to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre? Check. Luxury amenities? Check.

Intercontinental Toronto Centre offers the tools, amenities and offerings for spectacular events at your fingertips. And most importantly, every great event starts with a great culinary experience. Bon Appétit!

In the Know with TO – January 2019

InTheKnowWithTO_HEADER-BLOG January


Glide into 2019 with an exciting team-building activity! Toronto’s new favourite winter hangout, The Bentway, makes for great outdoor skating while also doubling as a fun venue for corporate events. With a space that spans as far as 1.75 km under the Gardiner Expressway, you can skate laps, enjoy drinks by the fire pit, or network indoors at the Fort York National Historic Site (up to 250 for a cocktail reception, 140 seated). The Fort York site and The Bentway can be customized for events, in tandem with one another.

Delicious and spacious. Meet Toronto’s latest yummy addition, Bindia, a bistro specializing in authentic Indian cuisine. It’s conveniently located in the downtown core, right across the street from St. Lawrence Market. The restaurant includes private event spaces that seat up to 150 guests, each fully-equipped with a private bar and staff.

True blu & luxury too. This year, treat yourself to Toronto’s luxurious offerings. The former Adelaide Hotel is now the new St. Regis Toronto. It’s the first St. Regis in Canada, offering guests glamourous accommodations with five-star service, in the heart of downtown Toronto. The Radisson Admiral Hotel Toronto transforms into a Radisson Blu, come June 2019. It’s going to be the Radisson Hotel Group’s first upscale hotel in Canada, with upgrades to the hotel’s public spaces, guestrooms, and culinary offerings.

All you need is love and a cool, Instagrammable venue in the heart of trendy King West. Love Child Social Housee is Toronto’s newest spot to see and be seen. It’s a co-op workspace by day and event venue by night. Featuring a game lounge, large dancefloor, and some of the city’s best DJs – the vibe is a tropical oasis with touches of Art Deco. It’s got everything you need from relaxed workspaces, delicious food, and even a café. Love Child’s full reception capacity is 500, with 130 seated, and a theatre style capacity of 120 seated.

Great gatherings happen in great spaces. The new Artscape Daniels Launchpad is just as creative as it sounds, with 4,800 sq. ft. of space on Toronto’s waterfront. It’s where creative entrepreneurs and artists come together to share ideas and work. The space is fully-integrated with state-of-the-art technology, artistic tools, production studios and open areas that overlook Lake Ontario. If lawn games are more your style, then you’ll love Lob Toronto (up to 125 guests). It features 10,000 sq. ft. of outdoor games brought indoors, including delicious eats and drinks.

3D is the new selfie. It’s a new year and a new you, so show it off with Selftraits. This Toronto-based company creates lifelike figurines through 3D scanning technology. Selftraits offers a variety of services from private bookings, to personalized gifts, to corporate events where they’ll install their 3D scanner onsite and even brand it, and also team-building activities. Photo selfies are so 2018, it’s time to get three-dimensional.



Disrupt and deliver, was the goal of the Business Events Toronto team and members attending PCMA’s Convening Leaders last week in Pittsburgh. This annual conference brings together Business Events professionals from around the world giving our sales team the opportunity to sell Toronto as the destination of choice for meetings and events.

The Business Events Toronto team has been putting on the Imaginarium inside the convention at PCMA Convening Leaders for more than 10 years. As leaders in this space for the last decade, many destinations have been catching up with their own programming during the conference, making this a perfect chance to reimagine the Toronto experience.

The reimagined Imaginarium debuted for more than 120 U.S. based association clients breaking out of the convention centre mould while continuing to celebrate the creativity, imagination and innovative spirit of Toronto. Moving to an outside venue allowed the team to focus their time on engaging with clients, prospecting and selling Canada’s Downtown to these important U.S. clients.

The Imaginarium: Reimagined took place at Ten Penny restaurant during PCMA Convening Leaders. Located just steps away from the Pittsburgh Convention Centre and one of the host hotels for the conference, the restaurant was the ideal location to draw attendees to the new experience.

Drawing inspiration from a pop-up experience, the Imaginarium was top of mind and got people talking when it appeared the morning of the event. Helping to build buzz for the event were large window wraps on the restaurant’s exterior floor to ceiling windows that announced that Toronto  had arrived and it was not to be missed! The visuals and messaging helped to evoke the sense of intrigue and pique interest of PCMA attendees, not to mention many locals passing by who didn’t miss that Toronto was front and centre for the day.

Continuing on the theme of mystery the entrance was transformed with an oversized keyhole that transported attendees to the Imaginarium. To attend the pre-qualified guests had to receive a digital key from the sales team in advance, which ensured access to the event. After arriving at the event they also received a physical key that would be used for accessing a VIP lock box that they needed to unlock a special gift waiting in the space.

After entering the space, guests were transported to Toronto, and immersed in a 360 degree view of the skyline of the city that filled the interior windows throughout the restaurant. After entering the space, one of the first activations guests experienced was a simulation of the CN Tower’s iconic glass floor, offering a perfect opportunity for pics and selfies to remember the night.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at this year’s Imaginarium and we look forward to continuing to change the game in the year ahead!





Business Events Toronto announced that 26 citywide conventions were held in 2018 – a new record for the number of citywide conventions held in a single year. The total tops the previous record of 18 citywide conferences set in 2017.


“The record number of citywide conferences speaks to Toronto’s place as the hub for innovation, technology, finance and business within Canada,” said Johanne Bélanger, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto. “Our team at Business Events Toronto taps into Toronto’s strength in these key economic sectors and uses the vibrancy of Canada’s Downtown to attract these major events to the region.”

Tourism Toronto defines a citywide convention or event as one that consumes 1,100 hotel rooms on peak night, a minimum of two hotels for delegates, and the use of a convention centre or event complex.

“Business events are a thriving and vital part of our tourism industry that contributes $33 billion in direct spending in Canada, directly employs 229,000 people and $19 billion of GDP,” said Heidi Welker, Chair of Meetings Means Business Canada. “Great things happen when people come together, whether in a meeting room, on a convention floor, or out experiencing a destination. Our industry within Canada and in Toronto excel at bringing people together in an exceptional way.”

Following the success of citywide conferences in 2018, the momentum continues into next year. Tourism Toronto is pleased to announce that Jehovah’s Witnesses will be hosting their 2019 international convention in Toronto, bringing an expected 45,000 delegates. That convention joins other meetings and events secured for 2019 including MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC) – the signature event for meeting professionals. WEC gives Toronto the opportunity to showcase itself to the professionals planning meetings, conferences and events across the globe.


In 2018, Toronto was named Canada’s top convention destination by Cvent, and consistently ranks among the top five in North America. Toronto was also among the top-ranked destinations selected by meeting planners in the 2018 Watkins Report, which rates the most positive overall experience for major conventions in North America.

Toronto offers planners a destination that is open, diverse and safe – a city that blends the best of Canadian inclusiveness with iconic events, attractions, restaurants, culture and festivals. The region, as Canada’s Downtown, is home to North America’s second largest financial services centre, third largest technology sector and the country’s largest combined life-sciences sector, providing access to industry thought-leaders and businesses driving innovation in their field.

The banner year for Business Events Toronto include direct service support for 1,025 events hosted in 2018 including citywide conferences. Those meetings represented 500,208 delegates and an economic spend of $565 million.

Some of the key conferences, meetings and events that took place in 2018 included:
• NU SKIN China – May 2018 (4,000 delegates)
• Pediatric Academic Societies – May 2018 (9,100 delegates)
• VMWare – May 2018 (4,050 delegates)
• Rotary International Convention – June 2018 (24,000 delegates)
• Enterprise World 2018 – OpenText – July 2018 (4,000 delegates)
• Primerica Canadian Convention – July 2018 (7,000 delegates)
• 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer – September 2018 (7,500 delegates)
• Cyber Security Connect East (Palo Alto Networks) – September 2018 (3,515 delegates)
• Family Medicine Forum – November 2018 (3,000 delegates)



Let’s be honest, sometimes transportation can be a pain in the neck when planning an event. On top of planning and executing your event, you’ve got to make sure people can get there. And on top of that, you’ve got to consider all the other events that are happening in the city; potential road closures, accidents, while coordinating pick-up spots for your attendees. And of course, perhaps the biggest headache, that dreaded seven-letter word in Toronto: traffic!

If that first paragraph has you reaching for a bottle of Advil, hold on. Because when there’s a will, there’s a way. Especially when it comes to the transportation needs for your events. Whether you’re moving one person or many, Luxury Coach is your headache-free answer. Their team of transportation experts can accommodate your requirements, all while providing quality service.

Luxury Coach prides itself on being a leader in transportation coordination and service in the Greater Toronto Area, for the past 20 years. Their experience and dedication earns them a reputation among Fortune 500 companies, as well as tour companies and clients in their field.

The team at Luxury Coach knows that image is everything, and is the key to a successful event – especially to attendees. They go the extra mile in providing guests with the ultimate luxury experience, including amenities that wow, plus the added touch of a professional and courteous staff as the icing on a very lavish cake. Guests consistently comment that travelling with Luxury Coach feels comfortable and safe, and their professionalism and service makes for a memorable experience.

Offering a diverse fleet of vehicles including sedans, sport utility, limousines, executive vans, shuttle coaches and full size 56-passenger highway coaches, they accommodate groups of all sizes. Not one to rest on their laurels, Luxury Coach is continuously upgrading their fleet, ensuring they’re replaced every two to three years.

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Passenger comfort and safety is a top priority, so much so that all vehicles, regardless of size, are equipped with seat belts. Plus, all commercial vehicles are equipped with electronic tracking devices, monitoring the drivers’ activities while alerting dispatchers to excessive idling and speeding. For added safety, all drivers undergo yearly testing with certified instructors, so their skills are up to speed.

Their NEW VIP Coach can accommodate up to 28 passengers, including such amenities as beverages and  food service. With all the comforts of a travelling VIP room, arrangements are worry-free and safe, while you enjoy the comfort and company of your guests.

The team has made a name in the Toronto events community with a commitment to serving clients. They’re more than willing to work with you based on your needs for any specific event.

So if you want to arrive while seated in the lap of luxury; sit back, relax and leave the headaches to Luxury Coach. They’ll get you where you need to be, in the best way possible.



Business Events Toronto’s own Alice Au, was recognized at the 57th International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Congress last week in Dubai for her contributions to the meetings industry. She was one of ten women, and the only from North America, that was presented with an Inspirational ICCA Women award by President Nina Freysen-Pretorius.

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Recipients were chosen by their colleagues in ICCA whom they consider to be the “unsung heroes”, leaders, innovators, pioneers and advocates of business events. The newly formed awards are the brain-child of Freysen-Pretorius, the second female ICCA president, who was keen to show her gratitude to industry partners  for their support during her time as president of the global meetings industry association.

Au was chosen for her dedication to the ICCA community and meetings industry, and exhibiting the values and actions that the association encourages and upholds.

Also honoured as an Inspirational ICCA Women were:

  • Anne Wallin Rodven, Honorary Member, Norway
  • Bettina Reventlow-Mourier, Wonderful Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Carina Bauer, IMEX Group, UK
  • Joyce Wittelaar, Rotterdam Partners-Convention Bureau, The Netherlands
  • Kitty Wong, K&A International Co., Ltd, Chinese Taipei
  • Maria José Alves, Cascais Convention Bureau, Portugal
  • Nonnie Kubeka, Gauteng Convention Bureau, South Africa
  • Roslyn McLeod, Arinex Pty Ltd (INCON Group), Australia
  • Ulrike von Arnold, Vienna Convention Bureau, Austria

The 2018 ICCA Congress took place November 11 – 14, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This was the largest edition of the event held outside of Europe, with 1,156 delegates from 79 countries in attendance.



If you want to gift incentive travellers with the ultimate Canadian experience, you’ll want to do it right. And doing it right means engaging the services of a destination management company who knows what they’re doing. In fact, why not take it up a notch and work with a company whose reputation precedes them? Incentive travellers deserve what’s best and the right DMC will give them just that – especially when they’ve won awards in their field and have over 35 years of experience.

Toronto’s very own Canadian Tours International (CTI) Destination Management. Since 1979, their multilingual team has served over 150,000 travellers in a variety of travels from group tours, to specialty tours, to individual travel, and of course, incentive programs. They’ve got it all with a reputable service that includes an innovative team of planners who know Canada, and likewise Toronto, inside out. What does that mean for your incentive group? A perfectly planned trip, suited to your team’s interest that includes organized meals, venues, transportation, logistics, entertainment and more.

Canada is the 2nd biggest country in the world and Toronto is its largest city. Take a while to let that sink in and you’ll realize that the opportunities for your incentive travels are endless. With Canada’s vast landscape and Toronto’s thriving culture, you won’t know where to start. Luckily, CTI always does. With a goal to inspire, entice and motivate incentive travellers within their personal and professional lives, some past programs included:

  • Canoe races
  • Chartered flights to Canadian landmarks
  • Unique sightseeing tours
  • Winter activities like snowmobiling, dogsledding, heli-skiing
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Technical programs
  • Exclusive lodges
  • Winery tours
  • Out of the box gala evenings

This past spring 2018, CTI was tasked with putting together a 5-day itinerary for an incentive group of 300 attendees from Mexico, during Toronto’s most blossoming season. The itinerary included iconic Toronto experiences like dinner atop the CN Tower, tours of Toronto’s prominent neighbourhoods and attractions, VIP evenings at the city’s trendiest bars, a catered celebration at the Royal Ontario Museum, an exclusive winery tour, and to top it all off, an elegant dinner at Toronto’s Ritz Carlton Hotel.

The final evening’s dinner included a private Cirque inspired performance by performers from Cirque-u-l’air. This performance act which is in the style of Cirque du Soleil style with mythical costuming and ethereal musical accompaniment is something that most would like to cross off their bucket lists. Brought right to their dinner tables, the group was wowed by aerial acrobatics, a pixel poi performance, and balancing artists. It was a feast for their stomachs and their eyes. It was also a rare experience that stayed with attendees well after they went home. And it was all brought together by the hardworking team at CTI.

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CTI truly knows how to build a seamless experience and program, and execute it effortlessly.