Wednesday, November 14

Dollar parity an opportunity for Canada to reposition itself to US MC&IT travellers

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Multi-million dollar expansion is the name of the game this year for meeting space in Canada. Casino Windsor in Ontario, soon to be known as Caesars Windsor, is currently undergoing a $373 million expansion and renovation that will see it gain 100,000 square feet of convention space. Northward, the Toronto Congress Centre is adding 500,000 square feet, and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, in turn, is constructing a conference centre with more than 58,000 square feet of ballroom space.

On the west coast, the Vancouver Convention Centre expansion project is expected to triple the centre's current capacity. The project's website notes that "the expansion will increase the number of delegate days each year from the current 150,000 to nearly 370,000 within the first five years after opening. On average, a delegate will spend about $350 per day during their visit to Vancouver, with about one-third of convention delegates traveling to other parts of the province as part of their stay."

Even in light of the strong Canadian dollar? "The parity is definitely affecting our value perception. But when compared to other destinations like Europe, we're still extremely competitive. And the high demand and pricing for US destinations position us as value alternative," said the Canadian Tourism Commission's (CTC) Dan Melesurgo, executive director of meetings & incentive travel sales.

Melesurgo added that today's economics in fact give Canada an opportunity to "change the way we sell - in the past we relied too much on the dollar value versus the true value of the destination: quality service and facilities and proximity of urban and outdoors activities, among other things."

"When groups do meet in Canada they usually have record attendance, which speaks to the overall appeal of our destinations. Canada's state of the art facilities, high service levels, diverse destinations, and distinctive niche product experiences also continue to make us attractive to the US market."

And the seniors will inherit the earth...

A flock of pelicans enjoy the late summer Wascana Lake habitat in Regina
Photo: Claude-Jean Harel
(Originally published in TOURISM)

Dr. Peter Tarlow suggests that from a tourism perspective, the burgeoning seniors' market is really three markets: young seniors, middle seniors, and older seniors. Tarlow, a well known speaker on tourism marketing and the author of Tourism Tidbits e-newsletter, crisis management and security, was quoted in Destination World.

Tarlow says young seniors are people born between the years 1946 - 1960, and have added expendable income, fewer home responsibilities, and relatively good health. They are prime candidates to travel. The middle senior market (born between 1930-1946), or pre baby-boomers, spend a greater amount of time visiting family and friends, have slightly higher medical costs, but still desire to travel. The old seniors are those people born before 1930, are less likely to travel, and when they do travel often seek both security and personalized service.

Tarlow points out that - as is the case in much of the developed world - the 'young senior market' is the largest and wealthiest niche market in the US, comprising some 78 million people. He suggests that over the next 9 years their number will grow 3.5% annually, and that these people also are expected to inherit a great deal of money: by the year 2015 American seniors will have inherited approximately US$ 340 billion dollars.

Senior citizens now live longer than their parents did and they tend to be more active and travel more says Tarlow: "By 2015 they will control a large percentage of the world's assets and will have a tendency to both spend more and to demand more. Seniors are not only the developed world's wealthiest group; they are also its most demanding. The parents of today's upcoming senior citizens tended to spoil them as children, which means that senior citizens are not afraid to demand what they want and will complain until they get it, especially the younger seniors who lived through an era of political activism.

Those organizations, businesses and institutions that provide good customer service have a great opportunity to thrive, he emphasizes, suggesting those that do not may face economic destruction and multiple lawsuits.

The full article is available here