Throughout 2022, Toronto is rolling out the welcome mat to visitors who’ll be attending their first large business gatherings in more than two years. Expectations are high and Toronto is ready to help visitors experience the city in positive, inclusive and meaningful ways.

WELCOME TO TORONTO

What better way to experience Toronto’s diverse cuisine than during Canada’s largest foodservice and hospitality trade show. The RC (Restaurants Canada) Show took place May 9–11, 2022 at Exhibition Place, attracting 20,000 delegates, sponsors and exhibitors over three days.

The sold-out show was attended by restaurant and bar owners, chain operators, hotels, institutions, large food service companies, caterers, chefs, designers and others from across Canada as well as international exhibitors from Peru, Brazil, Italy and Japan, says Lerna G, director, show operations. “This industry was definitely ready to meet in-person and reconnect,” she says.

Attendees got a taste of Toronto’s thriving street cuisine via food trucks that served globally inspired fast-casual dishes during the show. Two off-site events—the Industry Night Out event at Bar Mordecai and a VIP reception at Coffee Oysters Champagne—provided opportunities to get to know the city better.

Chef demonstration during the RC Show trade even
Chef demonstration during the RC Show trade event

HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES

While many jurisdictions, including Toronto and the Province of Ontario, are relaxing some COVID-19 protocols, health and safety is still very much top of mind. Lerna G says the RC Show will be returning to Exhibition Place for the next few years and one of the key reasons is the venue’s high standards for sanitization.

In 2020, Exhibition Place became the first Canadian venue to achieve GBAC Star Facility accreditation, which recognizes industry leading protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention.

“During the pandemic we looked at ways to enhance service delivery and make improvements to the attendee experience,” says Laura Purdy, general manager. Exhibition Place has implemented cashless transactions, installed MERV 13 filtration systems and all staff are fully vaccinated. “We want clients to know that when they come here, our venues are putting infection control at the forefront.”

CONNECT TO CITY CULTURE

Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel just unveiled an extensive renovation designed to help travellers feel more connected to the city. The revitalization includes community tables, tech-enabled studios, purpose-built workspaces and soundproof booths in Sheraton Centre’s expansive lobby as well as two new food and beverage experiences: Dual Citizen, a coffeehouse style grab-and-go that transitions to a lobby bar in the evenings, and 43 Down, a beverage-forward restaurant offering handcrafted cocktails that “tell a great local story,” says Scott Turyk, Sheraton Centre’s director of sales and marketing.

Turyk adds that the Sheraton Centre works with local suppliers, including minority, LGBTQ2S+, disabled, veteran, women and Indigenous-owned businesses, and the renovation has allowed the hotel to “really bring Toronto to life through design elements, such as featuring the work of local artists who represent different communities around the city.” 
 

Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel Lobby
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel reception area featuring artwork by Julie Moon, an Indigenous ceramic artist. Moon was inspired by the history of the location, once a significant gathering spot for Indigenous people

MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES
With Toronto welcoming business visitors back to the city, Monica Gomez, founder of The Concierge Club, offers meeting and event planners these tips for enhancing the attendee experience.

> First impressions are everything. Event guests feel more comfortable when they’re not clustered at an entrance. Stagger entry times to help control the flow of traffic and to reduce wait times. 

> For indoor events, Gomez suggests booking below 100% capacity so that guests have plenty of space to move around. 

> Although restrictions are easing, be ready to pivot at the last minute so that guests feel comfortable. Be sure to post the latest public health rules in the venue, make masks available and be prepared to alter room setups to allow for physical distancing.
 

Cardano Summit 2021
View of the Cardano Summit 2021, a blockchain event streamed at the REBEL event venue