On April 6, 2023, members from the tourism and hospitality community attended the annual Spring Briefing at the new TD Music Hall at the Allied Music Centre to hear Destination Toronto’s plans and initiatives, business intelligence, and to learn about membership and business development opportunities.
Jesse Kumangai, President & CEO of The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, welcomed attendees and set the tone for the event:
“Over the years, I’ve really come to appreciate how all of us in this room feed off of each other's success. I know that a full concert hall means very good things for the hotel industry, for the restaurant industry, and vice versa. When we all win, we win together.”
You can re-watch a recording from the event above and find the presentation here, but there were a few themes that came out of the presentation:
Recovery is not linear
Recovery to date can best be characterized as a mixed bag in that it’s not the same for every business or for all markets, as can be seen in the Market Performance Dashboard.
Non-urban destinations recovered before urban, some businesses in the community recovered before others, and there are four different market recovery stories that have emerged:
- Domestic leisure recovered first, and is over indexed relative to where it might settle and possibly retreat as Canadians resume international travel;
- International markets took longer to return, and are a mixed bag themselves as travel restrictions and border closures impacted recovery levels from different countries;
- Pre-pandemic bookings and rebooked meetings have resulted in a strong 2023 for business events, but there are leaner years in 2024, 2025, and 2026 where the destination is behind pace for future business; and,
- Business transient travellers have not yet fully returned, as hybrid meetings have changed the nature and role of business travel.
The Conference Board of Canada is forecasting a return to pre-pandemic levels by 2025. However, that estimate does not include the growth that would have typically been expected over a six year period.
Working to fill the gap
There is a gap expected in the leisure market as Canadians increasingly travel internationally, but more concerning, is a booking pace deficit for business events in 2024, 2025, and 2026. There are a myriad of reasons that led to the business events gap, but one notable explanation is that the U.S. was not booking future events in countries like Canada that were closed during 2020 and 2021.
Despite these headwinds, citywides are expected to deliver over $600 million in economic impact in 2023. The top producing vertical sectors in 2023 – life science, education, food and beverage, financial, and technology – also represent the greatest opportunity to close the pace deficit for future years.
These vertical sectors, where Toronto has strong economic clusters, provide a value proposition to clients to help drive their attendance and deliver thought leaders. The Global Sales and Services team are targeting prospects who see the value in meeting where research, discovery, innovation, and strategic conversations are already happening. Targeted in-market representation and prospecting also support this strategy.
Last year, Destination Toronto launched the 6ix Stack Attendance Marketing Program. It offers collaborative marketing solutions to select citywide events to aid their marketing efforts, boost meeting attendance and help them break attendance records, as great results support future business.
A nuanced Toronto Narrative
A strategic content-driven marketing strategy is being deployed to support the return of the U.S. and international markets. Visitors engage with channel content at various stages in their planning and decision making process. We meet them where they are to fuel curiosity, drive engagement, and add value, moving them along in the path to purchase.
What makes Toronto special is the mixing of people with different cultures and backgrounds and how it creates something new and fresh, exemplified in Cultures Remix – our business events campaign targeting meeting planners and event organizers.
Our leisure campaign also leans into the idea of cultures remixing. Last year, You Gotta See What We See used Toronto Insiders to tell authentic stories that would resonate with a U.S. audience and help them see themselves in our city. The newest iteration of the campaign (found in the Spring Briefing video above) imagines how the Insider perspectives collect together into multiverses that tell a layered, but singular Toronto story. Watch for more on the You Gotta See What We See multiverses in the coming months.
Engage with us
Everything we do, we aim to do in tandem or in partnership with our community. From our campaigns to our communications with clients, meeting planners, media, travel trade, and consumers, we want you to share your content with us to help us reflect the people and places of Toronto.
Maintain your listing and apply to participate in sales events in our partner portal, upload your photography, and share your events on NowPlayingToronto.com. Send us your press releases, an easy way to keep our team in the know on your news and announcements. And use the Marketing Playbook to align your content themes to our editorial and content strategy. We also encourage you to engage with and share our content. Use the hashtags #MeetinToronto and #SeeTorontoNow to connect to the social conversation.
The Research & Insights Terminal has been built to support and guide your business plans and strategies. Our dynamic Market Performance Dashboard, monthly and quarterly reports, comprehensive EDGE Event calendar, and frequent Industry Insights articles are available to meet your needs and keep you informed on the latest data, thought leadership, and destination marketing trends.
Subscribe to the Terminal 2 newsletter to have all of this information pushed directly to your inbox. At this link you can also sign up to receive our other newsletters including Stories from the 6ix (consumer), Top 6 in the 6ix (meeting planners, event organizers) and TOConnect (travel trade marketers, tour operators, travel agents) to see how we’re positioning the city with these audiences.
We recently relaunched and refreshed the membership program, at the heart of the governance of our organization. Membership provides you with a voice to help set the strategic direction of our organization and is where we draw members for our board and committees. Membership also provides a deeper partnership to promote and grow your business, business leads, and opportunities to jointly create content. Visit our membership page to learn more about how membership can help you engage more deeply with the visitor economy.
Thank you to all who joined us in-person or virtually. We hope you will join us at our Annual General Meeting on June 6, 2023. Watch for more details and registration information in the coming month.