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What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: #GMID2024, Destination Canada's Convention Attraction Fund, SISO CEO Summit, and More

BizBash rounds up the latest news related to meetings, trade shows, and CVBs/DMOs.

Canadian tourism and hospitality leaders—including Destination Canada President and CEO Marsha Walden, pictured fourth from left—celebrate the launch of Destination Canada's International Convention Attraction Fund.
Canadian tourism and hospitality leaders—including Destination Canada President and CEO Marsha Walden, pictured fourth from left—celebrate the launch of Destination Canada's International Convention Attraction Fund.
Photo: Courtesy of Destination Canada

In Case You Missed It

Last week, BizBash broke down some of the most engaging trade show booths from Natural Products Expo West by Informa Markets (BizBash’s parent company). More than 3,300 exhibiting companies, including 840 new-to-show brands, showcased their products—ranging from consumer packaged goods to natural foods to lifestyle items. 

Also this month, we explored the fact that more and more event venues and destinations are becoming Certified Autism Centers. We looked into what that means—and some best practices all event professionals should keep in mind.

Here are five more things you should know about this month...

1. Destination Canada launched a fund to attract more international conventions.

Our neighbors to the north are looking to bolster their global competitiveness in attracting major international conventions, conferences, and events. Destination Canada announced last month that it has launched a new, three-year International Convention Attraction Fund (ICAF). 

It will provide financial backing to bids on major international conventions. The awarded financial commitment, eligible up to $1 million CAD, is determined by a preestablished scoring system based on select criteria, demonstrating the value of each bidding opportunity. So who can apply? Destination Canada says DMOs can, and they must have an international business events attraction strategy that includes hosting infrastructure and facilities, marketing and promotion, dedicated financial and human resources, and industry collaboration. 

Applications must be submitted online at least three months prior to the bid due date. 

"We see 2024 as Canada's year of competitiveness for business events," said Destination Canada CEO Marsha Walden in a statement. "This is what it takes to compete for the world's major business events—and win. Business events have immediate benefits for the Canadian economy and the tourism sector today as well as long-term 'beyond tourism' benefits in attracting foreign direct investment, innovative businesses, and new talent in high-growth sectors that are critical to Canada's future economy." 

2. Global Meetings Industry Day took social media by storm last week.

If you were scrolling through your LinkedIn feed last Thursday, April 11, you likely noticed it was Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID). The international day of advocacy—now in its eighth year—aims to showcase the value of business events and incentive travel. It was created by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, now under the umbrella of the U.S. Travel Association.

The GMID theme for 2024: the Event Professionals' Journey. Last week, countless live and virtual events took place to celebrate the occasion, including from PCMA. The organization held a panel discussion and a keynote presentation at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Speakers included Marriott International's Melissa Froehlich Flood and U.S. Travel Association's Nicole Porter.

MPI, meanwhile, hosted a 12-hour broadcast from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. featuring industry leaders sharing insights and experiences on the impact of meetings on the global economy. Speakers included IMEX's Carina Bauer, ASAE's Michelle Mason, and Encore's Amanda Armstrong. 

Save the date: GMID 2025 takes place April 5.

Gcz 6450 (1)Photo: Courtesy of SISO

3. SISO CEO Summit brings trade show industry leaders to Amelia Island, Fla.

Last week, the Society of Independent Show Organizers held its annual SISO CEO Summit at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island in Florida. It brought together more than 300 global show organizers for networking and information sharing. Speakers included Lance Fensterman of Fanatics Events, Deirdre Connolly of BravoCon, and Hugh Forrest of South by Southwest (SXSW). Education sessions included topics like industry data and trends, show mergers and acquisitions, and finding new talent.

4. Brand USA appoints new leader.

The U.S.'s official destination marketing organization, Brand USA, has tapped Fred Dixon as its new president and CEO, effective July 15. Dixon comes from a nearly 20-year tenure at NYC Tourism + Conventions and will succeed Christopher Thompson, who announced his retirement in July 2023. Dixon will oversee all of Brand USA’s operations as the company prepares for its next phase of growth.

“Fred brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from across the travel and tourism industry, and his strategic, visionary, and humble leadership proved that he is the right person to take Brand USA and the marketing of the U.S.'s rich and diverse destinations and experiences to even greater heights," said Todd Davidson, Brand USA board chair and CEO of Travel Oregon, in a statement. "Brand USA’s ability to drive impact with stakeholders and optimize the travel industry's critical economic contributions to the U.S. economy will prosper under Fred’s leadership.”

5. Visit Anaheim names new president and CEO.

The official DMO for Anaheim, Calif., announced its new president and CEO last week—and you might recognize him. Mike Waterman, the former chief sales officer for Visit Orlando, will helm Visit Anaheim as of April 29. 

"I am honored and excited to accept this amazing opportunity," Waterman said in a press release. "My wife and I raised our family in Southern California and are very much looking forward to this next chapter. I am eager to work with the talented Visit Anaheim team and its local stakeholders to fulfill our mission and create new economic opportunities for the community.”

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