When my high school buddy (who married my cousin) reached out last fall to invite six other couples to vacation together in Mexico in February, I originally said no and reminded my wife that it’s the worst time of the year for me to go with so many details to attend to in the days leading up to the annual BC Tourism & Hospitality Conference (BCT&HC – March 1-3 – Prince George).
If looks could kill I wouldn’t be writing this message now. Seriously though, I really didn’t want to disappoint my (FOMO) wife by passing on a chance to hang out with family and friends in beautiful Los Cabos, even if the timing was lousy. So we agreed that I could still put in a couple of hours early in the morning and just before dinner while working on my tennis game and tan in between.
The fact is, for the first two months of every year my mind turns to workshop outlines and speaker confirmations, award nominations, delegate and sponsorship targets, event logistics, and other conference related concerns. Given the importance of this event to the industry, as well as to TIABC’s bottom line, I’m always a little nervous in the months leading up to BCT&HC, even though recent history suggests I shouldn’t be. Thanks to the support of our event management team (ConnectSeven Group) and the solid working relationship between TIABC and BCHA, the conference always comes together nicely, albeit with a few hiccups along the way.
Earlier this week our BCT&HC event team met to tie up some loose ends and to ensure we’re on track with our objectives. I’m pleased to say that more than 300 delegates have registered so far, while more than two dozen sponsors have stepped up to support the conference, including anchor supporters Destination BC and Indigenous Tourism BC. Tourism Prince George, Northern BC Tourism, the City of Prince George, and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation are pulling out all the stops to make this conference both enjoyable and memorable for every attendee.
As I recently explained to a journalist from Prince George, it’s the first time the BCT&HC has been held in the North. In fact, many delegates have never been to BC’s northern capital, let alone the top half of the province. As a provincial organization, TIABC is thrilled to be able to move the conference to another region aside from the usual rotation of Metro Vancouver, Victoria, and Kelowna.
As for the BCT&HC itself…along with the excellent plenary sessions and social events, all 16 workshops will offer valuable content that virtually every delegate will appreciate, no matter which sector, type of business, or community they represent. While I’d like to mention them all, I’m thrilled by the new topics we’ve introduced this year including Power of Matriarchy – Leadership Lessons from Indigenous Women in Tourism; Psychologically Safe Workplaces; Travel Digitization; and a report on the province’s Tourism Renewal Initiative.
I’m also looking forward to the annual BC Tourism & Hospitality Awards gala where nine recipients (out of 117 submissions) will be honoured for their outstanding contributions to our industry. To recognize and celebrate the best of the best is always fun and motivating.
On the final day, we’ll hear from renowned tourism expert Anna Pollock, whose presentation on a regenerative travel and hospitality economy will take both a positive and a big picture view of tourism past, present and future to suggest that the hospitality & travel sector does have a unique and powerful role to play in revitalizing economies, places and people provided that it returns to its essential purpose and role. Anna is an outstanding presenter and always gets delegates thinking.
If you’re on the fence about attending, I strongly encourage you to join your industry colleagues from across the province in Prince George next month. Not only will it help ease my nervousness regarding delegate numbers, but I guarantee it will be worth your while.
In the meantime, it’s time for me to hit the tennis court or beach with my wife and our family/friends to enjoy the last few days of my vacation. After all, there is never a shortage of work…only sunny days, holidays, and time spent with people you love.
Have a wonderful Family Day weekend. See you in Prince George soon.