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Oct 13, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – October 13, 2023



As a groomsman at my buddy’s wedding some 34 years ago, I was sitting at the head table next to the podium when the master of ceremonies took the mic to start the reception. A few words into his welcome, he passed out and hit the floor right next to me. After making sure he was okay, I informed the guests we would take a short break to allow the emcee the opportunity to rehydrate, catch his breath, and calm down before resuming formalities.

After about 10 minutes, he stepped up to start again and the same thing happened…only this time I anticipated another mishap and positioned myself to catch him before he bonked his head on the stage. To make a long story short, the emcee sat down for the remainder of the reception while I used his notes to direct the rest of the proceedings.

I’ve witnessed both a groom and a wedding party member pass out before but never the emcee. In this case, there was no formal backup plan so the bride and groom asked me to take over given my extensive public speaking experience.

I am often reminded of that incident when attending events where something goes sideways. Earlier this week, Destination Vancouver (DV) hosted a tourism outlook briefing at SFU downtown where the fire alarm twice forced attendees to vacate the building before the presentations began an hour later than originally scheduled. Full marks to DV’s staff who remained calm and handled the situation extremely well, as did the speakers who improvised but still offered compelling and relevant content on what Vancouver and BC’s tourism sector can expect in the year ahead.

From a macro, general business perspective, the Conference Board of Canada (CBC) noted that the rapid adoption of technology such as e-commerce and remote work is here to stay; business travel will be slow to recover to pre-pandemic levels; more than 700,000 small businesses (including tourism operators) have yet to repay their CEBA loans; between eight and 12 percent of office space remains vacant in major Canadian cities; and higher lending rates are expected to persist for the foreseeable future. Yikes!

For tourism specifically, YVR and DV both noted that pent-up demand for travel to Canada still exists; significant seat capacity is coming to the market from a range of airlines with passenger growth anticipated for 2024; domestic travel is back to 2019 levels; US visitation next year should equal 2019, while travel from other countries is poised to rebound to pre-pandemic levels by 2025/26; and inflation adjusted visitor spending may take a little longer to recover.

The information shared was a mix of positive news and caution. As a former boss used to say…because none of us can predict the future with 100 percent accuracy, every projection is likely to be wrong to some degree. At the same time, given how the tourism sector regularly faces trials of one form or another, it behooves all of us to be prepared as best as possible and improvise as necessary to either deal with global (e.g. pandemic), national (e.g. inflation) or local issues (e.g. wildfires), as well as capitalize on opportunities (e.g. new routes/markets) to ensure that BC’s visitor economy remains on solid footing.

I’m aware that many TIABC members are buried in strategic planning with a focus on assessing market demand, reviewing revenue forecasts, evaluating the feasibility of expanding their businesses, or any number of possibilities for next year and beyond. Considering the ups and downs of BC’s visitor economy so far this year and dating back to 2020, it’s a difficult job to say the least.

Nonetheless, insights from credible sources such as DV, YVR, and CBC on local, national and international trends and data is helpful to make informed decisions to help businesses survive and ultimately prosper in an environment of unpredictability and constant change. Kudos to Destination Vancouver for hosting the session, and to those that waited patiently and stuck around to capture knowledge they can apply to their 2024 business plans.

At my age, the days of being a groomsman or (last-minute) wedding emcee are long behind me but hosting events, meetings, and presenting to groups are not. Thankfully I am usually prepared with a back-up plan in case something goes sideways, especially with technology. At the very least, adapting to a first-time or unanticipated scenario as Destination Vancouver did on Wednesday, is an option that can also work well provided the right people are calling the shots.

In case you’re wondering, the rest of the wedding reception went off without a hitch and everyone laughed at all my stories and jokes even though I wrote none of them. As for the original master of ceremonies…he’s never emceed an event of any kind since that fateful day more than three decades ago.

Walt Judas

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Visit our website to view the 2024 registration fees. Early bird rates are available with member and non-member pricing options. Full conference registrations include complete access to all conference sessions, workshops, silent auction, welcome reception, and the awards gala. Register at our early bird rate before January 17, 2024 to save $100 on your registration!

Learn more and register through link in bio! 👆
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🌺 Lest We Forget.