Marketing Vancouver Alongside TED

Vancouver Convention Centre | BCBusiness
By using the cachet of the TED name, Tourism Vancouver hopes to attract new Convention Centre business.

Tourism Vancouver is leveraging the TED name to bring significant new business to the convention centre

Much like the Olympics did in 2010, the TED conference will reinforce Vancouver’s spot on the map as an international tourism destination. But Tourism Vancouver is working hard to leverage the TED name beyond just that. In part of its efforts to bolster business at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Tourism Vancouver will be hosting a group of media from the meeting and convention world this week, showing off the city’s best side. The press tour is part of the organization’s push to market the city alongside its first TED conference.  

So what does incoming media see when they’re promised the best that Vancouver has to offer? Sonu Purhar, travel media relations specialist with Tourism Vancouver, says she wanted to organize a trip that would showcase aspects of the city that are “iconically Vancouver,” including a cycling tour of the seawall, a Harbour Air tour of the city, a walking tour of Vancouver startups, a visit to the aquarium and dining at some of the city’s top restaurants.
Beyond just wining, dining and playing in the outdoors, the itinerary includes meet-and-greets with many of the city’s brightest entrepreneurs. “I included companies like HootSuite and people like Sean Heather and Myriam Laroche—president and founder of Eco Fashion Week—because with such influential individuals and companies sharing their stories at TED, I thought it was important to showcase Vancouver’s own entrepreneurial success,” says Purhar.

Tourism Vancouver vice-president of meeting and convention sales Dave Gazley says they have had to be strategic in the ways they’re promoting the city alongside TED, avoiding the temptation to trumpet the TED name at every opportunity. “They are so protective of their brand, much like the Olympics. We’ve had to be very cautious in how we use it,” he says. “They have to believe that we’re using it in an appropriate way, just as we did with the Olympics. I think the trust is there from them that we’re doing that, so we’re going to try and extend it as much as we can in the market.”

The economic impact of the 1,200 to 1,500 people expected to arrive for the TED conference is estimated at $2.2 million in direct visitor spending, with an overall economic benefit of $4.5 million. But according to Gazley, the value of Vancouver hosting TED goes far beyond these numbers.

“We’re allowed to say ‘Vancouver, TED host city,’ just as we’re allowed to say ‘Olympic host city,’” says Gazley. Using the cachet of the TED brand, Tourism Vancouver is aiming to secure significant new business for the convention centre. “We’re really trying to get as much mileage out of it as we can in terms of letting people know TED picked Vancouver for these reasons, and those are the same reasons that we’d like you to bring your major meeting or convention to our city,” Gazley continues. “That helps Vancouver’s economy extremely.”
Because this is TED’s first year in Vancouver, Gazley says Tourism Vancouver wasn’t able to do as much as it would have liked, but they’re hoping “to get a little more access to the intricacies of how TED works next year.” The conference is committed to two years in Vancouver—2014 and 2015—and Gazley says his hope is that it stays here from 2016-2020. “That would be the next sort of milestone,” he says.