“In the last five years, we have gone from 130 conferences and events to 201, which represents a growth of 65%”, proudly recalls Geneviève Roy, President and CEO of Tourisme Laval. If these figures are pleasing to the director, she adds that Laval is increasingly seen as a leisure destination. But sometimes, the lines between these two types of visitors blur. Indeed, the category of conferences and events also includes exhibitions, sports competitions or even fairs, not just work meetings.
“It’s a classic to come to a conference in Laval!” says the CEO. Many events are held there, such as galas, trade fairs, fairs, conferences and training. “It has been a long time since we have positioned ourselves in the business tourism market” she adds.
If Laval attracts so many events, it is because, as Geneviève Roy reminds us, “50% of the population of Quebec lives within a radius of 50 kilometers from Laval. In addition”, she adds, “it’s a trendy city in Montreal thanks to the metro at Trudeau Airport, and it’s minutes from the Laurentians. In short, Laval is geographically well positioned. Thus, when Tourisme Laval works with promoters or decision-makers, it is first and foremost a map of the proximity we play. But in the last few years, the tourist attractions bring in more and more leisure travelers and we do not hesitate to promote that.”
In Laval, in addition to the offer of shows at Place Bell and shopping, you can surf, fly a Boeing, go climbing or indoor skydive.
The new terminology “bleisure” was formed by adding the b of business to the word leisure. But is there this type of tourism in Laval? To find out, Tourisme Laval decided to conduct a survey. In 2017, the participants of six conferences were questioned, asking them if they had benefited from a tourist activity before, during or after their event. In short we wanted to know if they married business and leisure. As a result, 13% of respondents answered in the affirmative. Genevieve Roy responded to the survey that “yes, bleisure is practiced, but we are far from 100%. However, what is certain is that 100% of the delegates took out a few tickets from their pockets for a meal in the restaurant or a little shopping.”
More and more, people want experiences, even if it’s cliché to say it, admits Mrs. Roy: “We want to experience the city we live in, otherwise we would just have a webinar! And it is an experience that Laval presents. Gourmet experiences, surprising activities and sports outings, “that’s what will make the business travelers experience”.
No wonder Tourisme Laval is betting on social networks to circulate information while giving many tools to event promoters to propel Laval’s offerings. Another strategy is to work upstream with hotels; “If a group is expected, we will equip front-line employees to allow them to direct customers to offers that revolve around their own product. ”
The Hilton Montreal Laval seeks to distinguish itself as “a hotel-boutique style reinvented”, according to Geneviève Roy. In fact, it is a concept suite-hotel with a terrace and barbecue for each apartment. The kitchenettes are complete and you can really cook there. On the ground floor, the hotel has opened a grocery counter where guests find the ingredients to cook real meals. “Here we are at the Hilton with all the standards of the brand; bedding, customer service and upscale maintenance, “she recalls.
While the annual figures for 2017 are not yet known, the director is hopeful that growth will remain strong this year: “Our forecasts are excellent.” She talks about the 2016 tourism growth of 4% and expects this rate to be maintained, as well as the occupancy rate.
This summer will mark the inauguration of new reception structures at Rivière-des-Mille-Îles Park, a $12 million project, and “with the arrival of Place Bell, the transformation of downtown, the Forzani square and the new aquatic complex that will open in 2020, Laval continues to woo corporate event clientele.”