As gathering and travel restrictions began to ease with BC's move to Step 3 of its Restart Plan, our team started seeing an uptick in requests from meeting planners across Canada. As expected, there has been tremendous interest in the fall of 2021, the entirety of 2022, and beyond. While the majority of inquiries are for smaller-scale meetings and events, typically under 80 people, we have had some larger conference requests as well.

Although we eagerly welcome the increased meeting and conference demand for our city, it is not without its challenges. Kelowna is experiencing one of the biggest labour shortages in recent times, on top of managing the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape and wildfires within the region. 

We know our meeting and conference partners are doing their very best and working long hours to be responsive to clients and we are here to support their efforts. While the volume of requests currently coming in may at times seems daunting—particularly since meetings and events business has been sparse since the start of the pandemic—there are some very simple strategies to maximize your success rate of lead opportunities. 

  1. Stay on top of leads. Review and respond to leads when they arrive. Not only does the early bird get the worm, but we also don’t know what the rest of the week has in store for us. If we get the proposals done right away, then we can check them off our list and free up time later on for pressing matters.
  2. Evaluate the opportunity. Not every piece of business may be the right fit for your business. Sustainable growth is important to our destination so take the time to evaluate the opportunity and decide if you would like to pursue the lead. 
  3. Think outside the box. If at a first glance you're not able to meet all the requirements for a certain piece of business, take a few minutes to strategize and come up with an outline of what you can offer. It is becoming more and more common for planners to have to adapt their programs to fit in preferred venues. If a client is asking to accommodate 200 people and you can only fit 150, show them in a proposal how you would adapt their program. Open the door to further discussions.
  4. Pay attention to the details. Planners appreciate receiving proposals that are clear and address all the program details and concession requests. Be sure to customize your proposal template to focus on meeting the client’s needs. That extra attention to detail could just win you the business!
  5. Over-communicate. If you need more time to submit a response or have questions, please let your Tourism Kelowna contact know. We can try and advocate for deadline extensions or get clarification on your questions, but we need to know in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute. 
  6. Collaborate. The pandemic has taught the world a lot about the importance of collaboration. Who are your preferred partners? Can they be a part of a bid or can they support your efforts? Perhaps a hotel and winery can collaborate to host a conference along with activities and off-site programs. Or maybe there is a great activity provider that wants to work with a farm-to-table restaurant to host lunch during a day program. Let’s come together to paint the picture of what is possible in Kelowna.  

Following these simple strategies can enhance our destination’s brand by providing service excellence and ultimately securing more sustainable business for our region.  We all know it feels better when lead opportunities are converted to definite business.