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The Booths of Rendezvous Canada 2011

The fact that this post is going live almost a full two months since RVC11 gives you a sense of how successful Canada’s largest Tourism conference can be for a company servicing the destination marketing sector.

Since we returned from our first Rendezvous Canada experience at the end of May we have been extremely busy servicing the businesses and new friends we met in Quebec City, so all our plans for wrap up blog posts, large scale communications follow up etc were postponed until we got our our feet back on the ground.

We had a lot of positive experiences in Quebec City at RVC11. The Conference was extremely well planned and executed upon by the Canadian Tourism Commission, from the layout, to the efficiency of the appointments, to the catering and entertainment. They did a top notch job and partnered with excellent people to ensure a seamless experience for everyone involved.

But we’ll write more about all that in a later post, as this one is just a retrospective on the quality of exhibitor booths at the Conference. We’ve been to plenty of other trade shows in our time, but this one was a little different because of the appointment component, whereby buyers had scheduled meetings at seller booths for the duration of the show rather than the usual free-form walkabout we are used to. It was intriguing to see how booth designers went about catering to this unique format.

We took a few pictures of some of the booths that stood out for us:

Canadian Tourism Commission Booth
Main CTC Marketplace Booth
Via Rail - Full Train Experience
Via Rail – Full Train Experience

The Canadian Tourism Commission booth dominated the skyline of the conference hall but retained a spacious and functional air that catered to group meetings, private consultations behind closed doors and lots of visual interest in the architecture and flat screens placed strategically on the various walls.

Via Rail took a different approach by building a full scale replica of the interior of one of their trains and backing it up with a massive bank of LCD screens which could push marketing messages along with showing scenery from along the routes they service, mimicking the windows on the trains.

Air Canada Hospitality
Air Canada Hospitality
Best Western Mini Hotel
Best Western Mini Hotel

Air Canada followed a similar theme to Via Rail by constructing a cross-section of one of their larger jets, borrowing from the inflight entertainment motif and re-purposing overhead storage bins as table tops. The overall effect was subtle but clever and comfortable for small meetings and chats.

At the Best Western booth they made a valiant effort to distill everything about their hotel experience into a small space by tying together elements of a front lobby, room decor, and hotel bar feel. It largely worked but wasn’t quite as impressive as some others.

Outside of the uber-rich, some of the smaller attendees still did a great job of drawing attention to their offering. While most of the DMOs largely went with the default booth configuration and scads of literature, a few others did some interesting things.

Quebec Aboriginal Nations
Quebec Aboriginal Nations – Canoe Building!
Borealis Centre for the history of the Paper Industry
Borealis Centre for the history of the Paper Industry

There was actually a gentleman at the Quebec Aboriginal Tourism booth who was carving, soaking and fastening together replicas of full size canoes, right in the conference hall. It was somewhat intimidating to see such craftsmanship in action, and certainly stands out as an enduring memory.

The booth representing the Borealis Centre for the history of the Paper Industry always caught my eye as I traversed around the Ontario and Quebec sections on the tradeshow floor because of their creative use of paper (cardboard) to create a neat 3d effect as the centerpiece of their exhibit.

One of the reasons for making this post is because we are always interested in creativity in marketing, especially in tourism. The other reason is that this year’s RVC will forever be associated with booth shenanigans for our attendees. When we first arrived to set up, our courier had not delivered the booth and were not working on the weekend. After much calling and cajoling we had half our booth delivered on the morning the show began, with the rest arriving the next morning, much to the chagrin of all involved.

iSTORM Booth on Day 2
iSTORM Booth on Day 2
iSTORM Booth on Day 3
iSTORM Booth on Day 3

Not only that, but the unique format of the show meant that we did have to compromise somewhat on how we used our booth elements in order to not upset the very people who had helped us out so much when we arrived boothless and appointment-free.

These two shots represent how we managed to shoehorn our booth in on day two, and then the altered layout on day three to ensure we were adhering to the show rules. While we admit it wasn’t perfect, it still gave us good visibility and a great place to offer the free furry friends out to anyone who wanted a little gift to take home from Quebec City but never got the chance to leave their booth.

We very much enjoyed our whole experience at RVC11 and met a lot of new friends and business partners. If you were there and have anything to share about the booths or overall impression of the experience then we would love to hear from you in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Thanks Quebec City!
Thanks Quebec City!


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