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Tête-à-Tête Tradeshow

By on November 13, 2013

If you missed the 2013 Tête-à-Tête tradeshow in Ottawa, don’t worry because it’s back, and this year, it’s bigger than ever!

Tête-à-Tête is an annual tradeshow designed for companies to promote their goods and services to corporate and association meeting planners. Last year’s CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Tradeshow was held on January 31st, 2013, showcasing 470 participating exhibitors representing over 160 different companies/organizations and 525 attendees. The exhibitors included everything, from tourism bureaus, hotels, and travel transportation – to public speakers, decor and audio-visual services and this year, they’ve again sold out the exhibitor space! This year, on February 6th 2014, approximately 160 different organizations/companies will work the floor of the Ottawa Convention Centre, that, compounded by the fact that the Breakfast Keynote Speaker is David Chilton author of the Wealthy Barber and Dragon on CBC’s “Dragons’ Den” makes this year’s show a ‘must see’. And, just in case you still aren’t completely sold, take a look at all the stand-out things that happened last year.

The show was held in the newly-opened Ottawa Convention Centre. Displaying a bold and modern design, the exhibition was wrapped in a beautiful naturally-lit lobby, which also included magnificent panoramic views of the Rideau Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site and Parliament Hill. The people were friendly and welcoming, the queues orderly, and thus I felt encouraged to walk around and speak to a number of people in order to learn about the latest news and updates.

The biggest buzz during the tradeshow came via Atlantic Canada. The city of St-Johns Newfoundland, had recently made a 60$ million investment with plans to open their newly expanded Convention Centre in 2015, which will also be directly connected to the Delta Hotel with 18 meeting rooms in a 100,000 sq. ft. area. In addition, Nova Scotia has also made a significant investment and has begun construction on an 18-storey Convention Centre slated to be open in 2016.

But if you’re planning a major conference in Atlantic Canada before 2016, the Meetings and Conventions Centre in P.E.I. has much to offer with over 2,000 hotel rooms throughout the island, and 200,000 sq. feet available for meetings and exhibits.

There was also encouraging news from the Eastern side. Saguenay, Quebec has spent over 10$ million on their multifunctional Congress Centres while the Toronto Congress Centre is now home to the largest column-free ballroom in Canada, with over 30,000 sq. ft. of pillar free space.

Moving further West, Alberta also holds a great variety of activities whether you’re seeking relaxation or excitement. Everything from spas, skiing, ice-climbing, and snowshoeing were promoted.

Information like this encourages planners to attend year after year, as well as attracts anew but what about suppliers? We asked exhibitors why they attend tete a tete and heres what they had to say;
“Tete a Tete continues to be a valuable networking opportunity for Conventions Regina year over year. The quality of buyers is significant and the show provides a forum to connect with existing clients but also gives the chance to showcase our city to new ones.” Chelsea Galloway, Chelsea Galloway, Manager, Convention Business Development, Conventions Regina.

“There are a good number of different industry events offered in the National Capital Region. And there is only one event where both Freeman and our sister company AVW-TELAV consistently exhibit – and that is CSAE’s Tête-à-Tête.  We do this because it represents a measurable ROI for our marketing investment and is, quite simply, the best value in the Region. From our perspective Tête-à-Tête is the most effective use of our experiential marketing dollars. In a one day format we can meet and impress practically every significant Association representative in the National Capital.” Kevin Wolfe, General Manager, Freeman

“ CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter Tête-à-Tête showcase is the premier event in the region.  It allows exhibitors to maintain and build relationships with existing association clients while searching for new prospect to add to their existing portfolio. The event is produced in a most professional manner hence its ongoing success.  That is one of the reasons why putting on a display at Tête-à-Tête is an essential for all organizations that rely on being successful in the association industry.” Jacques Drury, CMP, CASE, Senior Manager, National Convention Sales, Ottawa Convention Centre

“Tete a Tete is an excellent tradeshow for many reasons, but what stands out the most about this show is it’s a show where business actually takes place. When representing a destination (province) it is the one show that is in demand with partners because the return on the investment is far superior then the cost to participate. Tradeshows in our industry are not as productive as hosted buyer programs now a days, but Tete a Tete proves there is still a place for a successful tradeshow to happen. I love the show size, they continue to keep this show very intimate.” Jennifer Holly, Travel Alberta.

Although the ultimate purpose of such exhibitions is to meet contacts within the industry and discover new venues for future events, some exhibitors felt visitors were noticeably distracted by the various gifts and freebies given out at individual stands. However, for those who are less easily distracted – such as Peter George, President of Trilogy International Management – The Tête-à-Tête tradeshows offers unique, learning opportunities. In fact, he says exhibitors often bring their most senior professionals to represent their companies as opposed to junior reps, which made his trip worthwhile.

Speaking of travel, I was pleasantly surprised by VIA Rails travel experience. Travelling Economy class proved surprisingly comfortable, and fellow commuters were equally groggy in the early morn, so we caught up on some extra snooze time. The trip back in business class, however, was the opposite. Equipped with Wi-Fi, work tables, and electrical outlets, the train’s environment enabled me to work efficiently.  With newly made contacts fresh in my mind, “follow up” was crossed off my to-do- list, concluding my Tête-à-Tête experience (apart from this article of course). The only disruption is when I had to put my laptop away to sip some wine or eat a hot meal… what a life! Via trains with direct destination to Ottawa spread far and wide, from Kingston, Toronto, and Quebec you can connect with larger routes across Canada making the Tradeshow accessible to many.

As a planner, it is worthwhile to attend Tête-à-Tête because it is well executed, educational, and a valuable networking opportunity. Having made interesting contacts at the events, I look forward to going again this year!

Tête-à-Tête Delegate Registration is Free, hope to see you there and don’t forget the MPI Charitiy Auction Dinner!

Delegate Registration Opens November 19th, 2013

Tête-à-Tête is open to all Association and Not-For-Profit Executive Directors and Employees, Professional Meeting Planners and Government Procurers. Closed to non-exhibiting suppliers.

For more information, contact Kathryn Cyr, CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Secretariat at 613-271-1476 or email 



Amber Jackson


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