Montréal: Meetings on the Cutting Edge

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Montréal: Meetings on the Cutting Edge

By Blair Potter | Sep 1, 2020

In July, Montréal was named top host city in the Americas for international events by the International Meetings Statistics Report for 2019. The city earned the No. 1 spot for the third consecutive year.

The report, released by the Union of International Associations, takes into account a massive 465,000+ events organized in nearly 11,500 cities by more than 25,000 international organizations.

“Montréal has been enjoying a solid reputation in business tourism for many years, as well as enviable growth in organizing and hosting major events, business meetings and conferences,” says Yves Lalumière, CEO of Tourisme Montréal. “Were it not for the COVID-19 global pandemic, our city would have continued hosting international events and attaining new levels in 2020. Just like its citizens, Montréal and the members of its business tourism community have been resilient and proactive in the face of the pandemic so that we may continue building on the momentum the city was experiencing.”

Coping with COVID

Like many cities, Montréal has seen a gradual reopening of public spaces and businesses. And last month, the government began allowing indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people. The border is currently closed to foreign nationals, and a 14-day quarantine is required for anyone entering the country (including citizens).

Lalumière says Tourisme Montréal is closely monitoring the situation and announcements made by health authorities regarding meetings and events.

“Our objective is to remain in contact with clients and partners to evaluate the possibilities, while being cautious about the risks; safety and health remain our top priorities,” he says. “We are working on making Montréal a safe destination with adapted solutions for meetings and events. Tourisme Montréal, along with partners from the industry, has worked on a safety protocol that addresses all steps of the trip, from your arrival at the airport to your stay at the hotel and your excursion in the city.” (Editor’s note: Shortly after this interview, the 720° Safety Protocol—"a one-stop place for planning a safe and smooth event”—was announced.)

“In addition to introducing a rigorous health and safety program, the Palais has grown its offering to include hybrid event solutions.”

An example Lalumière offers is the Palais des congrès de Montréal—the city’s largest event facility, offering more than 500,000 square feet of space in 113 rooms.

“In addition to introducing a rigorous health and safety program known as PROGRESS (Palais Reopening Operating Guide to Running Events with Safety Standards), the Palais has grown its offering to include hybrid event solutions,” he says. “The Palais’ newly created video and podcast studio, Palais Média Propulsion, enables organizers to broaden the reach of their events. The Palais now has a series of turnkey packages for hosting gatherings of up to 250 people tailored to the reopening of activities.”

Lalumière says a few events and meetings are scheduled for Montréal this fall, but notes “organizers are waiting to see how the situation will evolve: second wave, borders, indoor gatherings limit, etc.”

Meetings Versatility

But enough about COVID-19. Montréal is, and will continue to be, known as a city of creativity and innovation. It’s no accident that it continues to make so many lists: top five, best cities in the world to live and work abroad (Expat City Ranking); top 10, best cities in the world (TimeOut); and No. 1 for international events (International Congress and Convention Association).

“We believe that many elements play a key role for our city to reach this enviable position, from its unique lively vibe, safe environment and urban mobility to the quality of its infrastructures and the flexibility of its technological and technical solutions,” Lalumière says. “The city is one of the world’s most active startup hotbed cities, home base to over 2,500 active startups.”

Wellbeing Resources: Supporting the wellbeing of our meeting and event planner community.

The city’s wide array of meeting venues is led by the aforementioned Palais des congrès de Montréal, whose multicolored glass façade featuring 332 colored glass panels and 58 transparent glass panels earned it a spot in the book 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die.

Lalumière says other popular options include Centre Mont-Royal, with spaces ranging from banquet halls to theaters spaces; the Grand Quay of the Port of Montréal, with multipurpose rooms, outdoor spaces and a promenade; and hotel spaces such as Hotel le Crystal’s CONNEXION floor (offering 6,000 square feet, including a ballroom) and the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth’s cutting-edge rooftop Espace C2 space.

“Montréal is very versatile when it comes to meetings and events,” Lalumière says. “The city has a large selection of indoor and outdoor spaces. As a major research hub in AI, clean technology and neuroscience, Montréal is the perfect home base for conferences and meetings on the cutting edge.”

Active and Outside

Guided tours by foot, bicycle or electric scooter themed around history, culture or urban art are ideal for Montréal visitors because they allow for many new discoveries in a fixed timeframe, Lalumière says, noting that the city has rethought its public space by creating safe, active transportation circuits.

“More than 1,200 kilometers (nearly 750 miles) of secure pedestrian and bike paths are accessible across Montréal,” he says.

There’s much for visitors to do with their free time in the city, including many outdoor activities, which have taken on extra importance in an era of social distancing.

“As a major research hub in AI, clean technology and neuroscience, Montréal is the perfect home base for conferences and meetings on the cutting edge.”

“During time off, we suggest going for a swim at one of Montréal’s urban beaches, like Jean-Doré with its golden sand located just minutes away from downtown; seeing Montréal from another angle by booking a river cruise departing from the Old Port; playing a round of golf at one of the six courses on the island; enjoying some quiet time in one of the many parks and green spaces, including the shady paths of Mount Royal; or to getting inspired by the city’s must-see museum exhibitions,” Lalumière says.

The city’s food scene runs the gamut, from food trucks to gourmet dining.

“Cool off with ice cream, ice coffee or an ice-cold locally brewed beer; grab some takeout and have a picnic in a park; or seal a deal over a dining experience at one of the finest Montréal establishments, like Europea,” Lalumière says.



Blair Potter
Blair Potter

Blair Potter is managing editor for The Meeting Professional. He likes toys and collects cats (or is it the other way around?).