The CMP Designation

Studying for the Certified Meeting Professional exam? MPI Ottawa has you covered!
Learn More

MPI Ottawa Upcoming Events

Check out all the exciting events taking place in 2021 and 2022
Learn More

Overall Excellence Chapter Award



Insider Experience – Canadian Meeting + Events Expo

IExp banner

By: Arzoo Zaheer | Dec 22, 2021

Insider Experience – Canadian Meeting + Events Expo 
#cmeexpo #meetingplanner #eventplanner #events #TOevents

Basic details of the event:
Title: Canadian Meeting Events Expo
Date: October 19 - 20, 2021
City, Country: Toronto, Canada
Host Venue: Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Theresa Gatto Headshot
Interviewee: Theresa Gatto, BBA, CMP, DES


Interviewer: Arzoo Zaheer


Was this the first large in-person event you’ve attended since the pandemic? How did it feel?

The Canadian Meetings + Events Expo (CMEExpo) is both the first large event that took place in Canada and the very first event that took place inside Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) since the pandemic started.

This is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that I was able to see people from our industry gathered in one place. After so long, it was nice to see all the suppliers and planners together and it felt great to experience some sort of normalcy after all this time. As soon as I walked in, it felt as if I’d never left. The setup was very similar to that from previous events; but this was a much smaller event and seeing everybody again felt like a homecoming; a reunion. This experience was emotional in some ways: a lot of people were expressing happiness and others were cautiously wondering what type of behavior was acceptable-should we be hugging, shaking hands, handing out business cards and so forth.

The organizers of this event did a great job making others feel safe. Only fully vaccinated individuals were allowed to enter the building; and, upon entrance attendees were given a stamp that could be cross-referenced that they had been verified. When attendees entered, they were given coloured ribbons that could be worn on their badges. For example, green ribbon meant that you were comfortable being close to people, hugging, or shaking hands; and orange ribbon indicates the need to be cautious because these attendees weren’t fully sure about close contact, and it was best to keep a distance between both of you.

My biggest concern was the fear of the unknown, and how it would feel attending my first in-person event since the pandemic started. People were fully vaccinated, so that provided a level of certainly and assurance among attendees.  I was confident that the organizers of this show and industry professionals would be taking all the necessary safety precautions throughout the two days. As an industry, we needed to show that we can meet safely, and this was a great start.  

As much as there was apprehension, there was also a lot of excitement. And Team Ottawa was thrilled to share our new branding and to welcome everyone to our booth and to Ottawa with open arms! Seeing our destination video back up on the big screens, was surreal, and made me proud to remind everyone that Ottawa is the heart and soul of Canada, making every visitor feel welcome and every Canadian even more proud of the country they call home.

Leanne C.

Who participated at the expo? What was your favorite session?

This show had mostly Canadian exhibitors this year; I didn’t see many international exhibitors, compared to previous years, so this one was certainly smaller than in the past.

Ottawa Tourism was pleased to exhibit with our partners. There were eight members from Ottawa in our booth, including the Ottawa Marriott, Delta Hotels by Marriott Ottawa City Centre, Westin Ottawa, Brookstreet Hotel, Hilton Lac Leamy, Fairmont Chateau Laurier, JPDL and Intertask Conferences and our award-winning convention Centre, Shaw Centre. It was great to have the support from our members to attend CMEE and to collectively show our support for the industry, as we start to recover.

Ottawa Tourism was pleased to collaborate and partner with Leanne Calderwood a professional coach well-versed in personal branding and LinkedIn training. Leanne conducted two sessions, one on personal branding and the other on how to harness the power of LinkedIn to grow your brand. We were very fortunate to have Leanne come to our booth, where attendees were able to have their profiles personally reviewed by her; and receive expert tips on different ways to enhance their LinkedIn profiles. Both of her sessions were well-received by the show attendees.


 What was the main objective of the expo?

It was twofold this year. We go to CMEE to foster and build relationships with our clients, to network, and to find new business opportunities and partnerships. One way that CMEE helps us to do this is, with their appointment scheduler, which enables us to pre-schedule appointments ahead of the show, helping us create those connections.

Secondly it was very important for us to show our support for the industry and for our recovery; as well as being part of the first industry show that had taken place in Canada since the beginning of this pandemic—I think this was the first expo at the MTCC. We weren’t sure how many people were going to attend; and the attendance was certainly lower than in previous years, which we all expected going into the show. Honestly, it was great to see people in person again and to check in to see how they were doing.

CMEE offered a glimmer of hope, a glimpse of normalcy, and an expectation that the events industry will come back! This show certainly displayed the resiliency of our industry—it was great to see this first step forward. 

What safety measures put in place for the expo?

There were several safety measures in place: 

  1. Coloured ribbons were used to help everyone practice social distancing and acceptable behavior.
  2. Hand sanitizer stations were everywhere and thus not hard to find.
  3. As we walked into the Metro Convention Centre, we were greeted with a warm smile by security, who screened visitors’ reasons for entering the building; and directed us to the computers for the screening process. Only those who were attending CMEExpo were allowed to enter this building. Staff also checked who was leaving the building; and they guided us to hand sanitizing stations.
  4. All the attendees were required to fill out a pre-COVID screening before entering. Every day, we had to show that we had passed that screening.
  5. The entrance to the InterContinental hotel that was attached to MTCC was closed so nobody could enter or leave the building from there; there was a security guard standing near the entrance. I believe that all other doors were locked in the North Building and South Building. I could see the flow of people only from the parking garage and Front Street. But all the visitors would eventually end up at the Registration Desk where a staff member would guide them accordingly.

What are your expectations for the expo in 2022?

I am optimistic that next year’s expo will feel a little bit more back to normal, with more people attending the show in person. I think that the show will be bigger next year because planners will feel more comfortable about travelling and attending. This first large event showed people that it was safe to hold meetings, which provided a sense of security and comfort.

Even as restrictions ease, there are still many who are not comfortable going out and being among strangers or friends. Therefore, many events are going hybrid for the interim. Those who are comfortable connecting with others face-to- face would hold in-person events, those who aren’t comfortable yet are going virtual, and some will try to merge the two together. Currently, we are witnessing this trend in the international market—as global restrictions and comfort levels for everybody are very different. We are a resilient industry, and we will rally for recovery together!

Article edited by Darlene Kelly-Stewart, Stonehouse Sales & Marketing Services ces



Arzoo Zaheer


Load more comments
New code
Comment by from




Connect with Us

Chapter Advertisement

Job Postings