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Insider Experience – CanSPEP

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By: Elodie Lortal, CMP, DES | Dec 17, 2021

CanSPEP Waterloo

Basic details of the event

Title: CanSPEP Hybrid Conference
Date: 27-29 October, 2021
City, Country: Waterloo, Canada
Host Venue:
Planner Day: Delta Waterloo
Main Conference location: Walper Hotel
Offsite receptions: Tapestry Hall and Langdon Hall.

Conference Launch Video

Karen Wiersma headshot
Interviewee: Karen Wiersma 

Elodie Lortal

Interviewer: Elodie Lortal, CMP, DES

CanSPEP - English

Organizing Team:

  • Conference committee consisted of 10 volunteers

CanSPEP is a membership-based association. They are supporting the entrepreneurial event management industry. For more information click here. 
Number of Attendees: about 90 in-person (sold out) + 30 virtually

Specific Event Questions:

Was this the first large in-person event you’ve attended since the pandemic? How did it feel? 
It was my second because I attended Canadian Meeting Events Expo (CMEE) the week before. Therefore, I felt much more comfortable with the travelling and restrictions in place. The communication from the CanSPEP planning committee was incredible. They sent weekly emails communicating their duty of care, what to expect upon arrival at the hotel, they utilized an app where you could upload your proof of vaccination and daily screening. We went on a bus for off-site events; we had to wear a mask and a shield. I felt safe.

Who participated in the conference?
It was a mix of planners and suppliers. The in-person event sold out; the group took over the whole hotel. There were 30 virtual attendees and the MC, Jennifer Spears, did a great job engaging with both audiences. There was a supplier networking event that incorporated the virtual attendees so they could actively participate.  

CanSPEP Breakthrough

What was the main objective of the conference? 
They had three objectives for the conference: to design a hybrid program, to plan a sustainable event and to gather safely. The theme was ‘Breakthrough, Recover, Reclaim and Rise’. They touched on all these throughout the course of the conference.

What was your favourite moment? 
It’s hard to pick a favourite moment! The conference started with a song performed by a CanSPEP member and accompanied by a fellow member on the piano, it was very moving. There were many great speakers who shared their stories of struggle and rising; truly inspiring. If I had to pick one, I’d have to say it was the Awards Dinner. It’s always so great to see members being recognized for their hard work and dedication to our industry.

What safety measures were put in place before & during the conference? 
First, there was excellent communication prior to the event. The team sent weekly emails along with guidelines and ‘know before you go’ information. Next, we were to download the health tracking APP. We used it to upload our double vaccination status ahead of time and also used it as a screening tool each day before entering the conference room. Upon arrival, we did a rapid test when we registered prior to receiving our name badge.

Lastly, masking protocol, we always had to have a mask on unless we were seated with food and beverage. On the bus to the off-site receptions, we had our masks plus a face shield at all times. I would also include service style as the staff at the hotel was very cautious; all meals including coffee breaks were served to us and not self-serve.

What was your biggest fear prior to attending the conference?
My biggest fear was not having the stamina, as the days and nights are busy! Having travelled the week prior, any anxiety I may have had prior to the CanSPEP conference were diminished. Next would be to have enough clothing options to fit into my carry on, as our suitcases were being weighed as part of their sustainability event tracking!

Inclusivity terminology CanSPEP

What are your expectations for future conferences in 2022? 
We have all been through so much these last 20 months, meaningful connections were made and great conversations were had; but had virtually. I imagine that conferences will be designed to ensure that there is time allotted to network and connect with our industry peers in person again.

Events will continue to focus on sustainability and consider their environmental impact. We will continue to take steps to lessen our carbon footprint and to support local. During the pandemic we further realized the importance and impact of meetings on our communities.

Lastly, I expect that our events will reflect the diversity, equality and inclusive world we live in. There will be an expectation that our speakers, panels, messaging, venues, etc. mirror this.

Last Words

CanSPEP was an example of an environmentally friendly conference. They tried to have a carbon neutral conference. They asked us to bring our coffee mugs and water bottles. Most of the meals were plant based.

Not only was it a successful in person conference but they added the sustainable objective as well. They are hosting a “Lessons Learned” event on January 18, 2022, it will be hybrid and information can be found on the CanSPEP website. We can get together in person again! We are getting there!

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

#CanSPEP2021 #breakthrough #bettertogether #eventpreneurs #eventindustry #education #networking #eventscommunity #annualconference



EL Headshot
Elodie Lortal, CMP, DES
Catering Coordinator at National Arts Centre

📢 I am a bilingual meetings and events coordinator who helps clients and organizations to plan their events in one of our five unique meeting spaces. The National Arts Centre is an ideal Ottawa venue for virtual, hybrid, or in-person events.


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