Anyone who’s had to plan and organize a conference knows the process can be a nightmare. It’s exhausting to say the least, and with so many components to consider — everything from choosing a venue and lining up a caterer, to hiring security and setting up audiovisual —there’s plenty of opportunity for error and miscommunications.
If a hassle-free conference is your impossible dream, we have some exciting news for you. Read on to hear from four Atlantic Canadian professionals who want to make your next event easier.
SilverBirch Conference Centre
(Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Centrally located in downtown Halifax, the SilverBirch Conference Centre offers easy access to major corporate headquarters as well as shopping, dining and entertainment. And, it’s conveniently located between two Hilton hotels — Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn, each catering to the needs of their respective guests.
Hampton Inn guests enjoy guest rooms equipped with modern amenities designed to help them relax while Homewood Suites provides travelers with amenities and services that maximize their travel budget, including complimentary internet, daily breakfast and evening socials. In addition, Homewood’s guest suites boast fully equipped kitchens, along with complimentary grocery shopping and laundry services — all amenities that enable travelers to feel at home.
Halifax’s SilverBirch Conference Centre is among the most inspiring conference centres in Canada. It’s a distraction-free and ergonomically-advanced facility with leading edge technology, personalized service and healthy food options, guaranteeing a premier meeting experience. The all-inclusive meeting packages are designed to make meeting planning stress-free, convenient and easy to budget.
“Usually, when a meeting planner calls, they have to go through all the questions of what they might need,” says general manager Denis Gilles. “For us, it’s very simple. We ask how many people will attend, and everything else is included. In the morning, the coffee service, including breakfast items, is ready in the centrally located connection café. Our clients don’t have to plan, no one’s bothering anyone at any time. They break whenever they want, without having the pressure of ‘Oh, we have to go because they’re waiting for us.’ And it’s the same for lunch and snack. Everything is very straightforward, very easy. It’s successful because it doesn’t give the planner headaches, and the attendees love the concept.”
The SBCC also puts special emphasis on something that’s increasingly showing up in event contracts: security.
“We take care of the guests from the time they check into their rooms,” says Gilles. “Security is more and more important when you’re travelling nowadays. Our security has access to the main floors and the ground floors, and people appreciate that. We also have cameras on every floor and in the elevators.”
Saint John Airport
(Saint John, New Brunswick)
Saint John Airport has a strong relationship with a network of local convention and event planners. According to interim president and CEO Angela McLean, these planners help ensure that Saint John visitors have a positive first impression of the area from the very beginning.
“We also work with our longstanding airline partner, Air Canada, to ensure seat capacity for special events and to facilitate the movement of attendees,” says McLean. “And on the ground, we co-ordinate parking, signage, and reception space for welcoming committees.”
More than anything, they strive to make the travel experience simple and efficient, with a strong emphasis on friendly service. They’ve also made a lot of effort to give the facility a welcoming feel, adding a newly renovated restaurant area, and a local art program.
“We boast about having a passenger check-in process that takes about 15 minutes to get from the parking lot to the gate,” says McLean. “The entire airport family understands that travel can be stressful. We want to make the air travel experience seamless, so that people have one less thing to worry about when they are planning or attending an event.”
Port Saint John
(Saint John, New Brunswick)
When we think of shipping ports, most of us picture bustling loading docks and busy shipyards. And when it comes to Port Saint John, we wouldn’t be wrong, but the facility is also a lot more than that — it’s also a beautiful spot to hold a corporate event or a wedding.
“Traditionally, we’ve been a large industrial presence in our community,” says venue coordinator Emily Teed. “But in the last six years, we’ve taken a different approach that’s really helped us take our community relationships further and provide more value.”
The port offers two cruise terminals with three distinct rental spaces, along with waterside glass-encased pedways and rooftop patios that can add unique event opportunities. Spaces range in size, from the Fundy Room which can accommodate smaller groups, to larger spaces which can host as many as 500.
The view is probably the best part. “Every room has a view of our waterfront,” says Teed. “In terms of rental space in the city, we’re as close to the water as you can possibly get. We’re located right in the middle of the city, it’s walking distance from the hotels, and we offer complimentary uptown parking.”
Each of the three rental spaces also has its own unique theme, including the captain’s quarters-inspired Marco Polo cruise terminal and the Diamond Jubilee space with its 32-foot windows and contemporary design.
Town of Grand Falls-Windsor
(Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland)
Centrally located in Newfoundland and just 50 minutes from an international airport, the town of Grand Falls-Windsor has everything you need to make your next meeting or convention successful. According to economic development officer Gary Hennessey, Grand Falls-Windsor is a natural meeting place for convention attendees from anywhere in Newfoundland.
“With its ample shopping, fine dining, and vibrant nightlife, Grand Falls-Windsor makes the perfect setting for your next convention,” says Hennessy.
“Our friendly hospitality, abundant services, and comfortable accommodations are sure to make your next event productive, memorable, and fun.”
The community is clean and peaceful, offering plenty of small town charm and big city amenities.
“We have several hotels here in town that can host major events and a new one, Red Roof Inns, planned for later this year,” says Hennessey. “In terms of locations for meetings, the Mount Peyton Hotel is the largest hotel with a meeting room that can hold almost 200. There are several other facilities in the community, including the Shalup Centre, Royal Canadian Legion, and the Grand Falls Golf Club, that can also host that number.”
So next time you need to plan a conference, don’t despair. Make your life easier and put your event in the hands of a dedicated venue like SilverBirch Conference Centre or Saint John Port, fly into an airport that aims to please, like Saint John Airport, or consider the convenience and small-town charm of Grand Falls-Windsor. •