I started my long trek to the annual CanSPEP conference in Newfoundland in northern Alberta. I then zigzagged to Vancouver, stopped for 20 hours, re-packed my suitcase and headed east. Not only was I going for a great educational experience, I was going to see some of my best friends who just happen to be veteran event planners like me!
The flight from Vancouver to Toronto was good, but when I reached Toronto, I found out that my flight was delayed by 7 hours. For someone who had not slept properly for 3 nights, this was not good.
I finally arrived in St. Johns Newfoundland 8 hours late and left my cell phone on the plane. Grrrr!!! Add another hour of waiting to get my phone back and then I was off in the fog in the pouring rain in the dark. Wow! What a start to this highly anticipated conference in Eastern Canada. A taste of endurance already!
I had lunch with Heather Lockwood and this is always such a treat. We have been friends for many years and she is such a wonderful person and so well liked in the industry.
Also joining us was Julia O’Grady (she is kissing the cod above) who I follow on LinkedIn, but have never met before. It was so nice to chat with these two amazing women.
The next 4 days were phenomenal entertainment, networking and education. And the food…it was so good! In order to keep this blog post short, I have decided to highlight 2 wins from each day. This was the view from my hotel room.
Day 1 – Tuesday August 01, 2023
Today is a light day, as most people were arriving from all places. Some even came from the USA. Many people experienced the kind of delays I had encountered. Registration was from 1pm – 6pm, followed by a supplier reception and plated dinner.
2 Wins For The Day!
- The Supplier Reception was fantastic and offered us a chance to meet national suppliers in a ‘speed dating’ environment. Many suppliers had useful giveaways and offered a draw prize. I really liked the flow of the event.
- During our plated dinner, we were entertained by Spirit of Newfoundland Productions Inc. who are fantastic! If you do not know who they are or have never seen them before, check them out. It was the perfect way to start the conference.
Day 2 – Wednesday, August 02, 2023
The first official day of education, fun, and started with a hot breakfast, which was much appreciated. I liked the way the conference organizers balanced fun with education on this day.
2 Wins For The Day!
- I loved all of the sessions on this day, but two sessions were impactful for me. Heather Reid’s Event Contracts – What’s New, What’s Changed and What’s Missing was so good. She delved into venue contracts and gave us plenty of good tips for our back pockets. And Julia O’Grady’s moving presentation Time Is A Limited Resource; balancing Mental Health and Productivity gave us a fresh insight on how to take care of ourselves as we run our businesses. Make yourself a priority was her message and I needed to hear this!
- When we visited the Supplier Showcase Reception on Day 1, each supplier had provided us with a phrase. We were broken into teams upon registering and now each team was tasked with creating lyrics for a folk song. We attended a Jigs Dinner at the YellowBelly Public House & Brewery where all teams performed our Grammy worth songs. It was such fun for both the judges and the performers. Let me tell you, CanSPEP members are super creative!
Day 3 – Thursday, August 03, 2023
We started our day off at the Delta Hotels by Marriott St. John’s Conference Centre and migrated to The Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland and ended up at the Alt Hotel It was a physical day but one of my favourites.
2 Wins For The Day!
- In order to move us from the Delta to the Sheraton, McCarthy’s Party Ltd. created a fun-filled Bingo/Scavenger Hunt. We were finding landmarks, taking photos and filling out our bingo cards all at the same time. I would highly recommend this for any event where you want to move people in a fun, team-building destination experience.
- The Awards Gala called ‘The Extravaganza’ was held at the Alt Hotel. The view of the river was gorgeous, the food was outstanding and honouring and recognizing our peers is so important, given that CanSPEP is a volunteer-run association. I wanted to congratulate BettyAnneSherrer, Sue Mercer and Nalina Williams for their awards.
Day 4 – Friday, August 04, 2023
Friday was a travelling day for some attendees, which was a shame, as they missed the closing speakers, which were fantastic! Two very different points of view, but so equally important.
2 Wins For The Day!
- Who isn’t stoked about AI in the event industry? I think we all are, but are somewhat reserved and cautious about using it. Malcolm White shared his presentation AI and the Art of the Impossible where he shared a step-by-step process in creating AI Art. It was a bit scary when he showed us images of people’s faces that were created by AI and these people do not even exist. Yikes!
- An excellent way to end the conference was with a heartfelt, raw message from John Steele Steele Hotels about The Entrepreneurial Journey. I truly appreciated how John spoke from the heart about the difficulties of being an entrepreneur. It takes a special kind of person to be an entrepreneur and he recommends that you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with and I whole-heartedly agree.
I wanted to give a special thank out to Nancy Bradshaw and Paul Bugge at Destination St. John’s for providing the hospitality suite throughout the four days. It was stocked with all sorts of goodies and offered an informal spot for us to gather in our down time.
The 2024 CanSPEP conference is at Inn at Lauren Point Victoria, BC in June 2024. Because this is in my backyard, I put my hand up to help in any way I can. So mark your calendars, book your time off and come see us in BC in 2024. It will be so worth it!