How does Montréal win international conferences?

The Palais des congrès de Montréal unveils its winning formula, and you can be the secret component.

The favourable impacts of international events like scientific conferences and symposiums on the host city are many. Over and above the hotel room nights and tourism spending they generate, these gatherings are also a source of incalculable intellectual wealth and can accelerate promising fields of expertise. This is an area where Montréal and its Palais des congrès convention centre really stand above the rest, because we are the top host city in the Americas for international events, according to the International Meetings Statistics Report released in 2020.

With Montréal looking to preserve its title and the COVID-19 pandemic having affected the event industry, cooperation has become more crucial than ever if we are to expedite the recovery of business. Which is why the Palais des congrès de Montréal has chosen to share its winning business development formula, which rests on a key component: the involvement of influential men and women who are passionate about broadening the reach of their activity sector.

The process of winning an international event begins years in advance

At the Palais des congrès, the process of attracting a major event can start 5 or 6 years beforehand, with a multitude of partners taking part.

Pinpointing the opportunities

The first step consists of picking an event we wish to host in Montréal. At the Palais, our business intelligence unit watches for international associations and global corporations that rotate destinations for their event. Based on their expertise, we can determine whether an organization or corporation is planning to hold their event in North America, and if it’s a good enough fit to warrant Montréal submitting a bid.

Sometimes, opportunities come from Montréalers themselves, women and men who are deeply committed to their field of work, and who would love for their city to host their association’s or society’s conference. When they approach us with the idea, our business development team at the Palais eagerly assesses its feasibility and offers whatever support is needed for the coming steps.

Recruiting a local champion

The second step centres around abetting the bidding process, which means teaming up with an influential person ready and willing to get involved. The Palais generally identifies Montréalers within the international association, or a professional who is a leading figure in the field.

These individuals we designate as “local champions” serve as the Palais’ envoy in interactions with the international association, which is why their standing and reputation are so important. By ascertaining the main selection criteria and the various tendencies and leanings of the organization, they help the Palais put together a bid book that is both personalized and persuasive.

For example, thanks to their expertise, Prof. Catherine Morency and Prof. Martin Trépanier have helped the Palais team to confirm the hosting of the 16th World Conference on Transport Research, in Montreal, in the years to come.

Presenting the bid

Together, the Palais and Tourisme Montréal have forged a genuine expertise in selling Montréal as “the” host city for an event. The proposal is encapsulated in a bid book that is visually compelling and informative that features the city’s main qualities, the innovative services of its convention centre, but also Montréal’s expertise in the event’s activity sector.

This step involves real teamwork between the Palais, the local champion and the tourism partners. When you join the effort to secure an international event, you commit to sharing your knowledge of the local expertise, and in return, the Palais puts its sales and marketing might at your disposal by rolling out a wide range of effective tools aimed at supporting the bid.

Selecting the host city

Once the Montréal bid is submitted, the selection process varies from one organization to another. Sometimes, the business development team is asked to present the bid before an audience, other times, the city is required to mount a charm offensive to persuade the members of the selection committee when they’re in town as part of their tour of the cities being considered.

After the host city is announced, and hopefully Montréal will have won the bid, the local champion is named Ambassador of the Palais des congrès de Montréal and enjoys all of the benefits associated with his or her appointment. Of course, the Ambassador continues to receive the support of the Palais for the coming steps.

5 good reasons to get involved in bringing a conference to the city

Whether it’s through soliciting the help of the Palais in trying to attract an international event you’re interested in, or vice versa, i.e. having been approached by the Palais to become a local champion, the benefits of embarking on such an adventure are many:

1-Building your professional “brand”

Having your name tied to securing a conference for the city is a major feather in your resume’s cap. Not only is it recognition within your local community of peers, but the process is also an opportunity to shine on the global stage with international players in your field.

2-Advancing your field

Hosting a conference is highly beneficial for local stakeholders working in your field. It can lead to new international collaborations, help recruit experts from other countries, and foster new research fields.

3-Enjoying the Palais’ support

Throughout the process, you can count on the support of a solid team of professionals at the Palais. You will have experts shepherding you every step of the way.

4-ontributing to Montréal and Québec

The satisfaction of seeing your involvement materialize into the actual event is simply priceless. All of the benefits this type of event generates for Montréal and its vitality are a source of immense pride.

5-Growing an unparalleled business network

Being involved in the process allows you to see and experience the event from an entirely new angle, as it opens doors to meetings and opportunities you would likely not have enjoyed as a regular participant.

You could become a member of the Palais des congrès Ambassadors Club

In addition to the event itself, the bidding process also culminates into recognizing the local champion’s pro bono involvement with the Palais by appointing him or her to the prestigious Ambassadors Club.

A collective comprising nearly 350 well-known figures from the academic, scientific and business communities, the Club rewards the volunteer involvement of local champions turned Ambassadors through a program with wide-ranging benefits.

Each year, new Ambassadors are appointed at an event held in their honour. MTL Ambassadors will be presented in a virtual format this year, on May 13, and you’re invited. Registration is free, and online.

Will you be the next Palais Ambassador?
Interested in contributing to bringing a major event to Montréal? Contact the Palais team by email and avail yourself of their expertise and support.

About the author
The Palais des congrès de Montréal convention centre continues to respond proactively to the event hosting requirements prompted by COVID-19. A new leader in hybrid events, it houses various state-of-the-art studios as part of its Palais Média Propulsion service. Through PROGRESS, its Palais Reopening Operating Guide to Running Events with Safety Standards, the Palais is adhering to the new health standards ratified by the appropriate governmental authorities, at no additional cost to its customers.

The Palais stands in the heart of the top host city in the Americas for international events, as ranked in 2019 by the Union of International Associations. It is the recipient of the highest quality standards certification in the industry, awarded by the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC), and also a finalist for the prestigious Apex award honouring the “world’s best customer satisfaction ratings.” In 2019-2020, the Palais generated $228 million in economic benefits along with an invaluable amount of intellectual wealth via the 339 events it hosted. A trailblazer, it operates its own events lab, CITÉ, which houses Montréal startups that are helping redefine how conferences are held. The Palais is among the first convention centres in the world to operate a carbon neutral building, and is also BOMA BEST certified. Visit

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.

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