B.C. brand could be biggest TED conference winner

Retail also set to benefit with conference guests predicted to make high-end purchases
Dave Gazely, Tourism Vancouver’s vice-president of meeting and convention sales: the biggest bang Vancouver will get from the 2014 TED Conference is a boost to its brand

The biggest benefit to B.C.’s economy from New York-based TED Conferences LLC’s recent announcement that it’s moving its two main annual conferences to B.C. will likely be a boost to the province’s brand in the global marketplace rather than direct visitor spending.

“Associating Vancouver and Canada with the TED brand was the real reason we went after getting the conference,” said Dave Gazely, who is Tourism Vancouver’s vice-president of meeting and convention sales.

“Direct visitor spending will be modest.”

He expects the 2,000 visitors to the 30th annual TED Conference to pump more than $3 million in direct spending into the Vancouver economy during their stay March 17 through 21, 2014.

The same formula would see the 700 visitors to the concurrent TEDActive Conference in Whistler inject more than $1 million into the resort’s economy.

“TED’s decision is an affirmation of Vancouver as a destination,” Gazely said. “Other conference organizers will say, ‘Hey, the TED guys want to be there so we think Vancouver will also be a good spot for our convention. It will give our conference some innovative thinking, some edge, to be in the same location that TED would choose.’”

But direct spending from TED attendees could be far higher than the average daily spending that Tourism Vancouver estimates would normally come from convention visitors from the U.S.

Delegates to the Vancouver conference will have to ante up $7,500 for the three-and-a-half day affair. Those attending the smaller and less formal Whistler TEDActive event, which will have a live feed to the main Vancouver conference, will be charged $3,750 each.

Those well-heeled attendees will undoubtedly provide a revenue boost to the hotel, restaurant and taxi sectors. They’re also likely to sink money into purchases at nearby high-end retailers such as those on Alberni and Robson streets.

“They pride themselves on spontaneity, innovation and creativity,” Gazely said. “They may take helicopters somewhere.”

B.C.’s economy could also get a bump if conference chatter turns to new technology being spearheaded by a Vancouver firm. Gazely said that enterprise might suddenly get a visit from a handful of conference attendees.

Event organizers could find a business opportunity in arrang ing a peripheral event that appeals to conference attendees.

TED visitors might also suddenly decide to book an entire restaurant to enable a group from the conference to continue discussions in private, Gazely said.

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is the host hotel for all of the TEDActive events and will offer conference guests packages for room rates, spokeswoman Jennifer Tice told Business in Vancouver.

She said Fairmont’s Vancouver hotels will likely do the same.

As for shopping, she added, “There aren’t a lot of name-brand, high-end stores in Whistler, but there are many stores that carry high-end lines within their stores. So there will be lots of opportunities for shopping.” •

The many faces of TED: How the conferences are structured

TED Conferences LLC has various conferences that use the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) name.

Its marquee conference is its 29-year-old, spring TED Conference, which is moving from its longtime location in Long Beach, California, to come to Vancouver for at least two years starting in 2014.

The TEDActive Conference, which is moving to Whistler from Palm Springs, California, is held concurrent to the main TED conference.

The TEDGlobal event, held annually in Edinburgh, Scotland, is not being moved to Canada.

Conference-goers to the smaller TEDActive Conference can watch a live feed of the TED Conference and enjoy special TEDActive events.

There is also likely to be interaction among the TEDActive attendees as they watch the live feed of the TED Conference.

Delegate fees at TEDActive will rise to $3,750 in 2014 from $2,500 this year in Palm Springs. The main 2014 TED Conference, in contrast, will cost twice as much for attendees, who also need to fill out an application form that outlines their goals and accomplishments. Applications for the 2014 conference in Vancouver are expected to be submitted by March 1, 2013.

Meanwhile, TEDx events are organized around the world by groups that TED Conferences LLC authorizes to use its brand. Upcoming TEDx events in Vancouver include an invite-only TEDxYouth event on February 28 and a public event March 16 at Robson Square, for which tickets are $100.

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