Incentive Canada Raises the Bar

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An exclusive group of incentive buyers and representatives from across Canada gathered in St. John's, Newfoundland for Incentive Canada 2023.Meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Incentive Canada 2023 was a sustainable, eye-opening educational event showcasing all that Canada has to offer.

“Hi, I’m Dan,” said the man sitting next to me, offering a smile and a handshake. I was attending a group dinner sponsored by Destination St. John’s at  Incentive Canada 2023. This Destination Canada signature event brings together an exclusive group of incentive buyers to learn about incentive experiences across Canada, at sites across the country that rotate each year—this August in St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador. Where the nice man sitting next to me at dinner is Mayor Danny Breen.

The mayor’s friendly greeting reflects the warm welcome felt by all Incentive Canada attendees. Throughout the 3-day event, we were immersed in the singular vibe of laid back yet vibrant St. John’s. Here, we experienced the oldest street in North America, an Irish heritage of joie de vivre, yummy sea and farm-to-table food, gorgeous coastal scenery, outdoor adventures and more—always enlivened by the genuine hospitality of local hosts who quickly became new friends. As Destination Canada’s Director of Incentive Travel Jennifer Attersall aptly noted:  “St John’s has a feeling of belonging, of feeling like home.”

From Coastal Cuisine to Kayaking and From Foraging to Networking: Making Connections in St. John’s.

From quick check-ins at an event registration desk to a final evening of dinner and dancing at an iconic city pub, Destination Canada flowed smoothly. A robust, continually updated and easy-to-navigate app that included both a personal agenda and an event schedule eliminated the need for paper communications. We stayed at Alt Hotel St. John’s, a chic modern property overlooking the harbor and walkable to many of our activities. Walking whenever feasible within a 15-minute time frame was one of many sustainability initiatives at the carbon neutral event.

The program began on day 1 with an optional walking tour of 500-year-old St. John’s, known for its streets of colorful houses and lively, Irish-influenced entertainment district of pubs and restaurants. After a welcome reception at Alt’s waterfront patio, we headed across the street to Portage restaurant for the first of many delicious locally-sourced meals typical of the maritime region, often served family-style.

On day 2, attendees chose one of three outdoor adventures: foraging with chef, author and Ted Talk storyteller Lori McCarthy; kayaking the rugged coastline of Newfoundland and Labrador with local guide Stan Cook; or going on a zodiac ocean safari in beautiful Petty Harbour, where the entire group met up for lunch. I joined the kayak expedition, where we paddled pristine waters and got a first-hand lesson on how to catch and eat sea urchin. Dinner that evening was at the lovely Rooms museum in St. John’s.

During marketplace appointments on day 3, I learned about everything new and noteworthy for a vast array of incentive programs in Canadian destinations across the country. A mouthwatering lunch was served in 18th century Mallard Cottage, where celebrity head chef Todd Perrin (a Top Chef Canada contestant)  greeted the group. After lunch, attendees gathered at Quidi Vidi Brewery to brainstorm about incentive and sustainability trends with Jennifer Attersall, Stephanie Harris (president, IRF) and Lori McCarthy at an informal panel discussion. Our final pub dinner with live entertainment got the group up and dancing.

Destination Canada’s Incentive Canada winter program will be held in the breathtaking mountain destination of Banff and Lake Louise in January 2024.

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