Q and A: How are CSAE Suppliers Engaging with Associations in the COVID-19 Era?

By Sherry Lucia
Tourism Product Development Specialist- Convention Sales
Tourism Hamilton

While COVID-19 has eliminated the majority of face-to-face business interactions, it has not eliminated the need for CSAE suppliers to engage with associations.  In fact, customer engagement has never been more important.  When this crisis is behind us, customers will remember the suppliers who satisfied their rational needs and those that met their emotional needs during a very rough time.  This will also offer a significant advantage when the economy reopens. Many people want to escape COVID-19 news and seek a new form of entertainment. CSAE suppliers all over Canada are eager to demonstrate and support their local communities by highlighting and showcasing their unique products and services in a safe environment.  The Tourism Hamilton team has been hosting light and fun virtual familiarization tours that highlight Hamilton’s nature trails, waterfalls and event spaces.

I asked some of our CSAE National supplier members to share their stories about how they are engaging with associations in the COVID-19 era. 

Nancy Bradshaw
Business Development Manager
Tourism Saskatoon

The team created The Saskatoon Smile campaign which included entertaining content that involved the local community, staff and their love of music.  The Back to School installment featured some oldie-but-goodie photos of staff on their first day of school.  It provided a laugh as they showed back to school fashion then and now.  The Saskatoon “We’ve Got This” project included a local radio personality and three local charities who designed a “We’ve Got This” t-shirt with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. It was a great way to bring a smile to those having a tough week, day or month. 

Shawnna Dickie-Garnhum
Meetings & Conventions Sales Manager
Discover Saint John

The Discover Saint John team have been inviting clients to virtually sample #SaintAwesome. They used social media videos to showcase some of their favourite local food and drink including a how-to on cracking a lobster, their favourite goodies from Ganong – Canada’s oldest chocolate factory, best local beverages from Moosehead and Yip Cider and, of course, the salty deliciousness of dulse (dried seaweed). They also mailed 75 clients “Brighten-Your-Day” packages which included local artist hand crafted gifts in an effort to keep that Saint John connection.  Once gift packages were delivered to everyone, virtual FAM calls were set up for each grouping.

Paul Bugge
Director of Sales
Destination St. John’s

To help boast client engagement Destination St. John’s demonstrated how they are supporting the association industry by staying connected with speaking at industry webinars and offering individual FAMs and sites for those planners that can visit them now and virtually for those that may not be as familiar with the destination.  Throughout these presentations they have been educating clients about their local “COVID -19 Safe Work Place” certification and “Clean It Right Program”.    They also used social media to articulate all the great things to see in St. John’s once it is safe to travel there.

Sherry Lucia is a graduate of The University of New Brunswick’s Bachelor of Applied Hospitality and Tourism Management Program.  She has been in the hospitality and tourism industry for 16 years and has been with Tourism Hamilton and a CSAE supplier member for 5 years.  She has sat on many volunteer committees for the Winter and Summer Summits and a contributor to the CSAE FORUM newsletter for two years.