On February 10th, the CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Network hosted the 31st Annual Tête-à-Tête tradeshow in a virtual format. With 18 sponsors, 920 registered delegates, 60 exhibitor tables and 205 business partners, the event was a tremendous success!
Discussions began in the fall with the Specials Events Committee to determine if Tête-à-Tête would take place in 2021. Many ideas were tossed around including a socially-distanced, appointment-based, face-to-face tradeshow in Ottawa. With restrictions changing on a daily basis, trying to make such an event a reality was going to prove problematic. Do we proceed with a virtual event? How do we transform a traditional tradeshow into a virtual environment? How do we offer value to our business members? What will entice an executive member to give us their time? Do we take a year off and come back strong in 2022? These were all the questions at play. After much discussion, deliberation and the strength of Tête-à-Tête’s thirty-year track record, it was decided to move forward with a virtual format.
Planning for this virtual format began later than hoped but the event quickly took shape with the help and guidance of Danielle Lamothe and the CSAE team. The format of the day would remain similar to its traditional format with opening and closing speakers. A panel discussion was introduced over the lunch session and the traditional tradeshow was replaced with roundtable discussions in the morning and afternoon. Business members were invited to sponsor a table and lead thought-provoking and expert-led discussions about key industries, trends and issues.
The virtual event was hosted in both the Pheedloop and Remo platforms. Pheedloop hosted the keynote speakers while Remo hosted the roundtable discussions, allowing attendees to circulate from table to table over seven 15-minute time slots.
A lot was learned in the planning and execution of a virtual Tête-à-Tête. Feedback provided by both business members and executive members celebrated the success of the day and shared ideas to improve the experience. There is a year to plan for Tête-à-Tête 2022 and we all hope to meet in person in Ottawa once again!
Angela Jefferies is Sales Director, Canada & International Congress for Destination Toronto: the official destination marketing organization for Toronto’s tourism industry. Angela is the Past Chair of the CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Network Council and currently leads the Special Events Committee. In her free time, you’ll find Angela alpine skiing, cycling or simply enjoying the great outdoors with her husky. Connect with Angela on LinkedIn.