Spotlight on core review: Nanaimo conference centre needs support to flourish

NANAIMO – Core review designates conference centre as best use of the property but highlighted lack of collaborative marketing as drawback.

Vancouver Island Conference Centre management is looking for a team-approach to marketing Nanaimo as a conference destination.

“If you inherit a child, or adopt a child, under your governance … if you demotivate it and/or not give it the opportunity to accelerate, what happens to that child?” asked Denise Tacon, general manager of the conference centre. “In the same context, if we don’t shout out loud at how great a facility we have, at how wonderful a community we have, the opportunities that are here for tourism and the destination itself and all the growth potential, then essentially we aren’t doing anything but the status quo.

“We aren’t reaching out and being collaborative enough to go to the next level with this entire region.”

Nanaimo’s core services review, released in May, saw the Vancouver Island Conference Centre as the best use of the property, but not before highlighting issues and factors affecting the viability of the eight-year-old facility, including the lack of a collaborative destination plan.

The report referenced this year’s market feasibility study by CBRE Hotels, which raised the issue of a lack of a collaborative destination plan between Tourism Nanaimo, the conference centre and partner hotels. It said if one was implemented and there was an adjoining 150-room hotel, the conference centre would attract 4,000 more delegates and generate more overnight stays in the city. The core review considers the plan the most critical element in the success of the conference centre.

John Hankins, chief executive officer of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, previously told the News Bulletin that a third-party had been hired for 18 months to promote meeting and conventions, but that ended in April because results weren’t what was hoped for and a new strategy is in the works.

Tacon said on a yearly basis, there is talk about trade shows being attended and whether they cross over on destination, tourism or conventions and meetings so resources can be shared, but because of the cycle of leaders there’s been an up and down, lack of consistency.

“We are not gaining momentum because the plans are not always finished or finalized,” she said.

The lack of a consistent, team approach to marketing, “leaves us guessing what if,” she said of possibilities.

“If we could bring the players together that are actively affected and/or truly engaged with what needs to happen with the conference centre and we can find a developer to be part of a development process for hotel rooms, I think that we could essentially move this and the optics to a conference centre to the next level in a positive way,” she said. “Until there is everybody able to contribute that and be in the same sandbox then we are kind of doing the best that we can.”

Tacon said markets are actively pursued and there’s been a slow but sure climb in revenue and delegate days, from 19,000 delegate days to 23,000 last year and a projected 25,000 for this year.

The core services review report up for public discussion and feedback at an e-town hall meeting on Monday (Sept. 12). To read more about the conference centre, please see the report on the city’s website at

Just Posted

Nanaimo author B.S. Thompson has released his debut novel, ‘The Book of Nodd.’ (Photo courtesy Nora Funk)
Nanaimo author invites readers into dangerous world of dreams in debut novel

B.S. Thompson unveils ‘The Book of Nodd’ with online launch June 20

Potters Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter present their joint exhibit ‘Dig It’ at Art 10 Gallery until the end of June. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Potters show pieces for home and garden at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter’s show ‘Dig It’ on display until end of June

Construction work continues on the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (News Bulletin file)
Next phase of borrowing approved as Nanaimo fire hall construction ongoing

City of Nanaimo CAO says construction on Fitzwilliam Street hall on schedule and budget

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read