The Convention Center Conundrum in Montreal

TradeShow Exhibition Conference or Congrs – it’s here.

The Montreal Convention Center, officially known as the Palais des congrs, was the subject of a fact-filled article in the Montreal Gazette Business Section today. The article was headlined ‘The Palais Paradox’. Mostly the article was good news since the expansion of the Palais is proving to be an excellent venue for major conventions.

Montreal Convention Center

As the CEO, Paul Saint-Jacques, says on the website:

As the number-one city in Canada for international meetings, Montral has always been synonymous with attendance records and success. Thanks to its rich culture, the warmth and hospitality of its residents, and a local infrastructure where organizations work in synergy to deliver superior quality services, Montral is a destination where staging a convention, exhibition, meeting or gala becomes a memorable and enriching experience. The Palais des congrs de Montral has everything you need to make your event an unqualified success.

The only fly in the ointment or Paradox is that as greater success is achieved, the government subsidy necessary for the operation of the Palais rises in tandem. The substantial spin-off benefits to the tourism industry in Montreal amply justify this subsidy. There is a comparison with the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which makes a profit, but that Centre has more revenue streams available. However in general the Convention Center business is seeing increased competition and reduced demand so it is a very challenging environment.

The one worrying feature in the article was a note that US bookings for 2007 are 12% lower than they should be at this time. The 9/11 attacks have caused a pullback in American conventioneers coming to Montreal. It is hoped that this will return to normal and perhaps prebookings for 2010 are confirming this.


One question that may be asked is whether Montreal is sufficiently on the radar screens for US convention planners. Suppose you are a US convention planner and you’re doing some preliminary brainstorming. You do a Google search for ‘convention center’ to stimulate your ideas. Here are the results you obtain:

Google search for ‘convention center’
1. MTCC – metro toronto convention centre
2. Washington Convention Center
3. San Diego Convention Center
4. Moscone Center
5. Los Angeles Convention Center
6. The Baltimore Convention Center
7. Oregon Convention Center
8. Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
9. Pennsylvania Convention Center
10. Minneapolis Convention Center

So Toronto is certainly on your radar screen. That’s quite a feat since the first 25 apart from Toronto are all in the USA. Indeed you wouldn’t know it but Montreal is not even within the first 1000 for this search.

Center or Centre – don’t let that put you off track.

Perhaps you feel that part of the problem is that the US spells it Center and the Canadian spelling is Centre. A Google search for ‘convention centre’ again has some surprises. Here are the first 10:

Google search for ‘convention centre’
1. MTCC – metro toronto convention centre
2. MTCC – metro toronto convention centre
3. Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre
4. Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre
5. Washington Convention Center
6. Calgary TELUS Convention Centre
7. Los Angeles Convention Center
8. Mississauga Convention Centre
9. London Convention Centre – London, Ontario, Canada
10. Winnipeg Convention Centre

Montreal is 30th on this search falling below several convention centres in Australia and New Zealand. Looking more intensively into the Google results one reason for this is that Google only finds the words ‘convention centre’ in links pointing to the Palais website rather than in the website itself.

Search engine visibility is only part of what is needed in Internet Marketing. However appearing high in a search for ‘convention center’ can only help in boosting those US conventions booking in to Montreal.

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Related Books:
For information on interesting Montreal places to visit, see
Frommer’s Montreal & Quebec City 2009 Guide (Frommer’s Complete)
or
Montreal & Quebec City For Dummies (Dummies Travel)