After all the excitement of 2017 which saw Ottawa at the epicentre of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, many hospitality-related businesses – including Shaw Centre – wondered if the national capital region would experience a post-party letdown. I’m pleased to say that we have risen to the challenge of keeping Ottawa on everyone’s radar, succeeding in attracting great events, conventions, corporate partnerships and international conferences to our city through 2019, 2020 and well beyond. Shaw Centre and Ottawa have made their presence known on the world stage and we will continue to fulfill our role as Canada’s Meeting Place.
Another challenge which we have embraced is motivating, supporting and equipping our colleagues in every facet of Shaw Centre’s operations to be the very best they can be. Making sure everyone brings their ‘A game’ every day is crucial in this highly competitive industry where it’s often the little things that make a big difference. As an example, thoughtful little touches dreamed up by our team which we were pleased to implement include offering female delegates free pashminas (in acknowledgement of the challenge in maintaining a meeting room temperature which is pleasing to all) as well as complimentary ballet flats (to address the challenge of being on one’s feet in high heels all day at an event).
Engaging our culinary team to develop innovative menus which comprise dishes both tasty and interesting has been a challenge our kitchen brigade has willingly embraced. They continue to push the envelope in terms of creativity and are steadfast in their commitment to minimize waste while supporting local growers and producers, two things that are very important to Shaw Centre.
A further challenge which we are continually addressing is the shifting nature of client requirements. Increasingly, event planners want unique, customizable layouts that facilitate networking. Theatre-style setups are becoming progressively more rare; we have responded with a number of flexible options such as campfire seating, recyclable cardboard ‘breakout pods’ and technology-driven ‘marketplace’ presentations, helping our guests use our diverse spaces to create memorable, engaging and effective events.
The success of our business comes from our continued attention to detail at every turn. This includes maintaining a clean and beautiful building and working in tandem with stakeholders to position Ottawa and the Centre as top choices when it comes to hosting. Challenging our clients to help us improve has been a key focus area for several years, since the establishment of our Customer Advisory Board in 2016. The board affords us a wonderful opportunity to engage in a whole new way with our clients, honing in on the wisdom and many years of experience of meeting planners from around the globe.
When the advisory board gathers together, senior management from Shaw Centre get to interact face-to-face with customer representatives from groups that hold events at the Centre, spanning some of our key market segments including local sales, corporations and associations. These representatives provide direct, constructive feedback which guides Shaw Centre in its best practices. The board meetings also offer an opportunity to identify and praise staff who have helped clients meet or exceed their event’s objectives. The board’s input continually challenges us to grow and improve as an organization.
We are eager to see what new challenges present themselves as we move forward but I remain fully confident that our team will, as always, embrace them as opportunities for innovation and success.