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Clark Grue, president and chief executive officer of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre.

Clark Grue, president and chief executive officer of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre.

Shannon Sutherland-Smith
Postmedia Content Works

Now is the time to understand how the world perceives Calgary, leverage the community to give the people what they want, and leave them wanting more.

A great experience at a convention can inspire people to return to do business, vacation or even set up a permanent residence. But to deliver a great experience you have to know what the visitors are looking for and then aspire and commit to meet and exceed those expectations, says Calgary TELUS Convention Centre president and chief executive officer Clark Grue.

“Canada is small on the global stage and Calgary is smaller, but that does not mean we are unattractive,” he says. “People want to come here to experience our unique setting, hospitality and business community.”

The Calgary TELUS Convention Centre in the heart of the downtown offers 122,000 square feet of dedicated convention space, more than 47,000 square feet of exhibit space, 36 meeting rooms, a ballroom and five pre-function areas.

It is a significant contributor to Calgary’s economy and recently celebrated its 40th year in business.

However, maintaining the status quo is not on Grue’s agenda.

“We have developed a new strategic plan to guide the organization moving forward,” he says of the five-point strategy that includes:

  • Increasing the convention centre’s international reach;
  • Creating a community hub at the centre;
  • Improving the client experience;
  • Developing new lines of business;
  • Growing the convention centre’s economic impact.

“We will do this by rejuvenating the current convention centre through art, technology, food and space, while focusing on clients both in Calgary and internationally,” says Grue

As a hub for local, national and international conventions, congresses, meetings and events, the centre needs to be an accurate reflection of the heart and soul of the city, so revitalization in these areas is instrumental to maintain relevance.

Each year, more than 250,000 people visit the convention centre as well as nearby shops, restaurants, businesses and attractions.

The facilities currently connect to three four-star hotels — the Hyatt Regency Calgary, the Fairmont Palliser Calgary and the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel.

Grue says that it’s critical to have the required infrastructure to host the world.

“We have to invest and promote the city in new ways in order to bring
people, businesses, entrepreneurs and technology to
Calgary,” he says.

The convention centre employs a large sales team to promote Calgary to the world. About two dozen marketers are telling the world about what the city has to offer, he says.

“Every day we are pitching Calgary in multiple ways to bring groups of people here,” he says.

A Calgary delegation just returned from IMEX Frankfurt, a major international tradeshow, where they showcased and sold Calgary to meeting professionals looking to book and organize worldwide meeting, events and conferences.

“Team Calgary — CTCC, Meetings & Conventions Calgary and the Calgary Stampede — worked together to present the value of Calgary to over 100 event planners who could bring tens of thousands of people to Calgary in the next five years,” says Grue.

Playing host to international events brings people into the city and creates international investment connections. Leveraging those opportunities, however, is going to require stakeholders to all pull together.

“This is all about partnerships,” says Grue. “Organizations that have facilities to welcome and host visitors, like the convention centre, the Calgary Stampede, the Calgary Flames, WinSport, the airport, hotels and many others, need to partner closely. This is not a heavy lift. We all want to
elevate Calgary, and we will.”


This feature was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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