Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
Best Wishes to All in 2021!
From the Board of Directors & Staff of Brandon First
Looking back at 2020
It’s no surprise that 2020 has been a difficult year for the events industry. Ours was the first industry to close, and will be one of the last to reopen. Under normal circumstances our year end newsletter would feature all the amazing and fun events Brandon hosted, but this year will undoubtedly take a bit different tone.
Before the Covid shut down, our year had been full of travel and meetings, and now we are working to plan for the post-pandemic events world. March to August was full of cancellations and postponements in every area from meetings and conferences to the Manitoba Winter and Summer Fairs, Food Truck Wars, Ag Ex and more. We would like to encourage everyone to take a moment to contribute to the #SaveTheFairs campaign. Organizations like the Provincial Exhibition that put on Brandon’s best events are struggling because of the pandemic, and anything we can do to help them weather this storm and be here to put on events after it’s over will be so important in the coming months.
On the positive side, our staff reached some exciting milestones this year as Pam Reiss, Regional Sales Coordinator for the Winnipeg region celebrated her first anniversary with the organization in July and Sara Girard, Regional Sales Coordinator for Westman celebrated her first year with us in September. Development Coordinator Jenn Watson, who joined our team in 2015, celebrated her fifth “Brandon-First-iversary” in November. The team has spent this last year really building our cohesion and deepening our bond as colleagues, and all three of us are looking forward to what the next phase of our work with Brandon First will bring.
In January, Pam joined almost 800 fellow event professionals from Western Canada as they gathered in Edmonton at GO WEST 2020. Over three days, the attendees were treated to presentations by some of the industry’s top leaders, participated in educational and entertaining break-out sessions, learned about the newest things happening in the Canadian events industry during the experiential tradeshow and had lots of opportunities to meet with peers from the Western provinces. In February, Pam attended Crop Connect in Winnipeg. She spent two days with farmers and agricultural professionals from across the province, attending interesting educational sessions, meeting with many attendees on the tradeshow-floor and enjoying excellent keynote speakers.
Sara assisted with the Winnipeg Blue Bomber’s Grey Cup tour stop in Brandon. Seeing so many fans get the chance to see the Grey Cup was a real thrill for our team! Brandon First hosted a business mixer with the Grey Cup in partnership with the Brandon Chamber. We also ran a Grey Cup social media contest which was very well received with lots of excitement from the community. We were very happy to gain over 160 awesome new followers from the contest, and have started #MeetUsMondays online to help teach all those newcomers what it is we do and who we are. We went to Ag Days and made some incredible connections with associations and left with beneficial event leads for the future. In addition, Brandon Curling Club hosted the Provincial Mixed Doubles Championship in February. It was so great to see lots of spectators come out to watch and support the local teams that were playing!
Brandon First has been keeping our fingers on the pulse of the events and tourism industry by attending all available and relevant webinars and virtual conferences locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. We’ve worked to expand our social media reach, using the slowdown due to the pandemic as an opportunity to build our presence and content. Our campaigns have included introduction to our staff, board members and stakeholders, as well as highlighting interesting businesses and locations around Brandon. One of our most popular campaigns has been sharing fun and interesting tidbits about Brandon in our #FunFactFriday.
In September, Brandon First sponsored the first in a new Speaker Series put on by the Brandon Chamber of Commerce; Jenn and Sara had the honour of talking about Brandon’s event history and current hosting landscape and then were able to be in attendance while Chamber President Spencer Day discussed current events with our city’s Mayor, the Honourable Rick Chrest. If you’d like to watch a video of the event you can see it here or watch below!
During the summer, Jenn and Sara visited multiple tourist locations and event venues to both familiarize ourselves with the great spaces this city has to offer, and to take fun photos for our “Where Are We Wednesday” campaign; in this we took close up macro photos of interesting items and had our social media followers guess where we were! We hit every corner of the city, visiting the Green Spot and Crows General Store at the East End Experience, the Riverbank Discovery Centre and Alberts on the North Hill, TBirds at the south end and more! We also did a museum circuit, stopping at the Brandon Museum and General Archives, the Daly House Museum and the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum and a Downtown walking tour! Scroll through the pics below or check out our full photo album here, and plan to visit some of these great stops yourself in the next few months.
Fourth quarter of 2020 has given the team an opportunity to revise our five year event recruitment strategy, and staff has spent most of December determining potential events to recruit, making valuable contacts with provincial, national, and international events right holders and working to play our part in Brandon’s post-pandemic economic recovery by bringing events back to Brandon the moment it’s safe to do so.
With vaccines and potential event hosting on the horizon for 2021 we at Brandon First are happy to put this year of cancellations behind us, and start building for the future of the event hosting industry in Brandon. 2021 will be a year of change and adaptation as we examine what it means to host events in a new event hosting landscape. Keep your eyes on our social media as we start to roll out our new plan, and start adding great events to the Brandon First calendar for late 2021 and beyond!
Wishing A Happy Retirement to One of Our Longest Serving Board Members
In December of this year, Charlene Harris, General Manager of the Canad Inns Destination Centre Brandon, announced that she would be retiring, and thus also leaving the Brandon First Board of Directors. Charlene joined the board in 2008 and served in many roles including serving on the stakeholder committee and on the executive committee as our Secretary/Treasurer. Charlene will be absolutely missed around the board table and we wish her all the greatest happiness in her retirement.