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Come for the day or stay a few more! London is the logical conference destination. Located at the crossroads of highways 401, 402 and 403 - the major links connecting Michigan, Toronto, and the Niagara Falls regions - London is less than a day's drive from more than 150 million people in American and Canadian urban centers. Add excellent air access with new connections, both domestic and international, at the expanded London International Airport, and it's easy to see why London is the first choice for many event planners.
"I have hosted three conferences in London (for different associations)," says Ken Cousineau, Executive Director of the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association. "The city is easy to access and there is no lack of activities and state-of-the-art facilities. The biggest benefit is that you are really the main event. Not only did we have control of the convention centre, but by using the adjacent hotels, we didn't have to spread out all over the city. There are fewer costs and great access for everyone."
In the summer of 2005, London hosted some 6,000 delegates from the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada. Comprised mostly of university teaching faculty, but also including private, government and voluntary sector members plus a large number of graduate students at the doctoral level, they spent eight or nine days in London and area.
Paul Ledwell, executive director of the federation, says, "We chose London since, in addition to the University of Western Ontario being a leading Canadian university with obvious strengths in our fields, there is an evident beauty of both the campus and the city. As well, we appreciated the strong collaboration that exists between Tourism London and the university. London offers easy access, not only to the majority of our members who attend from Ontario and Quebec, but also the approximately 15% who require international access."
Indeed, air access to London is growing by leaps and bounds. A record 415,000 passengers were linked from London International Airport to the world in 2006, a 12 per cent increase over the previous year and 38 per cent over the last two years. Carriers serving London include Air Canada Jazz, WestJet, Northwest and Sunwing Airlines, with direct flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg and Detroit as well as Caribbean sun destinations.
Though it's a city of approximately 350,000 people, London boasts comparatively low traffic. Fifteen minutes - that's all it takes to get from city core to the places that count.
As a Tier-II convention/market, London's room rates are markedly lower than Tier-I markets such as Toronto or Montreal. According to the PKF 2006 National Market Report, London's average room rate was $100.17 a night versus nearby Toronto's at $167.16.
London has some 3,300 rooms at 38 different properties ranging from intimate retreats like Windermere Manor and Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre to world-recognized affiliations like Delta London Armouries, Hilton London, Marriott Residence Inn, and Four Points Sheraton. A further 2,200 dormitory rooms are available at the University of Western Ontario. Major conference facilities include the London Convention Centre, the Hilton London, the Four Points Sheraton conference centre and the Best Western Lamplighter Inn, with banquet capacities of 1,750, 1,000, 600 and 520 respectively.
Karen Elliott, Co-Chair, 2006 IMPAC Conference Committee, says it best: "London Tourism exceeded all of our expectations when hosting the November 2006 Independent Meeting Planners Association of Canada conference. Our delegates were able to explore the many leisure options London has to offer during the Great London Challenge - Road Rally. The level of service we received from all suppliers was second to none and our London conference was rated one of the best in our history."
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