February March 2019

A fresh resource for people who plan and manage meetings, events, business travel, promotions and incentive programs. Providing you with inspiration, guidance and great ideas.

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Page 34 of 75

Making the most of a chartered plane experience by Sandra Eagle Take Off Eh! Check out the VIPlane Experience: Scan the QR code on page 32 or visit ignitemag.ca. I t started—as many good ideas do— during a hallway conversation at a con- ference. Candace Schierling, director of national conventions & event mar- keting at Tourism Saskatoon, and Reggie Lang, manager, business development—groups and conventions of Calgary-based WestJet, were mus- ing about getting planners to the PCMA Canadian Innovation Conference, being held in Victoria last November. "Why don't we charter a plane?" mused Schierling—and with WestJet on board, plans for the first VIPlane Experience started to rev up. Bettyanne Sherrer, CMP, CMM, principal of ProPlan Conferences & Events, based in Toronto, was tapped for planning, logistics and creative sponsorship formulas for hosted planners. Sherrer says she learned a lot about airplane logistics planning the VIPlane. "We needed to restrict the number of passengers onboard in order to accommodate the food and drinks we wanted to serve each person. We also wanted our hosted plan- ners to have a seamless, totally branded experience from the time they got to Pearson to Victoria, and I think we accomplished that." From a welcoming lounge set up at the gate in Toronto, to sponsors taking a star turn on the plane's PA system, the five-hour flight literally flew by. There are various reasons for a planner to charter a jet. Heidi Baillie-David, CMP, operations manager for Meridican Incentive Consultants based in Markham Ont., says, "we will charter a jet if regularly scheduled service is not available to a destination we are going to or if there is not enough lift to a destina- tion to accommodate a group." Lang says WestJet only offers charter ser- vice to bases that the airline currently services and can guarantee a plane three months in advance. He adds, "cost is all dependent on the type of aircraft and the locations it is going and the time of year." The event allowed hosts to buy seats for planners, sponsor meals or drinks and gifts. Sherrer also enlisted a "planery speaker," Jennifer Spear, president of Clean Slate Strategies, based in Toronto, who creatively uti- lized the aircraft safety message as the basis for an interac- tive talk on how to prepare for emergencies. At the moment when the plane was flying over Saskatoon (one of the spon- sors), flight attendants showed passengers how to unwrap a gift package from iconic jewellery designer Hillberg & Berk, based in Regina. When the charter landed in Victoria, the final touch point was that planners received their room keys to the Fairmont Empress Hotel on the transfer into the city. Lynne Gale, CMM, director of conventions for Tourism London in Ontario, was one of the first sponsors to get onboard, and thought it was one of the most out-of-the-box sponsor- ships she had ever seen, adding "it was epic, every moment was packed." February | March 2019 | Ignitemag.ca | 35 Welcoming swag on board the VIPlane. From left: Reggie Lang, Bettyanne Sherrer, Candace Schierling and Jennifer Spear at the VIPlane lounge.

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