Interview with Drew Fisher, President & CEO of RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg
Meeting and event planners will likely already be familiar with the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, Canada’s fourth-largest publicly owned convention centre. This 264,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space – including the new South Building addition – is the city’s premiere event destination.
Just this year, longtime convention centre president & CEO Klaus Lahr announced his well-earned retirement. Filling Klaus’ shoes is no small task, but a longtime industry veteran has thrown his hat in the ring and is already making an impact. Drew Fisher, who has worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for 30 years, has been in the role since March 2018.
Meetings Winnipeg sat down with Drew to learn about his new position, and share some tips and advice for hosting your next meeting or convention in Winnipeg.
How are you settling into your new role at the RBC Convention Centre?
The transition into my new role has been a wonderful experience. The RBC Convention Centre has an incredible team, and a strong culture of service. Additionally, the facility is impeccably maintained, and the expanded centre is spectacular.
Having worked in the hotel industry until recently, are you bringing a new twist to your current position?
I would not necessarily call anything I am a bringing a “new twist”. However, having worked in the luxury hotel industry for 25 years, with many of those properties housing significant conference space, I have been able to witness the evolution of the catering/meetings/event offering in this environment.
I believe this experience will be of support to the RBC Convention Centre’s continued efforts aimed at elevating the client/event experience, so that Winnipeg is the location of choice for national and international associations, events, and meetings.
What’s the first thing you tell people hosting a meeting or convention in Winnipeg? Any tips for hosting a successful convention?
There is a difference when holding a meeting or convention in Winnipeg. When you hold a 800 person convention here compared to a larger metropolis like Toronto, the entire community of tourism partners pull out all the stops and collectively work together to ensure a successful event.
Personally, I recommend talking to the locals to see what they recommend doing and visiting while in the city. I would also take advantage of the all complimentary services through Tourism Winnipeg, as well as the wealth of information and marketing material they provide in order to help build event attendance.
Are you noticing any emerging trends in meetings & conventions?
Like everywhere else, technology enhancements continue to play a significant role at meetings and conventions. Delegates are used to dedicated and intuitive apps that encourage social media sharing and interaction. With the free Wi-Fi we provide throughout our entire building as well as free charging stations, delegates are able to stay connected and interact the entire time they are here.
Experiential offerings to make conventions as interactive and engaging as possible are also trending. Offering unique offsite tours and visiting local attractions are becoming increasingly important. Luckily, Winnipeg has many suppliers who can offer these services.
What’s your recommendation for someone when they’re looking for a place to go after a long day of meetings at the RBC Convention Centre?
There is so much to offer in downtown Winnipeg that is within walking distance, or a short ride away. The Forks has something for everyone and is a nice walk. The Exchange District, Corydon and Osborne areas offer unique local dining experiences. Winnipeg has such a culturally diverse dining scene that it’s difficult to suggest just one.
In addition, Winnipeg has a vibrant arts, culture, and entertainment scene along with a significant number of incredible museums. It doesn’t matter what time of the year, there is something for everyone to experience.