The Canadian Internet Marketing Conference brought together big city business and Squamish charm at the Railway Museum on Friday and Thursday last week.
Over 600 marketing professionals, many from the Vancouver area, attended the event to get insights from cutting-edge companies like Disney, Buzzfeed, Amazon and Uber.
“It was amazing to see the buzz and the energy in the room that comes from gathering those speakers and brands to talk about the future of work,” said Joel Hansen, co-director of the conference.
“From our team, it was really exciting to facility those discussions and hear stories, whether you’re from Amazon or Disney, but also the smaller testimonials from a craft brewery like Four Winds or a smaller company like Betterwith Ice Cream.”
The conference was sold last year by local agency Marwick Marketing to Surrey-based Agency Media. Hansen said the decision to keep the conference in Squamish was part of providing a unique experience outside the city.
VIP shuttles included Tesla and Sky Helicopters brought some glamour up the highway – with a reminder to pack their hiking boots for a Friday morning hike up the Chief.
A number of executives on stage focused on encouraging creativity and energy – but it was Squamish Nation educator Tsawaysia Spukwus (Alice Guss) and her daughter who had attendees dancing like eagles, orcas and wolves at 9 a.m. to open the sessions.
The theme of this year’s conference was making sense of the “digital marketing wilderness.” Scenic Squamish is a great place to explore that, according to Hansen.
“Keeping it in Squamish was a perfect fit for the brand,” he said.
“Rather than just an information-download, it was relationships explored, new ideas heard about and time to unplug from the busyness that is sometimes part of Vancouver.”
The speakers in the packed two-day event also included representatives from B.C.-based companies like Hootsuite, MEC, JJ Bean Coffee, Tentree, Four Winds Brewing and Westlund.
Technology around online marketing is constantly changing, and talks ranged from storytelling to data to customer service and corporate culture. Representatives from social media websites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram provided practical tips for reaching customers online.
Talks from the conference will eventually be uploaded and available for viewing at CIMC’s website.
Mayor Patricia Heintzman the hosting of CIMC proves that similar event can work locally, despite Squamish’s lack of large hotel conference facilities compared to Whistler or Harrison Hot Springs.
“It’s good to see that you can put on a conference of that size successfully in Squamish, tapping into all the hotels and utilizing off-site venues and making a good show of it,” she said. “It’s pretty easy to show off Squamish.”