November/December 2015

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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10 | Ignitemag.ca | November | December 2015 Laura Bickle, Editor laura@ignitemag.ca @LauraIgnite When the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair opens its doors November 6 at Exhibition Place in Toronto, it will have a new champion: CEO Charlie Johnstone. Formerly the president of the Honda Indy Toronto and the owner of a hugely successful marketing firm, Johnstone is very excited yet humbled to take on this new gig. "It's one of the most iconic events in the country. I've never seen an event that has such emotional ties to its attendees." Johnstone says he's been drawn to the industry since organizing events as school council president. "There is nothing like a live event to create a connection," he says, adding that staging successful events is more than what happens on site. "It's creating anticipation leading up to it, delivering excitement at the event itself and engaging attendees afterward. The experience lives on in social media and in the stories attendees tell their friends and families." FAIR-minded This approach is important, he says, because "there is so much competition for exposure." So what is his secret to success? He vets every decision—and encour- ages his team to do the same—with the question: "How does this enhance the experience for the customer com- ing in the door?" The attendee focus is key, he says, because "you only get sponsors if you get customers." And speaking of sponsors, he says, they need to be like- minded and offer value to the consumer. Having joined the Royal just a few months before it opens, Johnstone sees himself as "the new guy," focused on soaking up all he can to prepare a strategic plan for the future. That said, he does intend to attract new demo- graphics, particularly millennials. "I'm not sure they know our story and it's very relevant to today's concerns: food, agriculture, lifestyle and farm-to-table cuisine." In the meantime, he will be encouraging his staff and 500 volunteers to take care of each other, a tenet he has encouraged throughout his career. "You have to be set up to succeed from a physical and mental perspective. You have to eat and hydrate properly—you can't make it through a 10-day event if you don't, and one irritable person can take the whole team down." For many, the Royal is the harbinger of the holiday. So from everyone here at Ignite, here's wishing you the best of the season. Charlie Johnstone laura's logic Learn more about this issue in our digital issue ignitemag.ca

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