By Glenn Bowie

Regional Director Sales and Marketing – Canada

Glenn Bowie
Glenn Bowie (left)  with HISF President Peter Van Praagh

Last week we wrapped up the 10th annual Halifax International Security Forum, a prestigious event that brings together more than 300 defense secretaries, security ministers and academics from as many as 90 countries to advance strategic cooperation among the world’s democracies.

It’s a big deal.

First, it is truly an honor to host and care for the men and women who have dedicated their lives to providing for the safety of our planet.  Our guests literally carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, so we’re pretty serious about doing everything we can to make sure they get a good night’s sleep.  Cranky generals are not good for the world’s well-being.

To the city of Halifax and the province of Nova Scotia, HISF is big business – 21 private jets in and out of our airport – 1900 guest rooms over six hotels, a lobster banquet for 360 people, dine around parties in 21 different restaurants.  In Toronto or Vancouver, these kinds of events sometimes go on without the special recognition they deserve, but not so much in Halifax.  That’s why we’re particularly proud to be the chosen host.

And why did the founders select Halifax 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, our Defense Minister Peter MacKay observed that he was always travelling to other countries for summits such as these and thought it would be nice to stay home occasionally.  Seeing a business opportunity for his home province and being a hospitable man of the Maritimes, he said – how ‘bout if you come to my place?

Sometimes it’s that simple.

But you don’t keep that kind of business for 10 years straight without doing something right, and here’s where Halifax really shines.

Halifax itself is cosmopolitan enough to be interesting and small enough to be manageable.  Motorcades don’t get caught in traffic jams, and there’s always good food, good music, cultural events and more to keep delegates and their guests occupied during their spare time.  We know we’ve got a good thing going and we’re eager to share it.

But most importantly, we appreciate the business.  By nature, we’re friendly, welcoming people, but we NEVER take for granted that this event will be back next year.  We treat every forum like it’s the first. We sweat the details and work as a citywide team.  We bring every bit of can-do and creativity to the job, and even after 10 years and having gained a certain level of confidence and expertise, there’s no ‘been there, done that’ ho hum. We let them know we are proud and thankful to have them here.

I think that’s what makes us special, not just here at the Westin Nova Scotian, but throughout the Maritimes, and it’s a reminder for every hotelier.

The shine of your chandeliers and the thread count of your sheets mean little compared to genuine warmth and hospitality.  Show that appreciation to every guest, not just the ones with 10 million Twitter followers, big bank accounts or yes even bomb codes, and you’ll earn a friend for years.