TED conference finds a new home in Vancouver

By , on March 19, 2014


Photo: Facebook Page of TED

After five years in Long Beach, California, TED conference moves to Vancouver—dates to mark on your calendars, March 17 to 21.

On these days, 1,200 of the brightest minds in the world will gather again to share life-changing lessons. For 30 years now—TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, has been touching lives of people around the globe.

And now that it has found a new home in Vancouver, numerous innovations are to be expected.

TED’s shift to Vancouver

It was in 2013 when TED expressed its intention to leave Long Beach—the same year, it knocked on the door of the tourism commission and Tourism Vancouver.

Negotiations for a minimum two-year deal were kept private—Mayor Gregor Robertson was not even consulted.

As part of the deal, the Vancouver Destination Hotels Association, the tourism commission and Tourism Vancouver agreed to underwrite part of the cost of relocating TED, including helping with the specially designed stages.

“What we paid them was to partner with them. And what we got was that we can call ourselves TED host country and TED host city,” Greg Klassen, the senior vice-president of marketing for the tourism commission said.

“We’ve stamped that on all of our collateral, so that when we are international markets trying bring in conventions and meetings to Canada we start by saying ‘we are the ones who brought TED to Canada. If we can do TED, the world’s coolest conference, we can do your conference,” Klassen added.


TED Preparations

To fit into the standards set by the conference organizers, the Vancouver Convention Centre was transformed into a cozy, incubation chamber—similar to what Long Beach provided for the past five years.

The 227-metre aerial piece of art by Janet Echelman, titled Skies Painted With Unnumbered Sparks was also installed in front of the convention centre. It will be lit on Saturday night.

Undoubtedly, the construction is well advanced—massive amphitheatre was designed by New York architect David Rockwell.

Chris Anderson, TED’s curator, got the inspiration of designing an all-wood stage and seating from Vancouver architect Michael Green’s TED talk.

All the preparations will be completed on Sunday.

A simulcast version called TEDActive will operate in Whistler.

There are also many firsts in this year’s TED conference. Firstly, TED will provide a free live broadcast of its talks to schools, universities, community centres and libraries. Secondly, it is feeding a jumbotron screen on the outside of BC Place at Terry Fox Plaza.

TED attendees

Venture capitalists, philanthropists, scientists, architects, engineers and professionals—these are the folks who are most likely paying $7,500 for a TED ticket.

The Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism Vancouver estimate that conference attendees will bring more than $4.5 million into the Vancouver economy.

TED’s impact on Vancouver’s economy and tourism

Surely, the TED conference will bring huge revenues to Vancouver, but the Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism Vancouver don’t want to measure the event’s success solely on it.

“What our theory is that when these world billionaires, philanthropists, engineers and scientists come and see Canada, they will have a very warm view of what it offers as a business community,” said Klassen explained.

“Yes, we have at the minimum two years, with 1,200 delegates a year eating at restaurants and staying in our hotels,” Klassen said. “But to call that an economic impact on our country and city based purely on the investment they will make next week is too trite. It is the long-term impact we are looking at.”

Meanwhile, Rick Antonson, Tourism Vancouver’s president, said bringing TED to Vancouver is about more than direct spending in the local economy.

“A gathering like this becomes a profound catalyst. There is a really interesting social alloy at play here. Much, much good can come out of it,” he said. “Trying to measure it with a simple cash register ring is wrong. This is about social, technological and entertainment change.”

With Reports from Vancouver Sun and Straight