The City of Kimberley subsidizes the Kimberley Conference and Athlete Training Centre to the tune of $140,000 per year.
That’s a pretty substantial amount of money, says Mayor Don McCormick, although municipal subsidies of conference centres are the norm.
“Conference centres do not make money,” he said. “They are there to drive people into accommodations and bring people to town, and keep them there for a few days.”
However there are certain types of bookings that are more desirable than others. For instance, a wedding is a booking for an evening but a conference for several days brings far more revenue into town.
“We are looking for conferences with groups of at least 250 staying at least four days,” McCormick said. “250 people in town visit restaurants, spend money. These type of events spend more than weddings.”
Just that type of conference will be in Kimberley this week, when the BC Community Futures Annual Meeting will be held at the conference centre. The meeting is expected to bring upwards of 250 people to town for several days, and time has been blocked off for guests to enjoy Kimberley’s golf courses and tourist amenities.
To seek out that type of business, an independent sales contractor has been hired by the Kimberley Conference and Athlete Training Centre.
Remuneration for the contractor will come directly out of the City’s contribution to Tourism Kimberley, not the conference centre budget.
A conference accommodation booking system has also been developed.
As part of the conference accommodation booking service accommodators are charged 20 per cent commission. This service revenue has generated an incremental $20,000 in conference centre revenue since collection began on accommodations booked since January 2015.
“The 20 per cent commission on rooms from the accommodators will go directly to the subsidy,” McCormick said. “We’ve hired the salesman to drive these large conference sales. If we don’t do this we will have to subsidize even more.”