Toronto convention industry surging again, tourism board says

By Canada, Industry News, News, Tourism

Source: Toronto Star

Stronger world economy and a vibrant downtown contributed to spike in hotel bookings for meetings and conventions in 2014, says Tourism Toronto.

Delta Toronto Hotel. Photographer David Cooper / Toronto Star file photo

The end of the Great Recession and generous words from Vogue magazine are among the reasons that Toronto’s convention industry is booming again, after a swoon brought on by tough economic times, the city’s tourism agency says.

Almost half a million people booked a meeting or convention visit to Toronto in 2014, good for over 600,000 hotel room nights — the first time the city has cracked that threshold.

A resurgent world economy, top-flight hotels, and an increasingly vibrant downtown have all contributed to the convention sector’s growth, said Tourism Toronto spokesman Andrew Weir.

“As Toronto’s reputation and cachet grows — when you have Vogue magazine talking about Queen W. as one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the world — it increases the desirability of that destination,” Weir said.

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6 Ways Virtual Reality is Changing the World

By News

oculus riftIf you thought Facebook’s recent $2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift (a company that creates virtual reality headsets) seemed like a bizarre move, think again. While Oculus Rift originally developed their headsets for the purpose of gaming, people are starting to see the potential of immersive technology for so much more.

Of course, Facebook isn’t alone in its virtual vision of the future. Google released its much-hyped Google Glass this year, allowing users to make their smartphone an extension of their vision. Sony is also investing in virtual reality technology with the development Sony Morpheus—a slick looking competitor to the Oculus Rift.

So what exactly are the applications that these tech giants see in this technology? The following are 6 ways virtual reality is changing the world.


Let’s start with the obvious one: gaming. Virtual reality obviously has the potential to provide a pretty amazing gaming experience beyond what we get from those oh-so-addictive Wii Sports games. Forget controlling a soldier creeping into battle in Call of Duty—virtual reality allows you to be the soldier. And we’re not just talking about seeing through the eyes of your character; accessory technologies like multi-directional treadmills even allow you to run around (without going headfirst into your drywall). Accessories like gloves and vests could make the experience even more life-like by allowing you to feel what your character feels.

If you’re of the mindset that games in this format would simply be nausea-inducing, it doesn’t look like that will be the case. Early game testers of Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus seem to have positive outlooks and note that you can’t bash the technology until you try it. You really have to see it to believe it.

^Military Training

Aside from giving teenagers the rush of getting caught in the crossfire of virtual enemy troops, there are some very real military applications for virtual reality. The American military is already working with virtual reality for some of their training. Before virtual reality, combat situations were simply too difficult—or even dangerous—to recreate with accuracy. New technology like the Dismounted Soldier Training System (DSTS) uses virtual reality headsets to better prepare soldiers for real combat through simulated situations. Since soldiers are often trained far from the place of combat, the technology also allows different terrain to be simulated. By better preparing soldiers, this technology could literally save lives.

Mental Health

Virtual reality has the potential to provide a wide range of therapeutic benefits to those with mental health issues. One interesting application is the treatment of what is known as phantom pain suffered by those who have lost limbs. Many amputee victims experience this phenomenon, which causes them to feel pain radiating from a body part that is no longer there. By allowing phantom pain sufferers to visualize themselves using their lost limb, virtual reality treatment has been shown to provide relief in an engaging way.


Okay, here’s a weird one: virtual reality has even been proposed to improve the lives of farm animals. A project from Iowa State University professor Austin Stewart looked at the idea of using virtual reality goggles on chickens. By projecting images of green pastures to chickens, they would have the perception that they’re free-range, even if in reality they’re restricted to an indoor pen. As ridiculous as this sounds (and looks) it’s so crazy that it just might work. Forget the chickens though—we could use this at the office!

Medical Training

Here’s something you never want to hear your surgeon say: I’ve never done this one before! As with military training, there are some things a medical student simply cannot learn without being placed in a real environment. As everyone knows, practice makes perfect, and with virtual reality, simulations can be developed to train surgeons for complex surgery before performing on a live patient where the stakes are high.


With the advancement of audio-visual technology, even events are taking inspiration from virtual reality. Multi display technology allows event organizers to dazzle their guests with impactful presentations that take them on a journey.

Freeman Audio Visual’s own ImaginAction technology uses wide, multi-screen displays to encompass the peripheral vision of audiences and immerse them in presentations. Rich, extreme-resolution images add to the impact and sense of interactivity.

If you’re as fascinated by immersive technology as we are, why not use it at your next event? Contact us today to discuss how Freeman Audio Visual can make ImaginAction work for you!

Brent Beatty Appointed Director of Sales for Freeman Audio Visual Ottawa

By Freeman Audio Visual Employees, Industry News, News

Brent Beatty*La version française suit le message anglais.

Steven Bury, Vice President of Sales, Freeman Audio Visual Canada, is pleased to announce the appointment of Brent Beatty to Director of Sales for the company’s Ottawa branch, one of our largest and most successful operations.

“Brent Beatty is already familiar to many of our customers, especially in the national association sector,” said Bury. “He will play a key role as we deepen our existing client relationships and build new ones.”

Beatty brings with him 27 years of industry experience, covering audio visual, hospitality, and convention bureau sales. Coincidentally, he worked for Freeman Audio Visual as a Calgary Account Executive earlier in his career.

“I am thrilled to be associated with a company that embodies the highest levels of values and integrity,” said Beatty. “We have a talented staff of seasoned professionals in place at the Ottawa branch that I look forward to collaborating with. My ultimate goal is to add depth to the management of the overall operation through enthusiastic leadership and dedicated customer focus.”

Brent Beatty nommé directeur des ventes pour Freeman audiovisuel Ottawa

Steven Bury, vice-président des ventes chez Freeman audiovisuel Canada, est heureux d’annoncer la nomination de Brent Beatty au poste de directeur des ventes pour la succursale d’Ottawa, l’une de nos plus grandes et prospères divisions.

« Brent Beatty connait déjà plusieurs de nos clients, en particulier dans le secteur de l’association nationale », a déclaré Bury. « Il jouera un rôle clé dans le perfectionnement de nos relations avec nos clients existants ainsi qu’à la construction de nouvelles relations. »

Beatty apporte 27 années d’expérience dans l’industrie, incluant les ventes dans différentes sphères tels les congrès, le tourisme d’accueil et l’audiovisuel. Coïncidence, il a déjà travaillé pour Freeman audiovisuel en tant que gestionnaire de comptes à Calgary au début de sa carrière.

« Je suis très heureux de m’associer à une entreprise qui incarne les plus hauts niveaux de valeurs et d’intégrité, » a déclaré Beatty. « À la succursale d’Ottawa, nous avons une équipe de professionnels chevronnés et talentueux avec laquelle j’ai hâte de collaborer. Mon but ultime est d’approfondir la gestion de l’ensemble des opérations par l’enthousiasme et le dévouement aux besoins de la clientèle. »

Freeman Audio Visual Canada President Inducted into Meetings + Incentive Travel Hall of Fame

By Awards, Canada, Industry News, News, Press Releases

Freeman Audio Visual announces that Johanne Bélanger, president of the Canada division, will be inducted into Meetings + Incentive Travel’s (M+IT) 2014 Hall of Fame in the industry builder category.

Launched six years ago, M+IT‘s Hall of Fame program recognizes and celebrates individuals who have distinguished themselves in the Canadian meetings and incentive travel industry.

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Freeman Ranked As Largest Global Event Marketing Company by AdvertisingAge

By Freeman, Industry News, Interesting Articles, News

Chris Cavanaugh, President, FreemanXP

Freeman ranked as the largest global event-marketing company in AdvertisingAge’s ranking of the “World’s 50 Largest Agency Companies.” This annual ranking and analysis of advertising and marketing-services agencies includes companies in all marketing categories.

In the U.S., Freeman was listed among the largest Experiential/Event agencies, as well as Promotions agencies, ranking #2 in both categories.

“We are proud of the unique value proposition Freeman and FreemanXP are bringing to the experiential marketing category,” said Chris Cavanaugh, President of FreemanXP, a boutique experience marketing agency offering a full range of marketing solutions within the Freeman organization. “The relationships and superior customer service that Freeman has come to provide is of value to our clients anywhere around the globe.”

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By Corporate Social Responsibility, News, Press Releases


Freeman audiovisuel Canada est fière d’annoncer qu’elle a été désignée championne en réacheminement des déchets par REfficient. La liste Waste Diversion Championsreconnaît les entreprises qui ont atteint des niveaux impressionnants de réutilisation, d’achat, de revente et de recyclage de biens excédentaires.

REfficient est un cybermarché qui permet aux entreprises d’acheter au rabais des équipements de télécommunication et d’audiovisuel de qualité et provenant de sources durables.

« En tant que leader de l’industrie, nous sommes tenus à un niveau plus élevé de responsabilité sociale par nos employés, clients et partenaires. À ce titre, nous recherchons toujours des méthodes plus écologiques pour gérer tous les secteurs de notre entreprise, » mentionne Johanne Bélanger, Présidente de Freeman audiovisuel Canada. « La collaboration avec des organismes comme REfficient a permis à notre compagnie d’atteindre un niveau supérieur de réacheminement des déchets, un accomplissement exceptionnel dont notre entreprise est très fière. »

Le programme de champion en réacheminement des déchets a reconnu 29 entreprises ayant détourné au moins 1000 livres des sites d’enfouissement l’an dernier grâce à l’achat, la réutilisation, la revente ou le recyclage de leurs biens excédentaires. Avec trois niveaux de reconnaissance du programme, Freeman audiovisuel Canada s’est classé au rang supérieur, ce qui signifie qu’il a détourné entre 10 000 et 99 999 livres des sites d’enfouissement.

Stephanie McLarty, PDG de REfficient, déclare que cela démontre les valeurs interreliées des affaires et de l’environnement lorsque les entreprises agissent. « Il y a beaucoup de discussions sur l’environnement, mais pas toujours d’actions », explique-t-elle. « Nous reconnaissons les entreprises qui concrétisent leurs valeurs et en récoltent les fruits. »


By Corporate Social Responsibility, News, Press Releases


Freeman Audio Visual Canada is proud to announce it has made the REfficient Waste Diversion Champions list. The Waste Diversion Champions list recognizes companies that have reached impressive levels of reusing, buying, reselling and recycling surplus assets.

REfficient is an online marketplace that allows companies to buy quality telecom, A/V and IT equipment at significant discounts from sustainable sources.

“As industry leaders, we are held to a higher standard of corporate social responsibility by our employees, customers and partners. As such, we are always seeking greener methods in which to manage every area of our business,” said Johanne Bélanger, President, Freeman Audio Visual Canada. “Collaborating with organizations like REfficient has made it possible for our company to achieve this master level of waste diversion, an outstanding accomplishment our whole enterprise is extremely proud of.”

The Waste Diversion Champions program recognized 29 companies that have diverted at least 1000 pounds from landfills in the last year through buying, reusing, reselling or recycling their surplus assets. With three program recognition levels, Freeman Audio Visual Canada is included in the Master Level, which means it has diverted 10,000-99,999 lbs from landfills.

REfficient CEO Stephanie McLarty says this shows the interrelated business and environmental value when businesses take action. “There is a lot of talk about doing the right thing for the environment, but not always action,” she explained. “We recognize those companies that put their values into practice and reap the benefits.”

InfoComm Celebrates 75 Years With New Board & Major IT Sponsor

By InfoComm International, News

As InfoComm International’s board of directors settle into their new roles and planning for the 2014 InfoComm Show gets into full gear, the organization’s executive and members are also celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Established in 1939, InfoComm has grown from a small room of educational technologists into a 5,000-member-strong association that includes manufacturers, systems integrators, dealers and distributors, independent consultants, programmers, rental and staging companies, end users, and multimedia professionals from more than 80 countries.

Leading InfoComm into this milestone year is Board of Directors President Johanne Bélanger, who is also president of Canadian firm Freeman Audio Visual (formerly AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions). Bélanger, along with the rest of the 2014 InfoComm board of directors, assumed her new role on Jan. 1.

Bélanger, who has previously served as InfoComm’s secretary treasurer and president-elect, comments, “The past five years leading up to this commencement have given me the opportunity to gain much deeper insight into the composition and concerns of InfoComm International’s multifaceted global membership, while leading efforts to standardize practices as a representative of the rental and staging industry segment. I am honoured to step into the role of president and, with the support of my fellow board members, continue to enhance the quality and capacity of the association’s educational offerings, resources and events.”

As well, InfoComm has also announced that for the first time, Microsoft will be a platinum sponsor and occupy a significant exhibit at the 2014 InfoComm Show in Las Vegas, NV from June 18-20.

For more show information as it becomes available, go to For more association information, contact InfoComm International: 703-273-7200,

Article source: Professional Sound Magazine, February 2014