Thursday, February 4 - Panel Discussion #1

9:45am - 10:30am
9am to 9:45am

Thursday, February 4 - Panel Discussion #2

“Post-pandemic Festival & Event Trend Forecasting 2021 and beyond”

Session Description: In November 2020, Ontario’s Network of Municipal Event Planners (NMEP) undertook a post-season survey of independent and municipal event organizers, to gather specific data outlining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and identify priorities and changes that are evolving in Ontario’s outdoor community events sector.

This session will present the findings of NMEP’s post-season survey, and identify from the survey data, a selection of emerging industry trends and potential focus areas for event organizers to prioritize through their event recovery efforts.

Topics examined in the data and emerging trend discussions will include:

  • Decisions, processes and structures that led to short-term festival and event pandemic response

  • Opportunities, advantages, challenges and obstacles related to festival and event modifications

  • Factors and considerations influencing individual festival and event recovery in 2021 and beyond

  • Potential emerging trends and priorities for event organizers to consider when planning short and long-term event recovery (i.e. skills development, staff training, revenue opportunities, and stakeholder engagement)

Speaker Bio: Rebecca Cotter is an established event production and strategy professional, and post-secondary event management instructor. Her experience includes the production and delivery of large-scale festivals and community events in both the public and private sectors, municipal event strategy development, and the development of and instruction in several post-secondary event management courses. Rebecca is an Executive Team member of the Ontario Network of Municipal Event Planners (NMEP).

Rebecca Cotter

Ontario Network of Municipal Event Planners (NMEP)


Thursday, February 4 - Panel Discussion #3

Working with your Municipal Partners – Tactical Responses for Post-Pandemic Events

Session Description: Panelists present and discuss specific tactical changes, new developments, new processes, new requirements, that their municipality/agency has implemented/is implementing for event organizers, resulting from the pandemic and public health impacts on community events.

Event organizers learn from the work being done by the panelists/in the panelist’s municipalities, that is likely to inform changes to the way all events, regardless of geography, are planned, and requirements in other jurisdictions. Attendees take away knowledge of these new developments/changes, to be better prepared to have discussions with their municipality about future requirements for their events.

Speaker Bios:


Alyson Monery is the Recreation Coordinator of Events, Community Development and Volunteers with the Town of Caledon. She has worked in recreation for over 30 years with the Town of Caledon, City of Brampton.  She strives to make an impact in her community through inclusion and finding creative ways for residents to stay active.  Kindness, energy and enthusiasm are her tools to being a recreationist, nothing gives her greater pleasure then making people smile and engaging residents in community activities. Alyson is also a culinary arts guru and loves to sew and spend time in the garden.

Sarah Linfoot-Fusina is a Cultural Projects Specialist at the City of Hamilton. She has led the work of Hamilton’s Special Events Advisory Team (S.E.A.T.) since 2014. S.E.A.T. helps facilitate over 400 events annually. Sarah has been a member of the host committees for the Canadian Country Music Awards and the Grey Cup, in addition to the 2018 FEO Conference which was hosted in Hamilton. Sarah is passionate about breaking down barriers and assisting Hamilton’s event community navigate city processes. Sarah is a life-long Hamiltonian. She lives in Hamilton’s east end, next to Hamilton’s ‘Central Park’  with her partner and two children.


Jeannie Maidens is the Special Event Coordinator for the Municipality of Port Hope, with an educational background in public relations and tourism marketing. She is passionate about destination development and believes events have the power to greatly enrich communities. Creative collaboration is Jeannie’s ethos. She uses her skills to facilitate and produce community engagement opportunities in Port Hope. Jeannie currently sits on the executive board of the Municipal Network of Event Planners, and Program Advisory Committees at both Loyalist and Durham College. She loves to travel and attend live music events, but during these days of lockdown, you will find her practicing piano, plotting out her spring garden and snapping food photos for her Instagram handle @endlessly_riffable.

10:30am - 11:15am

Hyper Local - Working Together To Get People Out And Engaged In Your Area

Session Description: Hyperlocal marketing is the process of targeting prospective customers in a highly specific, geographically restricted area, sometimes just a few blocks or streets, often with the intention of targeting people conducting “near me” searches on their mobile device.

Join the discussions as leaders with RTO’s, DMO’s and Destination Ontario speak to how to get people back together when it is safe to do so. How we can all work together to recreate the New Normal.

Speaker Bios:


Minto Schneider CEO of the Waterloo Region Tourism Marketing Corporation. She joined the organization in 2013. Minto has a strong background in the tourism business. She began her career with Hilton International in Vancouver after graduating from the Hotel program at BCIT. After a few moves with Hilton in Sales and Marketing positions – from Vancouver to Saint John, N.B., Toronto and Halifax, she left the hotel business to join Tourism Nova Scotia. She spent over a decade with the Provincial Marketing Organization before trying her hand as a tour operator and moving south of the border to Westport, Connecticut where she joined Tauck World Discovery as a Product Manager initially and eventually moving to sales.

Maria Fortunato has over 18 years working in a variety of Destination Management Organization capacities and is the founding Executive Director of Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association.   Maria has diverse non-profit sector experiences gained in her work with several non-profit organizations and municipality settings.  She has gained extensive experiences in tourism business development, marketing, event management, volunteer management, community relations, program development, donor recognition programs, partnership  and fund development.


Chuck Thibeault has been active in the tourism industry for the past 25 years. He began his career out of university at an indoor playground for children and then became a partner at Putting Edge which owned and operated Glow-in-the-Dark mini golf courses. After selling his shares in this venture, he joined Ontario Place as Director of Sales. Leveraging his expertise in sales, he then worked as Director of Sales and Membership at the Royal Ontario Museum. He joined Central Counties Tourism as Executive Director, September 2012 and is also a partner in GlowZone 360 which currently owns and operates two family entertainment centres – one in Brampton and one in Mississauga.  Chuck sat on the Board of Directors of Attractions Ontario for 13 years, TIAO for five years and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Destination Markham Corporation.

David MacLachlan David is the current Executive Director for Destination Northern Ontario, the provincially funded regional tourism organization operating in Region 13 with a mandate to increase tourism receipts through product development, marketing, workforce development and investment attraction. David grew up in the tourism industry and is third generation to work in the family tourism business started over sixty years ago by his grandfather.  David is also a past chair of the Algoma Kinniwabi Travel Association, OTMPC Northern Tourism Marketing Committee and sat on the Board of Directors for OTMPC.


Melanie Robert is the VP and CMO for Destination Ontario, where she is leading the organization’s Marketing, Strategy and Insights Team, including the key functions of Marketing, Technology, Insights and Creative Services.

Melanie joined the Ontario Government in 2005 and prior to joining Destination Ontario she worked in a variety of progressive communications and marketing positions at Cabinet Office, Government of Ontario.  Before joining the Ontario government, Melanie worked for a series of non-profit organizations and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.