FDFA will continue own stand-alone convention, announces three year run in Toronto

FDFA logoThe Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA) has announced it will continue to run its own stand-alone convention for the next three years at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, while pledging to update the format to add more value.

Next March the IAADFS and ASUTIL will integrate their two annual events into one joint Summit of the Americas, and the FDFA was considering the best way for it to participate, as well.

During its FDFA Operator Semi-Annual Meeting in Mississauga, Ontario at the end of May, Blue Water Bridge Duty Free’s Tania Lee presented theStrategic Convention Committee’s proposal for a newly created FDFA Convention format beginning in 2018.

The Canadian land border duty free association says the newly developed format will “adhere to the Committee’s mandate to add more value to each and every member at our conventions with considerations of more cost savings, better quality convention meetings, increased time efficiencies, better operator/owner unity and increased quality networking opportunities.”

This presentation was received and approved by the operator membership in a unanimous agreement that this is the right approach for its industry and membership.

Tania Lee

Tania Lee

Tania Lee tells TMI that the FDFA board created the Strategic Convention Committee with a mandate,  To evaluate and assess the current convention format and recommend to the board strategic changes to maximize value to both operator and supplier members analysis.

“We underwent a vigorous process where we analysed every aspect of our traditional convention format, surveyed our membership, scrutinized metrics and examined other convention formats and locations.  The results were then compiled into a list of key priorities for our membership which determined the layout and direction of our new convention,” says Lee.


The Key findings of the analysis were:

*Major city location is key to both operators and suppliers

*Cost and time spent on the convention are also key priorities

*Maintaining Canadian identity is important to the membership

*Meetings in a suite format versus on a convention floor is preferred by both parties

*Business development platforms where operators and suppliers work cooperatively and share best business practices is important to all parties

*Networking opportunities throughout the convention are important


“The convention committee felt that a new convention format located in Toronto best met the above priorities for our membership,” she added.

FDFA Executive Director Laurie Karson told TMI that part of the Committee’s analysis looked at joining the FDFA’s forces with ASUTIL and IAADFS for the convention.

“But we have decided to continue at least through 2020 in Canada with our own specific duty free convention,” she said. “Having said that, we definitely want to sup-port ASUTIL and IAADFS. We are not sure what their future combined convention will look like in terms of the agenda and working panels, but we want to identify synergies and certainly support them going forward.”

Karson notes that the Strategic Convention Committee – made up of FDFA President Abe Taqtaq (Windsor Tunnel Duty Free), Simon Resch (Emerson Duty Free), Allison Boucher and herself — went through a very thorough process before reaching their decision.

“We did a lot of telephone interviews, identifying what works at our conventions, and what didn’t. What came through clearly is that five days is very long. We have come up with a new convention format that will be announced later. It will have more time and cost efficiencies, a better, more luxurious property, and more networking events that will provide good opportunities for people to collaborate.

“There will also be more opportunities for suppliers to present to groups. It is a really exciting prog-ram and it was well received by the operators,” said Karson.

“The King Edward Hotel is a beautiful property and Toronto is the #1 conference center now in North America, so we are very pleased to have secured a three year deal with them. This facility just completed $40 million in renovations and is the perfect size for our group.”

Karson said that staying in Toronto was an important consideration because as many as 55% of the FDFA suppliers are in this region, so the location will save money on shipping and logistics. “We are looking to be more cost effective and add more value,” she stressed.

The 2017 Convention will still be held this November in Montreal under the FDFA’s historical format, says Karson. “We really want to celebrate Quebec and the culture, especially since Montreal is celebrating its 375th anniversary. The theme is “joy of life” and we will have a French type gala, French décor, French food. It should be very nice.”