Are You Excited for the Pan Am Games in Mississauga?

 

Are you excited for the upcoming Pan Am games?

According to a recent insauga.com poll, a whopping 78 per cent of our audience is either unhappy about or entirely indifferent to the under-hyped and over-criticized games. The athletic event, scheduled to kick off in Toronto on July 10, has been a point of contention due to the much-maligned and restrictive temporary HOV lanes on major roads and highways and lack of excitement among locals.

The Games are distressingly undersold. Of the 1.4 million tickets available, less than half have been purchased and, according to a recent Canadian Press story, Toronto hoteliers are dealing with unexpected vacancies (many were expecting full houses) and scrambling to lower rates or switch advertising tactics to attract tourists.

Although the Games are being held in Toronto, the Hershey Centre (which will be known as the Mississauga Sports Centre during the event) will host Pan Am and Parapan Am competitions every day. In fact, if you're interested in combat comps such as karate, judo, taekwondo, wrestling, wheelchair rugby and powerlifting, you'll be watching the spectacle unfold in the Sauga arena and you'll be purchasing your tickets at Square One.

Despite the Mississauga element -- which your friends and family might not even know about -- it seems that some Mississauga hoteliers were never expecting an uptick in visitor traffic. The Games, it seems, just aren't that big a deal anywhere.

"We're not fully booked for the Games," says Rochelle Daye, a supervisor at Alt Hotel. "I haven't seen much of an increase specifically for the Games."

Alt Hotel, located near Pearson Airport and close to the 427, would be an ideal spot for people looking to check out the Games because they'd be close to both the Toronto and Mississauga venues and have quick access to public transportation hubs and major highways. That said, Daye and her team were never expecting an increase in occupancy, so they aren't disappointed by seasonally average bookings.

"Overall, we're seeing the same flow of guests during our busy and non-busy months," she says. "We're not offering any [Games] packages specifically, but we have overnight packages with parking included and weekend packages with parking and $25 food vouchers. There was no [traffic increase] expectation among management because the Games are everywhere. It comes down to whether people want to stay inside or outside of the city."

It seems like they aren't beating a path to any hotel's doors, whether they're in Toronto or not.

We even called a few other major hotel chains, including Holiday Inn, and found that some have ample vacancies, despite the opening ceremony being a few days away.

So, why the indifference?

It might have a little to do with distinctly negative marketing that focuses on traffic rather than spectacle. In the lead-up to the games, emphasis was placed on the controversial HOV lanes. Highway signs beseeched people to abandon their vehicles and car pool or take public transport in an effort to ease the inevitable onslaught of apocalyptic traffic.

Anyone who uses social media has likely been told 1.6 million times that they will be tortured and imprisoned (or fined, same difference) for using the lanes with less than three people in the car. All in all, the Games have been framed as a summer-destroying inconvenience wrought with gridlock and unjust traffic tickets. It's true that traffic increases (and the new and, yes, inconvenient rules that accompany it) are stressful, but they shouldn't be the sole focus of an athletic event.

That said, caterwauling about traffic isn't the only thing hurting marketing efforts.

According to a recent story in the Globe and Mail, the Games have been beset by slow-moving information (organizers did not know which countries would be competing against each other in matches or which athletes would be competing until quite late in the game) and a lack of prestige. The events are simply not on par with the Olympics and don't tend to attract the same caliber of publically recognizable athlete (not that it's a bad thing to give fresh new faces a chance to shine). 

It's hard for people in and outside of Toronto to get excited about an event they know little about other than its potential to impede traffic in and around the GTA. Mississauga can't get excited about local events that they don't even know about. Fortunately for some Sauga hoteliers, they aren't rushing to slash rates or tinker with packages because they were never expecting higher than usual occupancy to begin with and, in a city of almost one million people that is hosting Pan Am and Parapan Am events, that's a little disheartening.

That said, it's not too late to buy tickets for games and matches. Now that you know the Hershey Centre (sorry, Mississauga Sports Centre) is hosting events, you can find more info here.

As well Mississauga Transit is included with your Pan Am ticket the entire day of your event across all GTA transit services! Just show your ticket when you board.

Forget about the traffic (but stay out of those lanes if you're driving alone or with one other passenger) and check out a competition. Make the stress worth it by taking advantage of the opportunity to do something different. Support a lesser known athlete and maybe -- just maybe -- stay in a hotel because it's fun.

Summer is so short here. Don't let negative marketing spoil it. 

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