Toronto Convention: Innovating in Hard Times

Costs have been cut. Page count is down. Morale could be better. How do we do more than survive?

This is the focus of the annual convention in Toronto. The shakeup of the past two years has, in many ways, given alt-weeklies the chance of a lifetime — an opportunity for rebirth and reinvention. This July, in one of the most beautiful cities in North America, industry leaders, big-picture thinkers and plenty of your smart peers will be explaining how to create a blueprint for financial success. You’ll learn how to focus and rededicate your company to thrive for the next decades and longer.

Whether the discussion is about the iPad or the changing nature of our audiences, the real promise of mobile advertising or offline community building, the question of whether AAN should admit digital only publications to learning about resources that can help stretch your edit budget, we’ve assembled programming that will push the conversation — and the industry — forward.

But conventions are about much more than programming. Beyond the informal barstool conversations and dinner-table brainstorms you’re bound to have, the folks at host paper NOW are busy creating three nights of breathtaking events to help you come down after days filled with packed information sessions. And yes, folks, they’re going to get you close to the lake. (Look for the exciting details on the trifecta of fun on soon.)

OK, I’m Sold. What Do I Need to Do to Sign Up?

The early registration deadline for this summer’s AAN Convention in Toronto is Friday, June 25. Rates will increase by $50 per person after that date. For AAN members, the fourth registration from individual papers is free once you purchase three.

In addition, the cut-off date for the special AAN hotel rate at the Hilton Toronto is Monday, June 21. The block of rooms we’ve reserved is filling up, so make your reservation soon. (The group rate includes web access in your room).

AAN has selected Air Canada as the official convention airline. The airline offers discounts on selects fares in and out of Toronto (enter CXJWMYY1 on the booking page). Keep in mind that fares sometimes go down closer to the travel date, so if you had checked earlier and got sticker shock, try again. You just might find something better. Also keep in mind that Air Canada doesn’t always charge to check the first bag, as so many other airlines do.

Another alternative for Americans is to find a cheap fare into Buffalo. From there you can take a bus or rent a car for the 90-mile trip. (Both Coach Canada and Megabus offer service from Buffalo Airport to downtown Toronto, where the bus terminal is about 10 minutes by foot from the hotel.)

Please remember: U.S. citizens need the proper documentation to re-enter the U.S. Make sure you’ve got the right document (passport or passport card) — and that it has not expired.

And if you have a criminal record, even a DUI, you should check to see if extra steps are necessary for your entry into Canada (click here for more info).