I always enjoy visiting Toronto and attending CMX, and the visit was made even better by the record 80°F temperatures the city was experiencing. Bars and restaurants had their patios open, and people were even playing in the sand of the city’s beaches. Beats the heck out of the typical CMX weather, which runs anywhere from cold and rainy to near-blizzard snow conditions.
Toronto itself appears to be doing very well, and it’s great to be in a city with so many cranes in the air and a humming real estate market. The sheet metal and HVAC industry appears to be doing pretty good as well, based on the exhibitors and attendees I talked to. I hope that starts trickling down to the states soon.
A few quick observations:
-- Toronto residents like to jaywalk. Beyond just crossing against the light, pedestrians regularly cross the street wherever it is convenient. Drivers expect this, and many stop in the middle of the street or wave people across. Police appear to accept this as well, as more than once I saw municipal officers ignoring the jaywalkers near them. But don’t let a parking meter expire. The police are not so forgiving about that.
-- Toronto is expensive. Canada’s largest city has never been cheap, but the exchange rate used to make it a relative bargain for American tourists and business travelers. Maybe it still is for people from the United Kingdom or rest of Europe, but with the U.S. and Canadian dollar about equal in value – some days Canada’s loonie is worth a little more – a beer really does cost $6 to $7 and that 15 percent “harmonized” federal/provincial sales tax on almost everything really does sting.
-- Lastly, what’s up with the shunning of American Express card? As many retailers will tell you, Amex has long been known for charging higher merchant fees than MasterCard or Visa, but it is still a top card of business travelers around the world – even if Visa would like you to think otherwise.
But I had problems using my corporate-issued American Express at several restaurants, and not out-of-the way places, but ones in and near the convention center. Generally, it seemed only the largest restaurants would take it. I don’t recall that being as big of an issue in previous CMX trips. One employee even reminded me, nicely, that I wasn’t in America (Thanks!). Last time I looked, Amex was still a multinational company with a major presence in Canada.
Despite those quibbles, I enjoyed my visit. I posted some updates to Snips’ Twitter page last week as well several trade show pictures to our Facebook wall during my stay. Be sure to check them out, and look for the story in Snips soon.