Described as Toronto’s most significant and unique special events venue, The Carlu is a premium, multi-functional corporate, cultural, and social events facility. Situated at 444 Yonge St., this national historic site and architectural masterpiece based in the downtown core is perhaps best known as the former home of Eaton Corp., now completely restored to its former glory and grandeur.
This one-of-a-kind facility is a leading conference and convention centre that offers the best in sophistication and service for any event. In the heart of downtown Toronto, The Carlu is also accessible via the College subway station. The site is also close to King and Bay Streets, better known as Toronto’s Financial District, home to several major conglomerates of the corporate world.
“Although we are not just a central business district facility, we capture that market as well,” Mark Robert, Principal with The Carlu, told The Canadian Business Journal. “We are responsive to the needs of our clients.”
Capable of accommodating all major events and corporate styles, The Carlu offers an unparalleled experience of exceptional style and service. The venue includes a 1,200-seat concert hall, most famous for being the recording grounds of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. The theatre can accommodate gala dinners of up to 600 guests, doubled with additional balcony seating, or arranged in a standing format for cocktail parties with room for 1,500 guests.
“Charity events and galas are a big part of our business, as are corporate awards dinners,” Robert detailed. “Additionally, the fact that we are a special events venue and nothing else, whereas our main competitors have primary businesses that can accommodate secondary special events, is a real point of differentiation for us. The big thing for us is that we are all about special events. We are not a museum first and foremost. With the elaborate events that people look to host these days, especially in the high-end market, the fact that we don’t have restrictions or have to worry about exhibitions going on elsewhere in the facility all contributes to us being chosen over our competitors.”
The business model of The Carlu supports external event suppliers, which allows it to source the best available services in the marketplace, from the top local caterers to wait staff to the best in audio visual presentations. Robert summarized, “It is very easy to layer in or take out various suppliers, so that has been important."
After 10 years in business, The Carlu has captured a significant portion of the event marketing segment, where special events and conventions have become more definable within the corporate marketing budget, specifically as an effective tool geared toward client engagement.
“In our business, maintaining engagement is always a challenge,” Robert said. “Repeat business is an important part of our success. The number of events that we have had here over our 10 years is remarkable. It is also unusual in our business because events often bounce around to fresh venues.”
With an eye toward the future, The Carlu is focused on both its internal and external growth channels. More recently, the facility saw a bit of a dip from the economic downturn, but not a complete pull back where companies were not hosting events. Rather, clients opted for more scaled down receptions. On the charitable gala side of the business, the numbers have remained strong.
“When the economy turned, our brand recognition was so strong that the quality of our offering and the ease of doing business with us was so great that we still saw a great deal of business,” Robert concluded. “We are now exploring our growth opportunities. For example, we have such a famous concert hall and we would like to see it being used more as a concert hall. Earlier on in our operations, we saw more concerts here and we would like to see more of that happening. We could even produce our own events to fill up some of the dark nights with some of our own initiatives. We think that we have some great opportunities.”