New Convention Centers Are Pivoting Toward Trade Shows Over Consumer Events

26 March 2018

Many destinations are prioritizing pharmaceutical and medical conventions over consumer shows. Consumer auto, boat, and travel shows are some of the highlights of the year for some destinations. But consumer shows can draw mostly local crowds that might not spend as much as thousands of business travelers in town for conventions, meetings, and client events.

The Miami Beach Convention Center, which is currently hosting smaller groups but will fully reopen in late September, is one example of a renovated convention center with a tourism board working to reposition it. The convention center opened in 1957 and apart from a renovation and expansion in 1989, the building increasingly couldn’t accommodate larger groups and the technological needs that large convention centers often can.

Nearly 500,000 square feet of exhibit space of the building’s total 1.4 million square feet was renovated as part of the $620 million project. The expansion includes a 60,000 square foot ballroom and smaller 20,000 square foot glass rooftop junior ballroom.

Conventions hosting 4,000 to 5,000 attendees will be the building’s sweet spot when it’s fully operational later this year, said Rolando Aedo, chief operating officer of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Many tourism boards have a primary goal is to book more convention center business as they seek to drive economic development in their locales, while leisure travel marketing is viewed as a secondary responsibility.

Citywide conventions that guarantee a certain number of room nights at nearby hotels will also be prioritized. Miami Beach has plenty of hotels suited for business travelers, but the city wants a property directly next to and part of the convention center. “We still need a convention center hotel, we almost had one but voters rejected it last year and we’re trying to get it back on the ballot,” said Aedo.

“Every event planner knows how important it is to have an anchor hotel or hotel connected to a convention center and by not having that hotel, we’re still at a disadvantage compared to other destinations,” said Aedo. “We’re talking to residents and local stakeholders to educate them on the benefits that a convention center hotel will bring.”

Aedo argues that one of the benefits of a convention center hotel, and shifting focus to more citywide conventions, is that business travelers tend to take more public transportation and taxis while leisure travelers and locals attending consumer shows rent or use their own cars and cause traffic.

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Source  :Skift