In just seven months, the Board of Directors, SMG and the trade unions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center were able to book new shows that will generate more than $350 million in economic impact for the Philadelphia region.

“Our goal was to fulfill the promise of the Pennsylvania Convention Center as a regional economic driver for the countless local business in our hospitality industry and the tens of thousands of individuals they employ,” says Gregory J. Fox, Esq., chairman of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.

This year, the convention center will host the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis. It’s estimated that the papal visit will attract more than 1 million visitors from around the world. Other major events scheduled for the convention center include the 2015 BIO International Convention, American Association for Cancer Research, International Society for Technology in Education and the NAACP, plus regional events such as the Auto Show, Flower Show, Philadelphia Marathon and Comic Con.  

After customer feedback and decreased bookings, the PCCA board created a four-point plan to professionalize management operations, improve the center’s labor-supply mode, modernize work rules and ensure billing transparency for customers. One such event that helped to ensure the success of the plan was the hiring of West Conshohocken as the facility’s manager.

In accordance with the plan, new work rules and expanded exhibitor rights began in May. The changes instituted a core labor workforce and gave customers more independence and flexibility to put up their own booths, handle power tools, unpack personal vehicles and set up non-rented A/V equipment.

“We took a dedicated core workforce, added industry expertise, instilled best practices and refocused the team’s efforts on winning back customers,” says Lorenz Hassenstein of SMG at PCC. “These changes to the business model helped bring the center back to the forefront of the meetings and conventions industry.”

The four-point plan allowed the sales team of SMG, which deals with short-term sales of less than 18 months, and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, which books long-term meetings, to have greater success with customers.

“We can attribute the turnaround at the center and our future success to key partnerships like the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the hoteliers, SMG and the trade unions,” says John J. McNicol, PCCA president and CEO. “We have all worked together toward the common goal of supporting our 188,000 member regional hospitality community, and we look forward to an even greater economic impact in 2015.”

Atlantic City

Last year was the highest grossing ever for the United States commercial gaming industry.* Meeting planners who hold gatherings at casinos may just feel like they’ve hit the jackpot, too. Casino-based events provide one-stop convenience—the amenities of convention centers and bountiful hotel rooms, plus activities, dining, and nightlife. 

 

Doreen Guerin grew up an Air Force brat, living in Texas, Louisiana, and later England and France. When she was 13, her parents moved to Queens and, Guerin says, “I’m a New Yorker through and through.” That’s apparent from her accent as well as her dedication to the Javits Center, where, as the senior vice president of sales and marketing, she oversees the booking and event-related operations for more than 170 events each year. 

M+E: What fueled your interest in working in the conventions industry?

 

If you want to be sure your meeting in the Northeast will strengthen team bonds, consider holding it at Cliff House Maine. Nestled on 70 acres atop Bald Head Cliff on the southern coast of Maine, the luxury property offers 226 guest rooms, including 40 suites, an adjacent 18-hole golf course, and 25,000 square feet of conference and meeting space that can accommodate up to 300 attendees. Venues include the Atlantic Ballroom, with its double-height panoramic windows offering endless views of the Atlantic Ocean.