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What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: KC's New Single-Terminal Airport, Phoenix Takes Meetings Lead in January, Catching Up with Exhibition Place, and More

BizBash rounds up the latest news related to meetings, trade shows, and CVBs/DMOs.

What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: February 2023
Kansas City's new single-terminal design—debuting Feb. 28—includes the city's largest public art project to date. Inside the new terminal (and the parking garage), travelers will notice works from 28 artists, many of whom have local connections and are women or an artist of color.
Photo: Cheryl Schoenberg

In Case You Missed It
Last month, we recapped PCMA Convening Leaders, which brought thousands of meeting and event profs to Columbus, Ohio. Maybe the most resounding highlight was the way the city—through collaboration with Experience Columbus—was incorporated throughout the programming. In our writeup, we spoke with producers of the event from PCMA and Experience Columbus on how a strong destination partnership helps an event succeed. 

Earlier this month, we covered two other prominent meetings/trade shows—both outside the U.S. From a sustainability-focused exhibit to a display of designs courtesy of next-gen designers, this year’s IDS Toronto was bursting with inspiration and innovation. And after winning Best Sustainability Event in 2022, this year’s Conventa—held in Slovenia—continued its impressive success by promoting “New Europe” to new attendees.

Here are five more things you should know about this month...

1. Kansas City will complete a major infrastructure project next week (that meeting attendees are sure to appreciate).
When Kansas City's (KC) three-terminal airport debuted in the '70s, the design was once considered the forefront of modern aviation. Now, the airport will welcome a new $1.5-billion, single terminal design on Feb. 28. Its one million square feet will feature 39 gates (with the capability to expand to 50) and modern amenities that air travelers expect today like airline/USO lounges, moving walkways, mothers' rooms, and a number of glass-enclosed jetways.

Meanwhile outside, travelers can expect a split roadway with dedicated levels for arrivals and departures, a new 6,100-space parking garage with electric charging spots, and designated curb spaces for taxis, ride-sharing platforms, and shuttle buses.

What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: February 2023The new terminal has numerous glass-enclosed jetways. Visit KC says the city will now be the largest operator of all-glass passenger boarding bridges in the U.S.Photo: Kate Sweeten

There's now plenty of opportunities for KC visitors to get a taste of regional eateries in the area, with dining concepts from Parisi Coffee, Stockyards Brewing, and a rotating barbecue showcase. Inside the new terminal (and its parking garage), travelers will also notice works from 28 artists, all  commissioned as part of the largest public art project in the history of the city—many of whom have local connections and are women or an artist of color. 

ADA features include a sensory room, wheelchair-accessible heights at every desk and check-in position, visual paging systems, and The Kansas City Air Travel Experience, which simulates the entire airport process from getting a ticket, passing through security, and boarding.

"This new single terminal is a game-changer for Kansas City—one that will undoubtedly create dynamic first and last impressions for the destination with each visit," says Nathan Hermiston, Visit KC's senior vice president of convention sales and services. "Accessibility and the overall travel experience are important factors in the buying process for our clients. This critical junction is often when perceptions and expectations are met or not, and this new single terminal will be an exclamation point on Kansas City's compelling case for meetings and conventions."

The new terminal will open just in time for major events hosting in the destination this year, including the 2023 NFL Draft and the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship.

2. Phoenix and Orlando took the lead in meetings and events by volume for January 2023. 
Knowland—which is known for providing data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events—reports that Phoenix led the U.S. meetings and events industry by volume for January 2023. Second place went to Orlando, and Washington, D.C. took third. The leading industry driver for meetings was "technology" across four of the top five markets, Knowland says. The report also found that meetings and events in the U.S. in January 2023 increased 88.9% over January 2022.

“The United States meetings and events business is back, growing both year over year and over historical baseline years," said Knowland chief product officer Kristi White in a press release. "The January number seems a bit outlandish, but it illustrates how much Omicron impacted that month. As we move deeper into the year, the comparisons will tighten. Looking at the growth markets, it’s nice to see tertiary markets with the largest growth. These should be exciting to watch in the coming months as growth spreads even more.”

The top five markets for January 2023 by volume also included Atlanta and Dallas.

3. Toronto's Exhibition Place gears up for a full roster of events this year.
When the Toronto International Boat Show returned to Exhibition Place last month—its first iteration since the pandemic—the huge trade show celebrated its 65th anniversary. Again, it took over the campus's Enercare Centre, where it filled the hockey arena with a million gallons of water to create "the world's largest indoor lake," says Laura Purdy, general manager of Exhibition Place, adding that the lake ends up being about four feet deep for things like boating and wakeboarding demonstrations. "That was a really awesome way to start the year."

What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: February 2023Need to build a huge indoor lake for your event? It was no problem for Exhibition Place's Enercare Centre, which hosted the Toronto International Boat Show in January. The indoor lake played host to boating and wakeboarding demonstrations.Photo: Courtesy of Exhibition Place

The boat show is just one of many meetings and trade shows on the calendar for Exhibition Place this year. The venue, like many across Canada, is experiencing a compression of events as the country reopened at a slower pace than the U.S. "It's almost like we're drinking through a fire hose," Purdy says. "We have an awful lot of compression, which is great."

Some of the highlights on Exhibition Place's roster this year? Purdy cites SIAL Canada, an international food service trade show taking place in May; Collision 2023, the second largest tech conference in the world, taking place in June; and ACE 2023, the American Water Works Association's annual conference, also happening in June.

It's a wide range of event types, and Purdy says Exhibition Place is built to handle it all. "We have that versatility and flexibility," she explains. "We're on a 192-acre campus, and we run the entire campus. ... It's almost like if you can imagine it, we can we can work with you to make it happen." New upgrades to the facility since the pandemic include a broadcast studio for hybrid events and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the entire convention facility.

4. Visit Greater Palm Springs launches grant program to support local businesses.
Lately, we've loved learning about all of the impactful ways DMOs are tapping their communities to help promote destinations. (Back in November, we chatted with Travel Santa Ana about its inaugural brand campaign that's an ode to local artists.) This month, another California DMO caught our eye. Visit Greater Palm Springs has partnered with Caravanserai Project—a locally based social impact organization—to support a group of up to 30 Coachella Valley small business entrepreneurs with micro-grants up to $7,500, as well as business readiness training.

This micro-grant and training opportunity is available to Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs with businesses that are a part of the hospitality and tourism ecosystem in the Coachella Valley. These businesses can include restaurants, retail, housecleaning, daycare, transportation, and more.

“Local small businesses are the backbone of the hospitality sector in the Greater Palm Springs region, and investing in their growth and sustainability goes beyond providing those visiting the Coachella Valley high-quality services,” said Mihai Patru, Caravanserai Project's executive director, in a statement. “These investments directly impact the livelihood and well-being of everyone in our region, leading to better paying jobs and living conditions and creating new opportunities for personal and professional growth through entrepreneurship.”

What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: February 2023The Anaheim Convention Center offers 1.8 million square feet of function space.Photo: Courtesy of Visit Anaheim

5. Visit Anaheim shares projected 2023 meetings stats.
In other 2023 meetings numbers, Visit Anaheim has shared some projections for this year. The DMO says that it has confirmed 150 conventions, meetings, and events for 2023, which are projected to bring more than $1.4 billion in economic impact to the local community. Combined, Visit Anaheim says these 43 conventions, 89 meetings, and 18 events at the Anaheim Convention Center will generate an estimated $793 million in tourism occupancy tax revenue for the city, exceeding 2022 tourism occupancy tax revenue numbers.

“Visit Anaheim has an exceptional year planned with shows like Natural Products, WonderCon, NAMM, VidCon, and many more returning to the Anaheim Convention Center," said Visit Anaheim president and CEO Jay Burress in a statement. "These shows, along with a strong leisure return, contributed to a 72% occupancy seen in Anaheim and Garden Grove since December."

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