What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: Game Developers Conference, Destination DC's Sustainability Summit, Freeman's Net Zero Road Map, and More

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

Last week, Destination DC produced its first-ever Sustainability Summit. The event was a partnership between the DMO and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), and the local hospitality community.
Last week, Destination DC produced its first-ever Sustainability Summit. The event was a partnership between the DMO and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), and the local hospitality community.
Photo: Courtesy of Destination DC

In Case You Missed It

Connect Spring Marketplace is just around the corner. Taking place at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas, the event promises one-on-one appointments and purposeful education—but expect exciting networking experiences and other perks too. Last week, we took a deep dive into what to expect this year, from a planner gifting suite to a country-themed opening reception. Interested in attending as a hosted buyer? Applications close March 22.

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

1. San Francisco welcomes back the Game Developers Conference.

Game on, San Fran. This week, March 18-22, the city will welcome back the Game Developers Conference (GDC), the game industry's premier professional event that's been held in San Francisco for more than 35 years. This year, GDC expects to draw nearly 300,000 attendees and generate $40.6 million in economic impact for the city.

Programming will feature more than 700 sessions, including talks from the makers of games like Super Mario Bros. Wonder, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. The conference also aims to create opportunities for job seekers in the industry by hosting game publishers looking to hire new talent.

This year's GDC will also celebrate how music brings games to life. Accompanied by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, GDC is hosting The Developer’s Concert, a live instrumental performance conducted by composer Austin Wintory and co-hosted by actor and singer-songwriter Troy Baker. The concert will showcase influential and notable game scores throughout history—with a spotlight on music from the past year.

2. Destination DC hosts an inaugural sustainability summit.

Last week, Destination DC produced its first-ever Sustainability Summit. The event was a partnership between the DMO and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), and the local hospitality community. 

“We recognize our need to do more when it comes to sustainability, so the summit is a step in the right direction as we focus on what we can do collectively as destination stewards,” said Destination DC President and CEO Elliott Ferguson in a press release. 

Ferguson moderated the event at the Capital Turnaround. Speakers—including Destination DC's senior manager of sustainability, Shelby Luzzi—shared information about steering D.C.'s tourism and event industry toward a more sustainable path.

The QUÉBEC AUTOCHTONE space is in the shape of a circle to evoke the cycle of life, as the circle is an important symbol for Indigenous peoples.The QUÉBEC AUTOCHTONE space is in the shape of a circle to evoke the cycle of life, as the circle is an important symbol for Indigenous peoples.Photo: Courtesy of Palais des congrès de Montréal

3. Montreal's convention center opens an Indigenous-themed networking space.

Interest in Indigenous tourism is growing in Canada, and Montreal is taking note. The Palais des congrès de Montréal recently unveiled a new space, called QUÉBEC AUTOCHTONE, within the convention center dedicated to Québec's 11 Indigenous nations.

The thematic area features a structure of wooden poles carved by Innu designer and artisan Serge Ashini Goupil, a 3D map of the 55 Indigenous communities in Québec, the emblems of each of the 11 nations, and large-format photographs depicting dancers in their traditional dress. The space is in the shape of a circle to evoke the cycle of life, as the circle is an important symbol for Indigenous peoples.

"The QUÉBEC AUTOCHTONE space will allow thousands of conventiongoers from around the world to enjoy a revelatory moment, swept up by the magnificence of the Indigenous tourism offer in Québec," said Indigenous Tourism Québec President Dave Laveau in a statement. "This partnership with the Palais des congrès de Montréal is not only innovative, it's a great step toward bringing communities closer together. We're grateful and energized as a sectoral tourism association and proud that this promising initiative is taking root in Montréal."

4. Freeman launches a net-zero events road map.

Earlier this month, Freeman shared its Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative road map, which outlines the company’s plans to reduce its environmental impact.

"[Reaching net zero] requires a clear strategy and a detailed tactical plan to solve a lot of smaller challenges over time, with each one taking us closer to the goal of net zero," said Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck in a press release. "We won’t get there overnight. But we’ll get there.”

The road map features both initiatives already in place and new innovations. This includes:

  • Reduce and replace: Freeman will follow a course of “reduce and replace” in many of its impact areas. It wants to reduce its use of all resources and replace conventional ones with sustainable options for the energy and goods it uses.
  • Expand rental and reuse programs by encouraging customers to choose rentals over single-use items that end up in the landfill post-event.
  • Expand end-of-event options. Think donation programs and national-scale recycling.

5. New Orleans' convention center renovation gives major boost to small businesses.

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center says that construction at the facility is expected to generate over $50 million in new small and emerging business and disadvantaged business enterprise contracts through 2026. The contracts are for renovation project work, which is included in the Capital Improvement Plan.

“We are spending half a billion dollars to bring the convention center up to date so it can continue to be a significant driver for the local and state economy," said the convention center's president, Jerry Reyes, in a statement. "With such a large-scale project comes a lot of responsibility, including directing as much of this $557 million investment as possible to local and small businesses. By working together, we are improving the Convention Center and lifting businesses of all sizes across Greater New Orleans.”

And one major renovation is almost complete: The convention center's roof replacement is nearing the finish line—featuring a new 40-acre “cool roof” that's designed to better reflect heat and contribute to energy savings.

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