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What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: Engagement Trends, CL24 Achieves Sustainable Event Certification, Philly's Training Center for Convention Staff, and More

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

Indianapolis' $710 million convention center expansion will offer 90,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 50,000-square-foot ballroom that will be among the top 10 convention center ballrooms by size in the nation. Once complete, Indianapolis will have the capacity to host two citywide conventions at one time.
Indianapolis' $710 million convention center expansion will offer 90,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 50,000-square-foot ballroom that will be among the top 10 convention center ballrooms by size in the nation. Once complete, Indianapolis will have the capacity to host two citywide conventions at one time.
Rendering: Courtesy of Visit Indy

In Case You Missed It

It's likely you've booked or attended a show at a convention center and didn't give a second thought to its backstory. From what was once the largest railroad station in the southern U.S. to a facility that has preserved a section of the Underground Railroad, we dive into the compelling histories behind six convention centers.

This month, we also covered C2 Montreal 2024 and explored how a new venue aimed to inspire networking and connection. The three-day event was built around some of the key industries driving the Montreal economy, including sustainability and artificial intelligence. We also gave readers an inside look at the opening reception of U.S. Travel Association's IPW in Los Angeles. The event was a vibrant celebration of street art, cuisine, and music, offering thousands of global visitors a fresh perspective on the City of Angels.

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

1. Ovation Global DMC's new research highlights engagement and personalization trends.

Engagement and personalization have become paramount to an event's success. (Take it from our recent event personalization article.) And new research conducted by Ovation Global DMC proves just that. The destination management company has shed light on the evolution of engagement, content, personalization, and interactivity in the event industry for meetings, conferences, and exhibitions. Its recent survey garnered responses from 463 event profs.

Key findings include:

  • The main challenge behind engagement is capturing the target audience's attention amid a sea of competing events, followed by creative interactive elements and including relevant content.
  • 33.3% of survey participants have incorporated interactive elements such as Q&A sessions during events, and 25% added social media integrations and workshops.
  • Personalization has emerged as a key driver of engagement, with targeted content, tailored sessions, and custom networking opportunities as the key elements event organizers use to make attendees feel valued and engaged.
  • However, 41.7% of respondents cited creating personalized experiences as a significant challenge, with an additional 25% expressing concerns about respecting participants' privacy during these activations.

2. CL24 achieves sustainable event standards certification.

The Events Industry Council recently announced that Convening Leaders 2024, PCMA's flagship education and networking event, achieved Silver Level Certification from EIC’s Sustainable Event Standards. EIC’s standards provide event planners and suppliers with prescriptive actions for producing and delivering sustainable events. 

The standards specify performance criteria in the areas of organizational management; marketing, communication, and engagement; climate action; water management; materials and circularity; supply chain management; diversity, equity and inclusion; accessibility; and social impact. Honeycomb Strategies, a sustainable solutions company, collaborated with PCMA to implement programs for sustainable management in line with EIC requirements. They also collected sustainability metrics on the impact of CL24, which brought together more than 4,000 attendees to the San Diego Convention Center and 949 professionals online.

“PCMA has a unique opportunity—and responsibility—to contribute to the global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” said PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat in a statement. “EIC’s Standards provide us with a framework to measure our event impact while guiding us to rethink how we plan and produce our work collectively. We now have the necessary baseline to create platforms and environments to drive sustainability leadership, and advocate for the importance of a sustainability-by-design approach.” 

3. Diversified to launch a spring stand-alone event for the outdoor industry.

A new spring edition of a burgeoning trade show and conference for the outdoor industry is making its debut in Nashville, Tenn., next year. Set for June 16-18, 2025, at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Switchback Spring is the new sister show of Switchback, a business and education gathering owned and operated by international media company Diversified Communications.

Launched in 2022 as a specialty outdoor showcase and held each fall in conjunction with run and outdoor specialty retail conference and trade show The Running Event (TRE), Switchback offers forward-looking education, myriad networking opportunities, and a bustling expo. The next Switchback at TRE is taking place Nov. 19-21 at the Austin Convention Center in Texas.

"Over the last two years, Switchback at TRE has experienced a lot of growth in attendance from outdoor retailers, media, and brand leaders in the outdoor space," said Switchback event director Christina Henderson. "Based on conversations with our community, partners, brands and retailers, plus the data compiled, it is clear there is a need for a dedicated event that unites the outdoor industry. Ultimately, the goal of Switchback is to support the outdoor industry and the people who comprise it."

Read the full story on BizBash sister site Trade Show News Network here.

The Signia by Hilton will be the tallest hotel in Indianapolis and bring the number of rooms connected by climate-controlled skywalks to more than 5,500. Other features include various food and beverage outlets, a spa, a rooftop pool and fitness center, an outdoor deck, a lawn, and a lounge with all-day food and beverage offerings.The Signia by Hilton will be the tallest hotel in Indianapolis and bring the number of rooms connected by climate-controlled skywalks to more than 5,500. Other features include various food and beverage outlets, a spa, a rooftop pool and fitness center, an outdoor deck, a lawn, and a lounge with all-day food and beverage offerings.Rendering: Courtesy of Visit Indy

4. Indianapolis announces $1 billion in new convention business.

Earlier this month, Visit Indy cited $1.3 million in retained convention-related economic impact and $1 billion in new convention business. The DMO says this is mainly due to continued progress on construction for the Indiana Convention Center expansion and an 800-room Signia by Hilton. 

The following groups will return to Indy and cited the expansion as a main reason:

  • Gen Con through 2030, bringing 70,000 attendees each August
  • FDIC International trade show through 2032, bringing 35,000 attendees each April
  • Drum Corps International through 2033, bringing 30,000 attendees each August

The following new groups booked Indy because of this expansion:

  • The National Education Association in 2027, bringing 9,000 attendees
  • Future Business Leaders of America in 2029, bringing 13,000 attendees
  • Alcoholics Anonymous International Convention in 2035, bringing $70 million in economic impact

“Even at this stage in the project, the Signia headquarter hotel and Indiana Convention Center expansion have given Indy a competitive edge with conventions renewing their commitment to stay in Indy while also attracting new tourism business,” said Chris Gahl, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Visit Indy, in a statement. “This project is also positioning Indy as an ascending meetings destination, a city not sitting idle.”

5. Pennsylvania Convention Center opens new on-site training center for staff.

The Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia has opened a new on-site training center to provide the facility’s staff and labor partners with programs focused on safety, development of technical skills, and customer service and hospitality. The 1,000-square-foot center includes a conference room for hosting instructor-led training programs as well as two computer labs for online training programs.  

The facility is a product of the convention center's Hospitality Industry Advancement Trust (HIAT) Fund, a partnership between the management of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the labor organizations responsible for providing show floor labor to the facility’s customers.

"The [convention] center's management team and our labor partners understand that delivering the best possible experience to our trade show, event, convention, and meeting customers makes us more competitive,” said John J. McNichol, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, in a press release. “The HIAT Fund and this training initiative represent a long-term commitment to ensuring the labor personnel who work in our facility not only have the latest safety and skills training, but also a high level of hospitality-focused training. This is in keeping with the overall culture of our facility and staff and represents an ongoing commitment to improving ourselves and the services we offer to our customers.”

—with additional reporting by Lisa Plummer Savas

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