by Andrea Doyle | Successful Meetings

Last year was the highest convention booking year ever for Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) reported last week. With 713 events using 903,199 hotel room nights secured, the city enjoyed an 18.2 percent increase in the number of events and a 5.8 percent increase in room nights secured over 2015. This represents $1.3 billion in economic impact for Philadelphia and the region.

The PHLCVB'S 2016 bookings are 28 citywide events, up from 25 in 2015. Almost 70 percent of the room nights secured for future years are related to meetings and conventions taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC), with the rest tied to meetings taking place at regional hotels and other venues.

Among the booked groups are the 2022 American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery/American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASCRS/ASOA) Annual Symposium & Congress, the 2019 and 2025 National School Boards Association Annual Conference, and the 2026 Leading Age Annual Meeting & Expo.

Helping to drive this increase in bookings are changes made to the city's meeting venues and rules related to meetings held there. For example, the PCC has recently simplified its work rules and encouraged cooperation among SMG (the entertainment and convention venue management company) and labor unions.

"We are extremely proud of our teams at the PHLCVB and the PCC who have done significant work to secure both new groups and those who in previous years had said they would not return to Philadelphia," said PHLCVB President and CEO Julie Coker Graham. "As our Center, our labor unions and SMG continue to cultivate a strong customer-focused environment, Philadelphia can continue to look
forward to a robust convention calendar for years to come."

The large citywide conventions booked by the PHL CVB are major contributors to hotel occupancy. In 2016, convention and group business represented the largest market segment influencing hotel room demand with over a million room nights contributing to record-breaking 78 percent hotel occupancy.

In 2017, PHL CVB-booked conventions and events are projected to consume more than 620,000 room nights and generate over $900 million in economic impact for Philadelphia. Some of those groups include the NFL Draft, LIGHTFAIR International, and the National Black MBA Association, among others.