Philadelphia Breaks Convention Bookings Record
By Lisa Plummer Sava, Trade Show News Network
Last year was a good one for convention business in the City of Brotherly Love. According to the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), 2016 marked its highest convention booking year ever, with 713 events using 903,199 hotel room nights secured for future years.
Those figures represent an 18.2 percent and a 5.8 percent increase in the number of events and room nights secured, respectively, compared with 2015.
Among the major conventions committed to hosting future events in Philly include 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.
The return of ASCRS/ASOA to Philadelphia is a particular boost for the city, given the
dissatisfying experience the societies expressed during their last event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in 2002.
This feedback spurred a dramatic transformation at the facility, including simplified work rules and a renewed spirit of cooperation among SMG, the PCC and the labor unions working in the building.
The National School Boards Association is a first-time group for Philadelphia, while the Leading Age is a returning show that was last held in the city prior to the changes made at the PCC.
“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.
She added, “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 PHLCVB’s 2016 bookings include 28 citywide events versus 25 in 2015.
Almost 70 percent of the room nights secured for future years are related to meetings and conventions taking place at the PCC, with the rest tied to meetings taking place at regional hotels and other venues.
The meetings, conventions and events booked in 2016 are estimated to generate $1.3 billion in economic impact for Philadelphia and the region.
“We are delivering on the promise of customer service and performing at a very high level for great customers such as World Meeting of Families, the Democratic National Convention, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, and most recently, for a record-setting Philadelphia Auto Show,” said PCC President and CEO John J. McNichol.
Large citywide conventions booked by the PHLCVB are major contributors to driving the city’s hotel occupancy.
In 2016, convention and group business represented the largest market segment influencing hotel room demand, with 1,062,000 room nights contributing to record-breaking 78 percent hotel occupancy, an Average Daily Rate of $191 and
Revenue per Available Room of $149 for Philadelphia.
“We are immensely pleased with the positive strides being made by both the PHLCVB and the PCC,” said Greg Stafford, president of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.
He added, “We feel confident that Philadelphia is on the right track and are looking forward to another terrific year with the NFL Draft coming to our city next month.”
In 2017, PHLCVB-booked conventions and events are projected to generate more than 620,000 room nights and more than $900 million in economic impact.
Some of those events include LIGHTFAIR International and the National Black MBA Association.