Working together, the Board of Directors, SMG and the trade unions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center achieved a remarkable turnaround in just seven months that resulted in the booking of new shows that will generate more than $350 million in economic impact for the Philadelphia region.
The Center’s Board of Directors and Laborers Local 332, Stagehands Local 8, IBEW Local 98, and Iron Workers Local 405 signed new work rules and increased their focus on delivering the best possible experience to customers. “Our goal was to fulfill the promise of the Pennsylvania Convention Center as a regional economic driver for the countless local businesses in our hospitality industry and the tens of thousands of individuals they employ,” PCCA Chairman Gregory J. Fox, Esq., said.
This year promises even greater returns for the region’s hospitality industry as the Convention Center welcomes the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis. Initial estimates project the papal visit while attract more than 1 million visitors from around the world. Other major events at the Center will include the 2015 BIO International Convention, American Association for Cancer Research, International Society for Technology in Education and the NAACP; plus regional favorites such as the Auto Show, Flower Show, Philadelphia Marathon and Comic Con events.
Customer feedback and sagging bookings led the PCCA board to proactively establish – over the course of the past 18 months — a four-point plan of professionalizing management operations, improving the Center’s labor-supply model, modernizing work rules, and ensuring billing transparency for customers. A major turning point occurred last December when the board hired industry-leader SMG of West Conshohocken as the facility’s manager.
“We took a dedicated core workforce, added industry expertise, instilled best practices and re-focused the team’s efforts on winning back customers,” said General Manager Lorenz Hassenstein of SMG at PCC. “These changes to the business model helped bring the center back to the forefront of the meetings and conventions industry.”
In May, the Center’s new work rules and expanded exhibitor rights went into effect with the agreement ratified by the facility’s four current trade union partners. These changes established a core labor workforce and provided customers with more independence and flexibility to set up their own booths, unload personal vehicles, use power tools, and install non-rented A/V equipment.
The adoption of the four-point plan made it easier for the sales forces of SMG, which handles short-term sales of less than 18 months, and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, which books long-term meetings, to have greater success with customers. The NBM Show is among the 2014 events that experienced the changes and will return in future years, bringing a positive employment forecast for future years.
“We can attribute the turnaround at the Center and our future success to key partnerships like the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the hoteliers, SMG, and the trade unions,” PCCA President and CEO John J. McNichol said. “We have all worked together toward the common goal of supporting our 188,000-member regional hospitality community and we look forward to an even greater economic impact in 2015.”
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