Seven years after it took Philadelphia out of the running to host its annual conference and exposition due to labor issues, the American Industrial Hygiene Association recently announced that it is bringing its show back to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in 2018. According to AIHA, the new union work rules and expanded exhibitor rights the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority instituted in May, along with the implementation of new best practices by convention center facility manager SMG, removed the barriers that kept it from returning to Philadelphia until now.
“Philadelphia has long been a go-to city for so many reasons, but bringing a large meeting to the center was simply too difficult because of onerous work rules and limitations on exhibitors. This meant that, despite a successful meeting in 2007, AIHA would not reconsider Philadelphia,” says Peter J. O’Neil, CAE, Executive Director of AIHA. “Fast forward to 2014, AIHA has signed to bring its annual meeting back—nearly 6,000 delegates in all—to one of the best cities on the East Coast. With better work rules, expanded exhibitor rights, and a fantastic convention and visitors bureau team, we could not say no.”
AIHA may be the first to come back to the center since the new Customer Satisfaction Agreement was signed in early May by four labor unions and ratified by the center’s board of directors, but the city anticipates that other groups will have a similar reaction.
“This is exactly the type of event we were hoping would give Philadelphia a second look following the recent changes we put in place, which include bringing SMG on board to manage the Center and the adoption of a new, improved Customer Satisfaction Agreement,” says Gregory J. Fox, chairman of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority’s board of directors. “We are hopeful that this is just the first of many conferences and events that will return to Philadelphia in the wake of our efforts to improve service and the customer experience.”
The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, SMG, and the PCCA are doing more than just hoping, though. They are launching sales missions in key markets and are deploying a joint marketing campaign to alert meeting planners to the changes at the center.