Chicago snaps up NOLA meetings

Not surprisingly, Chicago is snapping up some choice dislocated meetings, including the 28,000-attendee American Academy for Orthopedic Surgeons annual conference, and the 4,500-person Society of Thoracic Surgeons meeting. In a nice move, Chicago hotels have offered to rebate $10 per room to go to hurricane recovery efforts. And for those who accuse Chicago and other cities of benefitting from the disaster:

    Tourism officials across the country bristle at the notion that there's a bare-knuckles competition under way for the stranded business, saying their goals are to assist New Orleans and its trade show and convention customers.

    "First and foremost . . . we're going to be able to return proceeds to the hurricane relief efforts in New Orleans," said Bill Utter, acting chief executive at the Chicago bureau.

Others who are getting the lion's share of displaced New Orleans meetings include the usual suspects: Atlanta, Orlando, and Las Vegas. Where else are the mega-shows going to go?

Update: According to Special Events, San Francisco has picked up its first Katrina-dislocated show, the 5,000-attendee Society of Critical Care Medicine's 2006 congress, now slated for Jan. 7-11 in Moscone Center.

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