As a sign that changes to the business model at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) are working, LIGHTFAIR International (LFI), the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting tradeshow and conference, announced today that it will return to Philadelphia in 2017.
LFI last met at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in 2013, after first bringing its show here in 2011, and its return is a major win for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) and the Convention Center, who worked diligently over the past two years to secure the group.
“To say that we are thrilled about LIGHTFAIR’s decision to return would be an understatement. This group is highly respected within the tradeshow circuit and their decision to come back to Philadelphia says a great deal about their confidence in the considerable changes that have taken place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center over the last two years,” said Jack Ferguson, president & CEO, PHLCVB. “In addition, our city’s accessibility for convention attendees, compact hotel package, walkable downtown and expanded Convention Center make us an appealing destination to convention groups and were all things that LIGHTFAIR looked at when they selected Philadelphia.”
The group’s decision to return hinged on a number of factors, chief among them the ability to successfully work with the labor force at the Convention Center. When the group last met here in May 2013, the Center had already begun implementation of a four-point plan established by the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority’s (PCCA) Board of Directors, to improve the customer experience and increase the competitiveness of the Center. That plan began with the selection of venue management firm SMG in June 2013 and led to successful negotiation of a new labor agreement with four trade unions that was ratified in May 2014.
Since then, the PHLCVB has booked 69 shows into the Convention Center, equating to an estimated $1.4 billion in economic impact for future years. Throughout the process, LIGHTFAIR was kept updated on the progress being made at the Center, and the PCCA’s commitment to LIGHTFAIR was underscored by Gregory Fox, Chairman of the PCCA’s Board of Directors, who met with the group to hear their feedback and address concerns directly.
“We have implemented a variety of changes at the Center with the goal of recapturing prior customers and attracting new shows and events,” said Fox. “LFI’s decision demonstrates that the strategic initiatives presented to the board three years ago – and subsequently adopted and implemented — are making the Center more competitive, driving increased bookings, and benefitting the city’s hospitality industry.”
“The Center is continuing to see the benefits of new customer-friendly work rules, expanded exhibitor rights, and the hiring of SMG to manage the day-to-day operations of the Center,” said John McNichol, President and CEO, PCCA. “SMG brought a new customer-focused approach to the management of the Center that is receiving high marks from the industry. We are thrilled that LFI has selected Philadelphia for their 2017 event and we look forward to delivering a great experience.”
LIGHTFAIR will take place from May 7-11, 2017 and is expected to generate more than $43 million in economic impact for Philadelphia.