It’s not just about square footage anymore.
Convention centers have gone from offering a blank slate of space to supporting their
clients with meaningful partnerships and
an array of tools — whether they’re used to
increase attendance, boost sponsorships,
or give exhibitors the VIP treatment. And
more than that, convention centers have
become a place where attendees, in their
few spare moments, can soak up local food,
art, and culture.
Many venues are revamping their spaces
to help groups bring in more revenue, integrating high-tech features that allow planners
to sell more advertising and sponsorships.
For example, the Orange County Convention
Center’s ne w Destination Lounge opened last
year with built-in video walls, LED display systems, and lighting, so planners can easily and
quickly customize the space for sponsors.
Other facilities are remaking their place
within their community, creating new connections — both physical and figurative —
with the destination at large, so attendees
can feel like they’re a part of it. The Greater
Columbus Convention Center’s nearly two-year renovation and expansion wraps up this
month, and one of the most important parts
of the project is a new entrance that puts
visitors at the doorstep of Columbus’ Short
North Arts District. In New Orleans, plans are
calling for the neighborhood surrounding the
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to be reimagined, with new public transit and pedestrian access at the forefront of that blueprint.
For many convention groups, it’s not
enough to fly in, meet, and fly out, especial-
ly when it’s a far-flung destination that they
don’t often have the chance to visit. They
want to experience the local culture in their
free moments, and convention centers are
finding new ways to bring it directly to them.
For example, the Kuala Lumpur Convention
Centre offers qualified international groups
a complimentary arts and crafts experience,
where attendees can try batik painting and
pewtersmithing. As for food and beverage,
options aren’t limited to the in-house caterer anymore. Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands
— home to the 1.3-million-square-foot Sands
Expo and Convention Centre — will help
groups plan a dine-around of the resort’s
numerous celebrity-chef restaurants.
Opened up The Greater Columbus Convention Center’s new atrium and
entrance debuts this month.
More than just a big box.
By Jennifer N. Dienst
Elevated eats Attendees sample fare from one of nine restaurants with a celebrity chef at the
helm at Marina Bay Sands.