Despite Capacity Limits, Long Beach Rated Among The Top 50 Convention Destinations
By George Economides - Publisher's Perspective
August 14, 2012 – It’s not easy competing for meetings and conventions against the likes of New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Orlando or Anaheim, to name but a few popular destination cities.
Long Beach doesn’t have a Disney or Universal theme park or a professional sports team. Nor is it the headquarters to dozens of major corporations which could wave the home-team flag. More importantly, the city does not have thousands of hotel rooms and hundreds of thousands of square feet of meeting and exhibit space.
Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) President and CEO Steve Goodling, center,
But what Long Beach does have is a beautiful waterfront, great weather, a strong mixture of art, historic and water-related amenities, a central location to Southern California attractions, easy access by air or car, and a top notch convention and visitors bureau staff led by its president and CEO, Steve Goodling.
Those attributes combined with that leadership are why Long Beach has been rated by meeting planners as one of the top 50 destinations in the U.S., according to a just-released survey of more than 1,000 U.S. cities by Cvent, the world’s largest meetings and events management technology company.
In its release announcing the results, the Virginia-based firm stated:
“What’s the perfect host city for your upcoming event? When it’s time to plan the perfect meeting, there’s a lot to consider. That’s why Cvent set out to identify the top 50 meeting destinations in the United States. Every city has its own unique flavor, but which cities are the most popular among planners? We evaluated over 1,000 cities, ranking them based on meeting and event booking activity in the Cvent Supplier Network. It’s an impressive list!”
Long Beach came in 42nd on the list, but this accomplishment is even more impressive when the numbers are examined more closely. Consider the following:
Additionally, several of the cities ranked higher than Long Beach are primarily tourist-oriented destinations, not convention sites. These include 12th ranked Scottsdale, Arizona (part of the Phoenix market); 19th Grapevine, Texas (Dallas market); 20th Kissimmee, Florida (Orlando market); 26th Arlington, Virginia; 28th Hollywood, Florida; 38th Carlsbad, California; 39th Henderson, Nevada; and 40th Alexandria, Virginia. (View the full list: http://www.cvent.com/en/sem/top-50-meeting-destinations-us-2012.shtml.)
Long Beach does not have the physical space to add too many more hotels or to expand the convention center. The only possibilities for the latter are to either build higher, adding several floors to existing space, or take over The Pike property and connect both sides of Pine Avenue, adding exhibit space and hotels.
From a revenue standpoint, Long Beach city officials should examine increasing the city’s meeting and hotel room capacity. Conventioneers, trade show attendees and tourists bring “new” dollars into the city. These dollars change hands several times through hotels, restaurants, retailers, car rental agencies, taxis, etc., and through the employees who work at these operations.
Like many cities, Long Beach city coffers are straining to generate revenue because tax money is down significantly from pre-recession levels. One of the few ways the city can generate considerable revenue is by attracting larger meetings and conventions. That’s an investment in the future of Long Beach that should be explored immediately.
On a related subject, Business Journal staff met recently with two men – Dave Morton and Steve Prahalis – representing the Michigan-based Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The group’s Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Exposition & Conference has been held in Anaheim the past two years. But in March 2013, the event and its approximate 6,000 attendees (mostly engineers) are coming to Long Beach. Asked why they moved it here, they said that once they visited the city it was an easy decision. “Long Beach has a lot to offer,” they agreed.
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