What’s Trending at 4 Trade Show Venues This Month

July 9, 2024

Four convention centers across the U.S. are upping their game with new staff and labor training offerings, renovation projects, extended partnerships and property enhancements to improve the event experience for meetings and trade show guests and clients.

Unions and Management Unite To Debut Trade Show Training Center in Philadelphia 

To provide its staff and labor partners with training and skill-building in safety, technical skills development, customer service and hospitality, the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC) in Philadelphia has launched an onsite training center with a conference room for hosting instructor-led training programs and two computer labs for online training.   

According to officials from ASM Global, which operates and manages the facility, the new 1,000-square-foot training center is an outgrowth of the PCC’s Hospitality Industry Advancement Trust (HIAT) Fund, a partnership between the facility’s management and the four labor unions that provide show floor labor at the venue: Laborers’ International Local 332; International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 8 (IATSE); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98; and Iron Workers Local 4.

Pennsylvania CC

Designed to enhance training opportunities for labor personnel in safety, development of technical skills, and customer service/hospitality, as know as “Safety, Skills, and Smiles,” HIAT Fund training includes: 

  • Safety programs that provide participants with opportunities to obtain general and specialized Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety certifications.
  • Skills training coordinated with contractors in the convention and meeting industry, such as installation and dismantle (I&D) and decorator companies, to provide the workforce with the latest technical training in order to offer the most efficient and economical builds possible. 
  • Hospitality programs focused on providing labor partners with customer service skills including prioritizing customers, positive attitude and engagement, and a commitment to success. 

Funded jointly by the facility’s labor partners and the PCC Authority, the HIAT Fund is believed to be the only joint training initiative of its kind in the U.S., according to ASM Global officials. Trade show labor unions provide a contribution to the fund for every hour worked by a union member, an amount that is then matched by PCC management. 

“The HIAT Fund and this training initiative represent a long-term commitment to ensuring the labor personnel who work in our facility not only have the latest safety and skills training, but also a high-level of hospitality-focused training,” explained John J. McNichol, president and CEO of the PCC Authority. “This is in keeping with the overall culture of our facility and staff and represents an ongoing commitment to improving ourselves and the services we offer to our customers.”

In addition to providing a dedicated location for labor personnel training, the new training center will also host in-house training programs for ASM Global staff via ASM Global Academy and Experience, which offers training courses in guest services; diversity, equity and inclusion; food safety; inclusive culture; sustainability; operations; safety and security; and leadership.

Baltimore Convention Center Inks 7-Year Deal with Projection

Baltimore Convention Center

The Baltimore Convention Center (BCC) renewed and expanded its partnership with event technology services provider Projection through 2031. As part of the extended agreement, Projection will continue as the facility’s preferred in-house audiovisual (AV) services provider while introducing exclusive rigging services.

Leveraging more than 50 years of experience in the meetings and convention industry, Projection offers in-person, hybrid and fully virtual event production design and services, including networking, presentation management, staging, sound and lighting services, capture, live streaming, and overflow solutions.

“Projection has been with us for over 17 years and continues their unparalleled partnership,” said Mac Campbell, BCC executive director. “They engage our clients, regardless of the scope of work, with unmatched customer service that is a core tenant of who we are in Baltimore. No job is too small while still being masters of large-scale and complex productions. We really couldn’t be happier to count on their presence in our building for another seven years.”

Rainwater Conference Center in Southern Georgia Receives Facelift 

On June 13, the Rainwater Conference Center in Valdosta, Ga. unveiled nearly $1 million in renovations that have refreshed more than 32,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space with a modern feel. 

 Rainwater Conference Center

The updates include new furniture throughout the lobby and common areas; renovated restrooms; new carpet in all hallways, boardrooms and meeting spaces; several sleek chandeliers and wall sconces; new interior paint throughout the entire venue; live plants; and 25 pieces of new artwork produced by local artist Daniel Hanifan. 

Rainwater also prioritized using local businesses and contractors to complete the renovations, according to center officials.

“As the largest event space in the area, the renovations at Rainwater Conference Center were thoughtfully planned and executed to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of our community and out-of-town planners,” said David DiSalvo, president and CEO of Visit Valdosta. “The modernization of the building was vital to create a more sophisticated atmosphere and color scheme that can seamlessly blend into any event.”   

Offering a full menu of meeting and event services and packages, Rainwater’s meeting spaces and amenities include a versatile 11,000-square-foot Grand Hall; a 4,300-square-foot outdoor Veranda with lake and fountain views; two technology-equipped boardrooms that can each seat up to 14 guests; four natural light-filled Garden Suites, measuring 559 square feet or 1,151 square feet; and two Gazebo Suites, ranging in size from 1,000 to 2,200 square feet.

Grand River Center Inspires Visitors With New Public Artwork

Oak View Group (OVG), operators of Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, unveiled a public art piece at the entrance of the convention center that will be on display for one year.

Grand River Center

Titled “SPACE+TIME=THE MOMENT,” the sculpture was crafted by local artist Dan Aldeman as a tribute to Dubuque, with assistance from Jim Kelly and collaboration with Key City Creative Center. Standing 9 feet tall, the piece features a 4-inch-wide limestone disc that rotates 360 degrees and aligns with the sun daily. At its center are etchings of the river borders of Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and the Mississippi River, with a drilled hole marking Dubuque’s location. 

“Integrating public art into the Grand River Center reflects the City of Dubuque’s character, drawing visitors near and far to immerse themselves in its beauty,” said Bonnie Spurling, arts and cultural affairs manager for the City of Dubuque, which partnered with OVG in early February to bring the project to life. 

She added, “By weaving public art into the venue, it becomes more than an event space; it transforms into a destination, inspiring and connecting through artistic expression.” 

According to OVG officials, the company aims to bring inspiration, aesthetics, and connection to the venue and community by incorporating public art at the venue. 

“I am a firm believer that public art holds a strong place in public assembly venues, especially convention centers,” said Ryan Bonifas, general manager of the Grand River Center. “I look forward to future opportunities to partner with the City of Dubuque and local artists to enhance the experience for our guests and community.”

Situated on the bank of the Mississippi River, Grand River Center features more than 86,000 sq. ft. of trade show, meeting, and conference space, including six meeting rooms and the River Room, an all-glass enclosure with a balcony jutting over the Mississippi Riverwalk.

Have some trade show venue news to share? Reach out to lisa.savas@informa.com and danica.tormohlen@informa.com.


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