Boston Strong: Passion, Leadership and Innovation in Tradeshows

November 9, 2013

Adam Schaffer

Adam Schaffer is Vice President, Tradeshows and Exhibitions for HelmsBriscoe and a member of the IAEE Senior Executives Programming Task Force.

There is a lot going on in Boston as one would expect. Lots of cool and innovative development, great restaurants everywhere, an amazing civic pride and spirit, that baseball team of theirs that just won the World Series … All good.

There also is Jim Rooney, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, who is kind of a force unto himself when it comes to tradeshows.  Jim is one passionate guy.  A native and proud Bostonian, and former chief-of-staff to the mayor, Jim has been running MCCA since 2003 and doing an excellent job.

Jim has a whole initiative dedicated to making Boston one of the top five convention cities in the country.  It’s called, appropriately, Top 5 and embraces a plethora of elements designed to achieve that goal.  This includes smart hotel development, space expansion, strategic partnerships with Massachusetts companies and organizations and, most important for all of us, a special strategy and product development unit with the sole mission of partnering with tradeshow organizers.  This has been the de facto standard in Europe and Asia for years and, as I have previously written, we are seeing good outreach by cities here in the U.S.

Deep inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center chief strategy officer Johanna Storella and her team, which includes industry heavy-hitter Bill Sell in the event development seat, are busy making Boston even more hospitable for shows than it already is.  In a nutshell, the level of engagement runs from low-risk to high-risk for the city:

·         Contracted Services

·         Hired Event Management

·         Event Partnerships

·         Joint Ventures

·         Full Show Ownership


This approach takes out barriers to entry and promotes healthy innovation.  Next month, they are launching the Culinary Intelligence Summit.  Now that’s innovative (and just sounds cool).

The team will listen to great proposals for show ideas and help launch – or invest – or both.  They can provide expert layers of show management – tailored for the needs – to grow a show in their venues.  They are a financial and management resource.

I like what they are doing here. It’s a deep dive into what the German organizations have been doing for hundreds of years.  It’s a great and proven model. It’s Boston Strong.

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