SMG Scores Pennsylvania Convention Center Management Contract

June 4, 2013

In April, the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia issued RFPs for the management and operation of the venue, and West Conshohocken, Penn.-based SMG prevailed as the winner of the lucrative five-year contract.

The venue’s board first voted 13-2 to privatize the center and 12-3 to give the contract to SMG.

"To be given this vote of confidence in our own backyard is a real thrill,” said Gregg Caren, SMG’s senior vice president strategic business development.

He added, “We love this city and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. So many of their clients (and prospective clients) are our customers already – working with us in many other markets. We look forward to working with the Authority, staff and PHLCVB on a smooth transition with an eye on future success."

Besides SMG, venue management firm Global Spectrum also had submitted a bid to run the center, according to Caren.

SMG’s responsibilities will include the comprehensive management and operation of the center, including maintenance of the land,  building, furniture, fixtures and equipment; local sales and marketing of the Center, as well as  coordinating with the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; management of  various product and service providers; coordination of Center utilization, scheduling, negotiating and licensing of events and other responsibilities, according to venue officials.

“SMG brings considerable industry expertise and an understanding of our client base to the table," said Jack Ferguson, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau's president and CEO.

He added, "Their bench strength lies in their experience operating convention facilities. In addition, they will bring other business resources that can support a positive customer experience."

The Pennsylvania Convention Center, which added 239,000 square feet of exhibit space in 2011, is just the latest in a string of contract wins for SMG in the past few years, with two major ones being Chicago’s McCormick Place and Detroit’s Cobo Center.

Others include Miami’s James L. Knight Center, South Dakota-based Sioux Falls Convention Center, Jamaica’s Montego Bay Convention Centre and Syracuse, N.Y.-based Oncenter, comprised of the War Memorial Arena, Civic Center Theaters and the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center.

“These wins are always important to expand our network of facilities,” Caren previously told TSNN.

He added, “The more we can expand our distribution network, the better it is for our venues and our clients.”

The Pennsylvania Convention Center hosted three shows on the 2012 TSNN Top 250 Trade Show list.

"Together, (this new contract) will allow us to tap into new business for Philadelphia and bring back others who had not planned to return," Ferguson said.

He added, "We certainly look forward to working with SMG and providing the highest level of customer service to our clients.”

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