Philadelphia's hospitality industry is preparing for a diverse and multi-faceted year of meetings, conventions and events, anchored by 20 citywides, the most in a decade, which will drive approximately 400,000 attendees to the city and generate 335,000 hotel room nights.
Defined as a convention or event that generates more than 2,000 hotel rooms on its peak night, 'citywides' create stability within the industry and help support the more than 74,300 hospitality jobs in Philadelphia County alone. Citywide events also help drive compression in the market, which has a positive impact across Philadelphia's hotel community.
Of the 20 groups visiting Philadelphia in 2020, eight will be arriving for the first time or returning for the first time in over a decade. Key first-time groups include:
- Pediatric Academic Societies, May 1-5 (8,300 estimated attendees)
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., July 15-20 (20,790 estimated attendees)
- American Statistical Association, August 2-6 (7,000 estimated attendees)
- Natural Products Expo East, September 23-26 (30,000 estimated attendees)
“Our team is focused on business retention and delivering dynamic experiences that result in future bookings, but that needs to be balanced with a plan for securing new customers from diversified business segments,” said Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau Senior Vice President, Convention Division, Kavin Schieferdecker. “This year, we are tracking 19% above our 10-year average for hotel room nights generated by citywides, and that's a testament to our collaboration with the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association and the Pennsylvania Convention Center over the past decade.”
More competitive bids have been won recently, in part, because of the destination's services, partnerships, and infrastructure working in harmony to execute at the highest level. In addition, the Philadelphia Hospitality Investment Levy (or “PHiL”), passed by Philadelphia City Council in 2017 and managed by the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, has been a catalyst for groups deciding to bring their business to the city.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Convention Center expanded exhibitor rights, in partnership with the unions servicing the Center, in a 10-year labor agreement, creating some of the most progressive work rules of any major urban convention center in the Northeast United States. In 2020, the Pennsylvania Convention Center will also deploy $16 million in planned capital investments, making technological enhancements and continuing to improve the attendee experience.
“In recent years we have seen a significant growth in our meeting and convention bookings that help to fuel the preservation and creation of tourism and hospitality jobs, which is now one of the largest and fastest growing employment sectors in the city,” said Pennsylvania Convention Center President and CEO John McNichol. “We expect to see continued growth at the Center in the years to come, but we also recognize that to remain competitive we need to always strive to improve the experience of our customers. We are doing that through the financial investments in our infrastructure, as well as constantly re-evaluating how we do business so we can deliver the best results for our customers.”
Part of the formula for bringing in more meetings and conventions to Philadelphia are the PHLCVB's business development divisions, dedicated to three key market segments: PHL Life Sciences, PHL Diversity, and PHL Sports.
In 2020, PHL Life Sciences-related events will represent more than 140,000 total room nights. Those with more than 15,000 estimated attendees include American Chemical Society's 2020 National Meeting (March 22-27), American Psychiatric Association's 2020 Annual Meeting (April 25-29), and American Thoracic Society's 2020 International Conference (May 15-20).
PHL Diversity will host the 2020 Diversity & Inclusion Conference at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn's Landing (March 30-31). In a partnership with Temple University's School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management and Lodging Media, the two-day conference will bring national thought leaders to the city to discuss the direction of corporate social responsibility, equality, equity and business ethics. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.'s 2020 National Boule Convention, noted above, will account for more than 20,000 total room nights.
PHL Sports will partner with Drexel University and the Philadelphia Eagles to host the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships (May 22-25) at Lincoln Financial Field. The three-day event is between 70,000-80,000 and is expected to generate nearly 10,000 group and leisure hotel room nights in the city. The annual Army-Navy Game, also hosted at Lincoln Financial Field, will make its 90th appearance in Philadelphia in December and is expected to generate more than 25,000 room nights.
The citywide calendar begins next week with the American Library Association's 2020 Mid-Winter Meeting (January 24-27).
For a complete list of citywide conventions, please visit our blog.
The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) creates positive economic impact across the Philadelphia region, driving job growth, and promoting the health and vibrancy of our hospitality industry by marketing the destination and the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and attracting overnight visitors. Our work engages our local community, as well as culturally and ethnically diverse regional, national and international convention, sporting event and tourism customers.