On Tuesday, SPI – the Plastics Industry Trade Association, announced that it is dumping Chicago, and shifting NPE – their plastics industry trade show, to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for 2012 and 2015.
Founded by SPI in 1946, NPE has taken place at Chicago’s McCormick Place since 1971.
The organizers justified the move to abandon Chicago by citing savings of over $20 million for both exhibitors and attendees, with more than half of that coming from lower travel related expenses in Orlando, including for hotel rooms, restaurant meals and parking.
SPI conducted a study this year by comparing costs of the 2009 show in Chicago – which was held in June with 44,000 attendees and total spending on the local economy worth over $95 million, against projected costs for NPE2012 in Orlando. Turns out they would end up saving 23% on lodging and 11% for travel.
SPI’s announcement comes on the heels of a similar backout by the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society, which shifted its 2012 venue from Chicago to Las Vegas.
Orlando and Las Vegas, which have seen their own share of lost conventions and corporate events over the last year due to the AIG Effect, will no doubt be happy to be at the recieving end for once – and hopefully, this will serve as an example to other corporate groups, and put an end to the AIG Effect.
As for Chicago (and other labor strongholds), this signals the start of a ‘Reverse AIG Effect.’ At a time when destinations and travel companies are offering heavy discounts and deals to attract Conventions and kick-start the Meetings & Events sector, labor strong-holds are being left behind due to the inability to cut costs and reduce workforce.
Chicago Mayor Daley called the loss of the NPE and HIMSS trade shows “a very serious loss” and called for changes at McCormick Place – Chicago’s Convention Center. In response, officials from McPier – which operates the convention center, and ChooseChicago – Chicago’s Convention Bureau, are meeting on Wednesday with Labor and representatives for the city’s restaurant and hotel owners.
This joint taskforce is expected to set aside their differences and come up with a plan to make McCormick Place and Chicago a more competitive destination for Conventions and trade shows.
For the workers, it looks like a no-win situation – They’ll have to give up hard-fought ground on a host of issues – from work rule changes to benefits, layoffs and unionization - if they agree to cooperate. And if they don’t – they’ll likely end up losing more jobs in the future and having to make even bigger concessions, as other trade shows and conventions follow suit and give up on Chicago.
Photo by Rob Jacob