Saturday, April 11, 2009

MMPI and the convention business

To succeed, Cleveland's new convention center won't just live off the Medical Mart. It'll also book non-medical conventions. MMPI, as the center's manager, will have to win back convention organizers who used to book events in Cleveland until a few years ago, when our obsolete 1920s-era convention center was surpassed by competition in other cities.

My impression is, that's a different business than what MMPI does elsewhere. Its website bills the company as "the world's leading owner and operator of showroom buildings and trade show facilities." Compare the events at its current centers with events at the Pittsburgh convention center. Pittsburgh books trade shows, but also conferences where professionals get together to talk shop, rather than buy stuff.

MMPI VP Mark Falanga says the company has plenty of experience relevant to booking conventions. It works with third-party show producers at its other facilities, such as Pier 91 and 94, its convention facility in New York, he says.

If MMPI doesn't have all the experience it needs, it'll turn to those who do: "We plan to work with the Greater Cleveland Partnership" to book conventions, Falanga says. "We'll also hire in staff that has done this for other convention centers. We think this is a good overlap."

I didn't hear him say MMPI would work with Positively Cleveland -- which is, after all, our convention and visitors' bureau. There may be a reason for that, which I'll post about soon. Update, 4/13: MMPI says it does plan to work with Positively Cleveland. See this new post, halfway down.

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