Recession puts corporate event planners in a tight spot

    The American Association for Cancer Research has signed on the dotted line to hold their annual convention in Philadelphia in 2015. Expected to draw 20,000 attendees, it will be the largest convention the city has ever hosted.

    The American Association for Cancer Research has signed on the dotted line to hold their annual convention in Philadelphia in 2015. Expected to draw 20,000 attendees, it will be the largest convention the city has ever hosted. The deal comes at a time when bringing corporate events to Philadelphia has become difficult. With the deflated economy and construction delays on the new convention center, corporate planners can be skittish.

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    Jack Ferguson of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau calls it helicoptering. It’s when the people who plan corporate events hover around potential sites until the last possible moment before making a decision. Ferguson says events are so tightly budgeted that nobody wants to risk over, or underbooking.

    Ferguson: Their attendance has been down, or their exhibitors has been down, so they don’t want to make commitments the size of convention center, or make commitments to all the hotel rooms they might need, until they know exactly what it looks like this year.

    The Convention and Visitors Bureau’s annual report shows the number of corporate events in the city has fallen, but only half as much as the national average. Ferguson says the Bureau will be marketing the city in Asia, where he says fears of swine flu have hampered travel.

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