Trade Show Operators Against Planned Change In Miami Beach Convention Center Management
Written by Risa Polansky on August 21, 2008
By Risa Polansky
Allowing Art Basel’s parent company to have a hand in running the Miami Beach Convention Center could hurt future convention bookings here, a major industry association says.
The Society of Independent Show Organizers’ board, made up of national and global tradeshow operators, last week sent a letter to Miami Beach officials discouraging a deal between the city and prospective center operator Global Spectrum, set to partner with Messe Schweiz, the Swiss company that owns Art Basel, a major user of the center.
"As an industry, the perception is that any formal or informal tie of the Miami Beach Convention Center to Messe Schweiz or any other competitive interest will enter into the minds of current and potential facility users," the letter says.
Beach commissioners voted last month to negotiate with Global Spectrum.
A final contract would end current manager SMG’s nearly 18-year run.
Some industry professionals advised against the switch.
"Support for SMG continuation came from the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the overwhelming majority of show organizers in the building, and the hospitality community," said Doug Tober, senior general manager of the center and regional general manager of SMG.
The letter from the show organizers chastises the commission for "ignoring" that support.
"It was clear that their — and thus our — concerns as customers were summarily dismissed."
Frank Russo, a senior VP for Global Spectrum, said Art Basel’s operator won’t be involved with event booking.
"No show that is currently there will in any way be placed at a disadvantage."
Still, the show organizers’ board wrote, "we implore you [city officials] to consider the implications of your decision, which will have a direct impact on our venue selection process."