Miami Beach lands big-name meeting, sees path to more
The Miami Beach Convention Center has just secured its first major booking for 2021, the annual meeting of The Aesthetic Society (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) that will bring an estimated economic impact of $2.4 million to the community.
The April 30-May 3 event plans for 600 participants and 200 exhibiting companies.
According to Rolando Aedo, chief operating officer of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the society chose the Beach as a destination in part because such a meeting couldn’t be held in its original host city due to Covid regulations. The bureau, he said, is working to attract more meeting planners in similar situations.
The center, which has been used throughout the pandemic as a care facility and Covid-testing site, hosted 38 events in fiscal 2019 with total attendance of 422,558, said Miami Beach spokesperson Melissa Bertier. In fiscal 2020, which ended Sept. 30, the 21 events had 300,445 attendees, she said.
The Aesthetic Society meeting will be roughly half its usual size, Mr. Aedo said, but the trend of making conventions smaller and adding a digital element may play out in Miami’s favor by opening up a new segment of the meeting market. Though the convention center is large, he said, with 500,000 square feet of exhibit space, it’s still smaller than competitors in Orlando and Chicago and couldn’t previously accommodate the largest of meetings – until now.
“Because the short-term future is in smaller meetings with a hybrid component,” he said, “we can be more competitive than ever for those larger-scale events which we couldn’t even pursue before because we didn’t have the physical footprint.”
One adaptation the convention center has already made to accommodate this future, he said, is to convert a ballroom into a studio from which meetings can be produced and broadcast for an at-home or international audience.
Upcoming construction of the Grand Hyatt convention center hotel, Mr. Aedo said, will be another critical component in recruiting major events. Development of the hotel, Miami Today reported last month, has been delayed indefinitely due to Covid, though developer David Martin said in a statement he is still confident in the project.
Several new bookings for the center, Mr. Aedo said, will likely follow the Aesthetic Society but are still under wraps. The bureau is also working, he said, to re-book events that were cancelled in 2020 and has succeeded in rescheduling some, including Art Basel.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said he has also been meeting with individuals and groups over Zoom and pitching the Beach and the convention center as a destination. Large events booked in Miami Beach, he said, can have a great economic impact on the entire region.
“The convention center,” he said “brings in a huge volume of visitors that fill a lot of rooms and spend a lot of time and money in our city and in the neighboring areas. There’s an interdependence of our economic region, and it’s not lost on any of us.”
While talk of “the death of trade shows” has raged for years and been accelerated by the pandemic, Mr. Aedo said, the opposite effect is possible.“We are Zoomed out,” he said. “There’s pent-up demand for human interaction. We’re anticipating that in the back half of 2021, and especially for 2022, we’re going to recuperate a lot of that lost in-person business.”