PIT Rolls Out Red Carpet for ‘Super Bowl’ of Conventions

It’s official: The Steelers won’t play in the Super Bowl this year.

But Pittsburgh is still hosting what some call the Super Bowl of conventions, when more than 4,000 meeting and convention planners from around the globe gather at the David Lawrence Convention Center from Jan. 6-9.

And while that may not seem as exciting as football’s title game, PCMA’s annual convention is actually a huge deal: an economic impact of up to $6.2 million for the event itself  and the potential for tens of millions of dollars in revenue from future convention bookings.

“PCMA is the gold standard for convention management professionals,” said Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH. “These are the individuals who will decide which city will host their next big event. It’s our opportunity to showcase what Pittsburgh is capable of doing and our opportunity to shine as a city.

“We’ve been referred to as an ‘it’ city for a while, and now is our time to prove it,” Davis added.

The latest “it” accolade came from National Geographic Traveler in December, when it named Pittsburgh to its 2019 Cool List. Local residents have known about the city’s cool factor for decades, and their warmth and friendliness is sure to be felt by PCMA convention attendees as Pittsburghers point them to our favorite “insider” hangouts and hot spots.

For many of the delegates and attendees, Pittsburgh International Airport will be their first stop, and PIT will not disappoint.

Delegates and attendees coming through the airport can register for the convention in PIT’s Center Core before they collect their baggage. In the Airside Terminal, the Martini Bar will greet the arrivals with a mini PCMA lounge, with a featured PCMA drink. Parrots from the National Aviary will provide some live interaction. At a welcome table in baggage claim, staff will be on hand to provide directions, point visitors to taxis and shuttles, and answer questions about the city.

“Having PCMA come to Pittsburgh is a huge opportunity for us,” said Jeff Martinelli, PIT’s manager of customer programs. “We recognize that the airport is the first impression people get of our city, and we want to make it great.”

This year’s PCMA event wasn’t even originally slated for Pittsburgh. But when the association ran into some challenges with its original host, they turned to the City of Bridges.

“Cities usually have three years to prepare; our time was cut to a year-and-a-half,” said Davis. “We were happy to do it.”

Heading to the northeast for a convention in January isn’t generally on the top of most people’s lists, and many attendees wouldn’t otherwise think to come to Pittsburgh. With this in mind, the chief goal for everyone involved the planning is to knock the socks off of the attendees.

“Hosting a convention like this is an incredibly collaborative undertaking,” Davis said, citing great support from civic organizations, businesses, hotels and county and city officials. VisitPITTSBURGH will host the opening reception at the Convention Center as well as the closing reception at Heinz Field, Davis said.

“We want to show the PCMA attendees that we know how to execute a convention.”

Besides, Pittsburghers know how to throw a party, and we know a thing or two about winning Super Bowls, too. More importantly, we know what it’s like to be cool.

Welcome to Pittsburgh, PCMA.

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