Oceanside, CA – Convention centers worldwide continue to grow in number, size, technology, and other offerings, according to the just-released 2015 edition of the Trade Show Executive World’s Top Convention Centers (WTCC) directory, which lists a total of 604 convention centers from the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Center in Scotland to the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Company Exhibition Centre in southern Africa.
The fastest-growing region is the Asia-Pacific market, which continues to grow by leaps and bounds, according to the WTCC. In the past year alone, exhibition centers in that region grew 15% to nearly 41 million square feet (sf) of prime exhibit space. China leads the way in this region with 34 facilities, while Australia offers a dozen centers now, with a handful in the works for future business.
North America still boasts the lion’s share of convention centers with 52% (314) of the world’s total, while the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region now has 15% of the total with 90 centers, the WTCC found. Europe, the Middle East, South America and other regions account for one-third (200) of the total.
The 255 U.S. facilities alone offer more than 57 million square feet of prime exhibit space in North America. Canada clocks in with 25 venues and nearly 7 million square feet, while Mexico checks in with 34 and 5.4 million square feet.
Nine of the U.S. convention centers qualified for Trade Show Executive’s Millionaire’s Club — an exclusive group of convention centers that offer one million or more square feet of prime exhibit space. The largest of those top-notch centers are McCormick Place in Chicago and the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. That prestigious club will gain a new member when the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas tops the 1 million sf mark this Fall with its 350,000 sf addition of exhibit space.
In the close space race, California leads the WTCC rankings with 22 trade show venues of varying sizes, followed by Florida and Nevada with 20 each, and then Texas with 19. However, in total exhibit space, Nevada leads the nation with 6,199,711 sf. California is second with 5,169,422 sf.
Budding Trends Apparent
While the amount of exhibit space grows, other trends have emerged and are becoming increasingly important among convention center offerings.
One such trend noted in the WTCC is that convention centers worldwide are taking a new look at their role as economic engines for their cities. That has led to a growth of campus-style convention centers that embrace integrating the facilities with shopping, dining, cultural, and entertainment activities that can serve the local market as well as visiting groups. Such efforts already are de rigueur in the U.S. and are increasingly being embraced by the international community, including the Amsterdam RAI Convention Center.
Sustainability and technological prowess are becoming more influential in site selection and design, with the expanding use of the “green roof” to include such things as fauna, beehives and organic gardens.
On the technology front, wireless Internet is becoming a necessity and competition to have the fastest service is widespread. The splashiest recent Wi-Fi news came from Cleveland as that city prepares for the Republican National Convention later this year. New fiber optics and other Wi-Fi gear are being installed in and around the convention center for the event and will continue to benefit the city after that convention is long over.
New Feature on Exclusives
A new feature in the directory this year are data fields listing exclusive, recommended and/or open services at convention centers in the U.S. — a feature not found in any other industry directory.
The directory also expands upon the Labor Guide provided in last year’s WTCC, thanks to the efforts of the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA). The guide strives to help show organizers and managers navigate the oft-changing but important work rules and labor jurisdictions for each union at each venue.
The WTCC directory provides analysis about trends and detailed lists of exhibit and meeting space, convention center features, contacts and other data.
The main directory is posted online at www.tradeshowexecutive.com; however, the section on labor rules is only available to subscribers.
Contact Carri Jensen, manager of directories, at firstname.lastname@example.org