Phoenix Convention Center’s future is looking up

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Since the coronavirus outbreak, about 200 events at the Phoenix Convention Center, Symphony Hall and Orpheum Theater have been canceled or postponed. That includes 79 citywide conventions, representing more than 256,000 attendees and 326,000 hotel room nights. Phoenix estimates the lost conventions have cost 235 million dollars in direct visitor spending. There are also many employees who rely on conventions for their paychecks. Guest host Christina Estes spoke with Jerry Harper, Deputy Director at Phoenix Convention Center and Venues about future expectations.

Although the convention center hasn’t been busy with events, they have been busy with re-booking those events. Through partnerships with the sales team at Visit Phoenix and other teams at various Downtown Phoenix hotel partners, the convention center set a record and booked 72 events for future years on top of the rebooked events. According to Harper, of all the 52 event cancelations the Phoenix Convention Center saw in 2020, 22 events have rebooked. However, they’ve rebooked either later this year or in future years. “That’s been very encouraging for us because it shows that people are still enthusiastic about this destination,” Harper said. According to Harper, more groups have been interested in hybrid events to hold an event safely.

Great Recession vs COVID-19 Pandemic

Although Arizona was one of the hardest-hit economies during the Great Recession, according to Harper, it’s still different from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Harper says the pandemic hasn’t been a financial roadblock for groups, but instead a safety issue.

“Here at the convention center, we’re taking our employees’ safety into consideration and groups are doing the same exact thing for their employees and their attendees. Now, as opposed to waiting until they’re in a better position financially to meet, they’re just waiting for the destination to be able to accommodate and address all the safety precautions that are required to move forward safely. ” Harper said.

Jerry Harper, Deputy Director at Phoenix Convention Center and Venues

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