Talking Convention Center Trends with Bob McClintock, Executive Vice President of Convention Centers, ASM Global

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Talking Convention Center Trends with Bob McClintock, Executive Vice President of Convention Centers, ASM Global

As trade shows and conferences continue their regular face-to-face return, convention centers happily welcome event attendees. However, for the events industry and the myriad of venues that support it, the post-pandemic era has not proven to mean back to business as usual. Attendees’ priorities have changed, and it’s not just show organizers who must work harder than ever to attract audiences to their events, venues must also adapt, working harder and faster to meet the needs constantly changing to fill their exhibition halls and meeting rooms.

To understand the latest and greatest trends impacting the convention venue landscape, TSNN turned to an expert: Bob McClintock, Executive Vice President of Convention Centers for Global ASM. Read on to get his take on the trends the leading venue management company and producer of live experiences is experiencing right now and how it’s working to meet those needs across its more than 300 venues around the world.

What are the biggest trends you see in the convention facility landscape right now?

Meetings, conventions and exhibitions are back, and our venues have adapted as today’s planners and organizers are tasked with making their events more engaging and dynamic than ever. Attendees value networking over almost every other aspect. In response, our venues offer creative spaces, unique room designs, and custom catering options to deliver a personalized event program. Data reveals that 35% of the workforce is made up of millennials, forcing our venues and event organizers to create more valuable experiences. Today’s generation of meeting goers don’t want to be ushered into a ballroom to sit and listen.

Trends include new event concepts and meetings with meaning, innovation and insight, emphasizing the customer journey from pre-arrival to time spent at destination. Attendees make their decisions to attend based on destination and incorporating vacation time, while attendees and exhibitors make decisions to attend events in a much shorter timeframe. While this poses challenges for venues to accommodate last minute requests, the upside is that more attendees come to our venues.

What are some of the most important sustainability trends you’re seeing in convention venues, and what are some of the most innovative ways ASM Global is leading the charge?

The effort to eliminate single-use plastics (straws, bottles, etc.) is front and center for our customers and event planners. Many sites are switching from water stations to permanent bottle filling stations and using recycled boxes instead of plastic for water.

Facilities continue to work with partners and customers to increase diversion rates, so landfills are not filled with unnecessary waste. More and more buildings are adopting or planning green roofs to be more sustainable. Some of this space is reclaimed for urban gardens that produce local fruits and vegetables for catered events.

Our customers and event organizers expect sustainability to be a top priority at our venues. ASM Global has partnered with Honeycomb Strategiesa sustainability consultant who works with some of the most iconic organisations, events, venues and destinations, helping them assess venues and develop a roadmap to achieve their sustainability goals.

ASM Global is proud to have over 40 certified green sites. In addition, 42 of our convention centers have achieved LEED Platinum, Gold or Silver status. For example, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh achieved its LEED Platinum certification.

We realize corporate responsibility is good business, and ASM Global’s bold corporate social responsibility platform, WSA World Proceedingspowerfully reinforces our commitment to investing in people, protecting the environment and strengthening communities around the world.

Additionally, the ASM Global Acts Foundation supports philanthropic and community efforts guided by its sustainability and diversity foundation. The ASM Global Acts Fellowship aims to serve diverse and underresourced communities with educational and career development opportunities.

What are some of the biggest changes you’re seeing with convention centers as the industry emerges from the pandemic?

The expectations of event attendees have evolved in terms of technology, and we are committed to improving the customer experience. ASM Global has added 5G to most of its sites. For example, the Puerto Rico Convention Center offers unparalleled connectivity on the 5G architecture, providing a seamless experience for the duration of the event.

ASM Global has entered into a strategic partnership with Qualtrics, the leader in experience management (XM) platforms, to launch ASM Global Insights, which is designed to collect instant feedback from attendees, helping venues and organizers deliver exactly what attendees want. The tool tracks data points throughout the customer journey, informing management to improve the overall customer experience.

How does ASM Global keep health and safety at the forefront?

As we move away from the more restrictive COVID protocols put in place at the start of the pandemic, we are still seeing customers expecting improved levels of sanitation, even as social distancing and masking requirements have been relaxed.

ASM Global has enlisted top health experts from around the world to guide the company in formulating an effective program to protect attendees, staff and exhibitors. This mission-critical endeavor resulted in the development of ASM Global’s industry-leading and acclaimed solution VenueShield program, which was launched in April 2020, just a month after the start of the pandemic. Since then, we have continued to focus on providing groups with the utmost confidence to produce positive experiences across the ASM Global network of sites.

In addition to VenueShield, many of our sites have won GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation. We are committed to working with our site owners and meticulously following local requirements to keep communities safe in the destinations we serve.

Have your sites experienced persistent staffing issues, and if so, how are you helping to fill the gaps?

Yes! Adjusting salaries to keep up with the current market is key to retaining and attracting talent. ASM Global successfully hosted a global virtual job fair to provide opportunities for people across our portfolio of locations. In the short term, we will continue to work with suppliers, partners and other parties to source talent and implement cross-training to increase productivity. We share resources and talent between our sites and have successfully looked outside the industry to attract new site management candidates. It is expected that as the pandemic recedes and supply chains become more reliable, the workforce will follow. To retain and train talent, we launched the ASM Global Academy, which offers 1,800 multilingual courses to improve team member skills and reinvent the customer experience.

How is your company raising the bar for DEI in convention centers?

ASM Global is raising the bar with DEI’s efforts by focusing on the best ways to attract a more diverse candidate pool when sourcing candidates for positions at all levels of the company. We create equitable access to opportunity and advancement by recognizing and minimizing the barriers some face in the workplace. Our workforce is constantly growing and we are committed to identifying key talent to fill our vacancies and creating opportunities for team members to feel a real sense of belonging and value within ASM Global.

We also encourage inclusive practices through our onboarding and training programs, our open communication policy, our multicultural and recognition celebrations, and dedicated company-wide education. unconscious bias, workplace safety, mental health and other related topics.

How does ASM Global design the convention centers of the future?

The convention center of the future will embrace technology to enhance the guest experience. Ideas that once seemed futuristic like entering a concession area, picking up your items, and having the bill sent directly to your credit card are not far from becoming reality. The opportunities are endless and ASM Global wants to leverage what we learn from around the world to improve the customer experience for organizers, exhibitors and attendees.

With an unparalleled commitment to innovation, we have partnered with companies that will elevate all aspects of site-level service delivery for our customers, stakeholders and owners. Partnerships with DoorDash, Clorox, Honeywell, mobilitie, Anthony James Partners and Qualtrics reinforce our commitment.

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