I finally decided to write what I definitely know about. I’m concerned about The South Shores Convention and Visitors Bureau / Lake County Indiana’s Convention Bureau proposed plans….
Convention centers have become a go-to project for many communities, with the hopes of turning them into a hub of economic activity. However, many of these efforts have fallen short of expectations. While some cities have managed to create a thriving convention center business, others have struggled to draw in visitors, leaving them financially burdened, draining resources, and ultimately failing. Here are the top five reasons why communities are not successful with convention centers.
The Location Factor
Perhaps the most critical factor for success is the location of the convention center. If it’s situated in a remote location or outside the city center, it’s already at a disadvantage. Convention centers require good accessibility, transportation, and nearby amenities to succeed. This includes easy access to public transport, hotels, restaurants, and attractions. If visitors are having trouble getting to the center or find little to do within walking distance, it’s unlikely they will return.
The size of a convention center determines its ability to accommodate visitors and events. Often communities are not successful with convention centers because they do not offer enough space or have limitations due to size. This restricts the community’s ability to attract large events, conferences, or trade shows that need more space. In these cases, event organizers will often look to bigger cities with larger venues to accommodate the event’s requirements.
Many convention centers that fail, do so because of poor management. The center may have started with a promising vision, but the management team fails to execute a well-thought-out and comprehensive plan. This can happen for several reasons; inadequate staffing, underfunding, or mismanagement of resources are a few examples. When convention centers are not managed correctly, this can lead to corruption, inefficiencies, and ultimately, financial failure.
Competition from other convention centers can also cause communities to fail in their efforts. Numerous cities have convention centers, and it’s easy for them to attract visitors to their events, especially if they have a well-established reputation. Cities must distinguish themselves if they intend to attract visitors and events. Doing so requires smart marketing, partnering with local businesses, and utilizing innovative technologies to differentiate themselves from competitors. Communities cannot count on visitors coming to them if they are not putting in the work to stand out from the crowd.
Overestimated Economic Benefits
Communities must be careful not to overestimate the economic benefits of a convention center. When this happens, it creates unrealistic expectations, leading to disappointment when the center fails to meet these expectations. Many communities tend to focus solely on the economic benefits of a convention center, such as job creation and increased tourism, while neglecting the necessary long-term planning essential to success. The center needs to be well-aligned with the community’s business and tourism objectives and must be managed effectively to turn revenue into economic benefits.
In conclusion, communities must continue to weigh the pros and cons of building convention centers before committing resources to these projects. Those who potentially undertake the endeavor must consider carefully critical factors like location, space, management capability, and competition, and not overestimate the potential benefits. With the necessary focus and strategic planning, communities can create successful convention centers that deliver lasting success. At its best, a convention center can act as a hub for driving economic prosperity and serving as a catalyst for positive community growth.
Here is a list of similar communities to Northwest Indiana that have failed with their efforts to produce a thriving convention center due to unrealistic forecasts of revenue and now the local taxpayers have to pay for it.
Fargo, North Dakota
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Atlantic City, New Jersey