By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new labor agreement at Philadelphia’s Convention Center is less than four months old, but officials say it’s having an impact on bookings.

“I’ve heard the term sleeping giant in reference to Philadelphia, that we finally got it right and we’ve now awakened,” says CEO John McNichol.

McNichol says four new conventions have been booked since the new Customer Satisfaction Agreement was signed by four unions, in May, eliminating some work rules that exhibitors had found cumbersome.

Convention and Visitors Bureau President Jack Ferguson says that was hurting bookings:

“What has always been the challenge is the elements of the cost– labor– and the hassle that goes with it.”

He says the new agreement is a game-changer and McNichol adds the word is spreading fast:

“This is a very incestuous industry so there’s only a handful of very large show contractors so the customer experience matters.”

The agreement, notably, was not signed in time by two unions– the teamsters and the carpenters– who continue to protest their exclusion from the center as a lock-out.

They declined comment, but one source says he doesn’t believe the agreement is the reason for any increase in business.


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