By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Landing one of the largest conventions in the nation is adding to the momentum that the Pennsylvania Convention Center is building, after dealing with previous hassles meeting-planners had in setting up booths and annoying labor costs.

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With a new outside management team running the facility, the West Conshohocken based SMG, and union work-rule changes that give exhibitors more flexibility, the decline in bookings has reversed.

SMG Senior Vice President Bob McClintock points to the latest announcement, that the American Heart Association is coming in 2019, along with its 25,000 delegates.:

“American Heart is one of those signature events that everyone looks at,” McClintock says, “and their meeting-planning team is incredibly well respected.”

American Heart is expected to fill over 51,000 total hotel room nights and generate more than $67-million in economic impact for the Philadelphia region.

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Officials say in 2019, for example, the number of major conventions – those with more than 2000 folks attending – is at 18, the most since the 20 they had in 2013.

McClintock says they also have an aggressive short-term sales effort to focus on corporate and regional business, which fills hotel rooms, restaurants, stores, and taxi-cabs.

By the end of this year, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau anticipates a 20% increase in new bookings, as a result of the changes at the convention center.

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