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September 26, 2017

Post-Irma, Miami Looks Ahead to Convention Center Revamp Debut

Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels & Co, welcomes Ruckus to Loews Miami Beach Hotel for their program post Hurricane Irma.
Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels & Co, welcomes Ruckus to Loews Miami Beach Hotel for their program post Hurricane Irma. 

Following the passage of Hurricane Irma in early September, Miami is looking to keep meeting planners booking the destination with a number of new leisure travel promotions and a spotlight on the upcoming debut of its revamped convention center. 

“We had an additional communications track with our full sales team, so, from day one after the storm, we were phone banking an reaching out to our customers and clients,” Rolando Aedo, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), tells International Meetings Review. 

All of the destination’s meeting hotels are operational and open for business, Aedo says, and the destination was hosting meetings as recently as the week of September 11, such as tech group Ruckus’ annual partner event at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. IMN also hosted its annual meeting at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

In terms of the Miami Beach Convention Center, Aedo says that the storm did not set back construction on the facility’s extensive renovation and modernization project, and that the revamped facility’s first major event is still on schedule for September 2018. That month the convention center will host the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) in the debut event for its new 60,000 square foot ballroom. Altogether, the $615 million investment will bring the facility to a total of more than 500,000 square feet of exhibit space, with the new ballroom, 81 new breakout rooms and a number of sustainability enhancements. 

“Obviously construction was paused for several days during the storm,” says Aedo. “It has resumed and we’re staying on track.”

Most of the events that had to be cancelled due to the storm were small and local, Aedo says, such as the South Florida Auto Show

“While it’s unfortunate because a lot of locals look forward to those types of events…those aren’t relevant to meeting planners or delegates,” Aedo says. 

Looking ahead, Aedo says that he expects area hotels to recover quickly from losses they sustained while closed for the evacuation. 

“We’re anticipating that we will quickly bounce back, and hotels will be back on solid footing in the coming weeks,” Aedo says. 

The destination is also hosting a #MiamiNow campaign aimed at drawing leisure travelers, although delegates will be able to take advantage of those deals while they’re in town. The promotion, which runs through October 31, combines six of the 12 GMCVB Temptations Programs: Miami Spice, Miami Spa, Miami Hotel, Miami Attractions, Miami Museums and Shop Miami Month, offering travelers a variety of deals they can take advantage of all month long. 

“We’re working with meeting planners and concierges to communicate that we have this program,” says Aedo. “Everyone’s a consumer once they’re in town.”

Looking ahead, Aedo says the destination plans to continue emphasizing its newly revamped convention center, which he describes as the destination’s “strongest sales pitch.” 

“Our Miami brand is a very powerful one,” says Aedo. “It’s a unique combination of tropical and cosmopolitan, and the fac that we’ll now have a world-class convention center is truly making a very compelling package.

A complete listing of all #MiamiNow offers is available at www.miamiandbeaches.com.

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