Event Venues

When a Convention Leaves Home

SECO International is breaking tradition by leaving its host city of Atlanta for the first time in 60 years.

In our October 2017 issue, Convene spoke with three bustling North American convention centers and their most dedicated clients about the benefits of holding an annual event at the same location year after year. But while planning its 2019 meeting in New Orleans — its first move outside Atlanta since 1957 — SECO International has discovered that exploring uncharted territory has its perks, too.

“Change is always a bit nerve-wracking, but so far, the [member] response has been very positive,” Elizabeth Taylor, executive director at SECO International told Convene.

Though the organization had been scouting other locations for future events, the announcement that Atlanta would host the 2019 Super Bowl — around the time SECO International typically holds its annual event — prompted SECO International to take one year away from its home base of 60 years before returning in 2020.

“As we evaluated opportunities, we felt that New Orleans offered not only an economical place to do business, but also provided a great backdrop for networking and celebrating with the industry,” Taylor explained.

Leaving a trusted location behind to move to a new one, even for just one year — requires “clear and thoughtful communication with our exhibitors to unmistakably explain the logistics, booth building requirements, shipping, new contacts, and planning,” Taylor said. “It’s just like packing for a big move. You have to understand the resources and put a plan in place to ensure the move goes smoothly.”

The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau has been working with event organizers to make sure that when the time comes, SECO International members feel right at home at this new location. “They have been incredibly welcoming,” Taylor said, “and were so easy to work with as we looked to finalize dates and other details around the contract.” In fact, she suspects that the new location will not only feel comfortable for attendees, but will inject new life into it.

“The show will continue to offer world-class education and preview cutting-edge technology,” Taylor said, “but the move gives us the opportunity to re-craft the show strategy to ensure that all aspects—education, exhibits and events—are in line with best practices, creating an experience that will guarantee both attendees and exhibitors an opportunity to build new relationships while strengthening existing ones.”

Casey Gale