James E. Rooney
The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
is waging an aggressive campaign to attract medical and
biotechnical groups to fill the Boston Convention and Exhibition
Center, which opened in June 2004.
Bookings at the center have lagged behind projections made by
consultants in the mid-1990s that had the facility hosting 34 large
conventions in its opening year. James E. Rooney, executive
director of the MCCA, recently dismissed those estimates as
“unfair” and “outlandish.”
The center has hosted approximately 100 events since it opened
and has another 100 booked through 2017, of which only 35 are
considered “large,” meaning they occupy at least one-third of the
available exhibit space. Rooney hopes the new marketing campaign
will help the facility reach a “stabilized rate” of 36 large
conventions annually by 2009.
The MCCA spent $48,000 in the second quarter of this year on
direct mailings and ads in medical and trade magazines, extolling
the Northeast as “unparalleled” in its concentration of top-tier
hospitals, medical schools and research centers.
The ads tout statistics by Boston-based research firm McKinsey
and Co., such as in 2003, 295,000 physicians worked within a
two-hour flight of Logan International Airport.
Lisa M. Sykes, director of meetings for the American
Association of Neurological Surgeons, said before the new
convention center opened, she would not have considered Boston for
her events. But when AANS recently won the bid to host the
quadrennial convention for its international parent organization,
the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies, in 2009 a meeting
that hasn’t been held in the United States since 1969 Sykes didn’t
hesitate to choose Boston.
Rooney added that medical conclaves already account for fully
35 percent of all conventions held in Boston.