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Cleveland’s I-X Center Loosens Grip on Trade Show Contractors

Sandi Cain
, Senior News Editor
January 29, 2018
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Cleveland — The International Exposition (I-X) Center near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is among the Top 10 convention centers in the U.S. in terms of space with 1,050,000 square feet of prime exhibit space, 51,900 square feet of meeting space and 26 breakout rooms along with an onsite full-serve decorating department. Yet it has sometimes struggled to land trade shows due to its exclusive work rules that prevented shows from using their own contractors. 

Starting in 2018, that restriction has been removed and the I-X Center will allow show organizers to use their own general contractors to set up a show. 

“We’ve talked about this for years,” said Travis Poppell, Director of Sales, “and have come to the conclusion that restrictions about contractors limited our business opportunities.” 

Now the former exclusive, onsite decorating department will become an adjunct of sorts to support whatever general contractor a show brings along. 

“The business model has changed with trade shows,” Poppell said. “Some shows have long-term contracts with certain contractors in different cities,” he said. Up until now, the I-X Center often lost potential business when organizers learned they couldn’t use their usual contractor, he added. 

What’s more, because the I-X Center had a full-service department of its own, those supplies and services now will be available to rent onsite for organizers who prefer to do that instead of trucking all their supplies in. Poppell said the I-X Center also has a fully equipped sign shop and graphics department that will remain onsite to assist incoming shows as needed. “We still have the amenities of the service and equipment on property,” he said. 

Though using those services and supplies will now be a choice, not a mandate, some show producers have called it a “safety net” for last-minute changes or additional supplies. 

Claire Anter, Director of Marketing for the IX Center, said they will promote this new policy through digital means via a press release and ad drops targeting planners and trade shows. The I-X Center also is working with the Cleveland Visitors & Convention Bureau to get the word out about the major shift at the center.

Poppell said the I-X Center will heavily target the Midwest initially — particularly focusing on shows that need or want a change and those that are outgrowing their current facilities. “There’s a definite market out there,” he said.

Reach Travis Poppell at (216) 265-2673 or tpoppell@ixcenter.com; Claire Anter at clairev@ixcenter.com 

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