CEIR White Paper Adds Industry Context to McCormick Place Debate

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Dallas, TX – The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) will release a white paper tomorrow that sets the record straight on the practices of the trade show industry not only at Chicago’s McCormick Place but at convention centers nationwide as well.

Written by CEIR President & CEO Doug Ducate, the six-page document entitled,  “Are We a Troubled Industry?,” fills in the information gaps that have created unfounded criticisms of the exhibition industry’s business model, pricing issues and treatment of customers.

Suspicions of price gouging by show organizers and service contractors were voiced by the unions serving McCormick Place, who floated the idea in the mainstream media that the lion’s share of the prices charged to exhibitors was the result of huge markups, not high union wages.

“The purpose of this paper is to correct the record regarding our business model and to illustrate how our business practices are not unique and, in fact, are practiced by virtually every industry,” Ducate wrote.

New light is shed on such factors as the significant up-front costs borne by show organizers, discounts for major exhibitors, and the efficiency of having a single general services contractor running things on the show floor.

The release of the white paper coincides with a July 26 meeting in Chicago called by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to work out a solution to the deadlock in the labor reforms at McCormick Place. The meeting will include representatives of the industry as well as state lawmakers and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Show organizers say the changes are vital to Chicago remaining a competitive trade show city. The Teamsters and Carpenters unions have thus far been able to block the changes in court based on their contention federal law requires changes in union contracts to come from negotiation rather than legislation.

However, an announcement from the Machinery Movers, Riggers & Machinery Erectors Local 136 on July 12 represented a potential turning point in the legal and political battle over the reforms that were instituted through state legislation. The Riggers union at Chicago’s McCormick Place reached agreement on a new contract with Freeman and Global Experience Specialists (GES) that includes the reforms to work rules that are being contested in court by two other unions. (See Trade Show Executive, July issue, page 6)

Reach Doug Ducate at (972) 687-9242 or dducate@ceir.org