Architects, 'Antiques Roadshow' top stronger convention lineup
By Jacquelyn Weiner
Thanks to repeat bookings and some notable new business, Miami-Dade's convention traffic is projected to be stronger this summer.
Convention business "has been fabulous" in the first quarter and has "stabilized compared to last year," said Ita Moriarty, senior vice president of convention sales at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
This summer, the "Miami Beach Convention Center is going to have a very steady occupancy and some new pieces of business," Ms. Moriarty said.
Among the most notable is the American Institute of Architects' 2010 National Convention June 10-12, expected to bring in about 20,000 visitors.
This is the first time the architects' convention has come to Miami-Dade, Ms. Moriarty said.
"That is the biggie," she said.
Other new business includes the International Floriculture Expo June 22-25, expected to draw more than 5,000 attendees.
And on the corporate side, she said, Advantage Business Systems is expected to have 3,600 attend its conference June 23-25.
In addition, Ms. Moriarty said, repeat shows are to help supplement summer convention traffic:
Shoe Market of the Americas comes to the Miami Beach Convention Center June 27-29, expected to bring 3,000 delegates.
And the Florida International Medical Exposition is expected to draw 5,000 delegates Aug€. 11-13.
Medical and pharmaceutical convention business has been "holding pretty strong nationally," Ms. Moriarty said.
Another component to Miami-Dade's convention sales is international draw, she said.
Recent conventions have seen "record-breaking international attendance" when they came here, she said.
The American Academy of Dermatology, which held its 2010 conference in Miami Beach in March, has its "highest-ever attendance in 68 years" of 19,538.
This was due in part to an increase in international attendance, she said, also the highest in the organization's history.
"That just shows the brand is incredibly strong," she said.
While many conventions use a Miami-Dade location as a selling point, one upcoming event may actually help promote the county, Ms. Moriarty said.
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series "Antiques Roadshow" is coming to the Miami Beach Convention Center July 10.
"That has a huge following," Ms. Moriarty said. And "there's definitely a marketing and TV component."
"Antiques Roadshow" features people who bring in items for appraisal on the show's tour stops.
Now in its 15th year, the series has been the No. 1 show on PBS since 1998, said Judy Matthews, senior publicist for the series.
Up to 6,400 guests can attend a taping of "Antiques Roadshow," Ms. Matthews said, although tickets are sold out for the Miami Beach taping.
About 75 appraisers are to be on site, some from major auction houses, she said, who will give an "opinion of value" on a maximum of two objects per attendee.
If they find a particularly interesting piece, they wave a producer over and pitch the item for the show.
If chosen, producers usher the appraiser and guest into a green room to be taped.
Of the almost 13,000 objects appraised in a day-long "Antiques Roadshow" stop, Ms. Matthews said, about 80 appraisals are taped and about 50 make it to TV.
In addition, scenes of the destination are included in each episode.
"We always do an establishing shot of the convention center," Ms. Matthews said.
And that's positive exposure, said Jeff Rugg, marketing manager with Global Spectrum at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
"It's a great sell for the destination and the venue," Mr. Rugg said.
Attendees also frequent area businesses, he said, generating local economic impact:
"That's really what we're here for."