I just read an article in Crane’s saying that, despite the new reforms voted in by the Illinois General Assembly last year, it’s back to business as usual at McCormick Place. The article is lengthy and you are encouraged to read it. First, here are a couple of highlights – or rather lowlights – to ponder.
“A three-month Crain’s investigation finds questions of profit and fairness clouding the future of McCormick Place, the linchpin of a Chicago convention industry that generates $8 billion in annual spending and supports 66,000 jobs.
“In 2009, when some big trade shows left or threatened to leave Chicago over price-gouging and labor practices at McCormick Place, lawmakers rushed through legislation imposing wage cuts and work-rule changes on unions at the convention center.
“But labor represents a relatively small share of exhibitors’ costs at McCormick Place. The reforms required no meaningful concessions from trade associations or a pair of show contractors that continue to squeeze exhibitors, who already bear most of the costs of conventions.
“Freeman and Global Experience Specialists Inc., which handle three out of four McCormick Place shows, still charge the same high rates exhibitors cite as their No. 1 complaint.
These charges are higher at McCormick Place than at some other convention centers, including Rosemont’s.”
So, some of the rules surrounding labor were changed, but exhibitors are being gouged in other multitudinous ways… I read on.
“And then there are the exhibitors, which pay the associations for floor space, the venue for food and parking, and the general contractors for constructing booths, wiring equipment, connecting plumbing and moving exhibit materials in and out of the convention center. All of these services are marked up, often substantially.
“Exhibitors draw the short straw in this financial arrangement, hoping they will generate enough sales leads to justify the enormous costs.”
The message is that (as they say) they get you coming and going. Don’t get me wrong; everyone has the right to earn a living. But what exhibitors and others throughout the exhibition industry want to see is fair play. They don’t want to feel as if they were mugged every time they wrap things up at a tradeshow.
Have a peek at the article for yourself, and let me know what you think of all this. Read the article online. It’s called “Contractors, trade associations squeeze convention exhibitors at McCormick Place.”