Philadelphia’s prestige as a meeting destination dates to 1774, when the Continental Congress assembled in Carpenter’s Hall. Centuries later, that reputation continues to thrive. The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) reported 2016 as its highest-ever convention booking year, having secured 713 events using 903,199 hotel room nights for future years.
Compared to 2015, the 2016 totals represent increases of 18.2 percent and 5.8 percent in the number of events and room nights secured, respectively. In total, the meetings, conventions and events booked in 2016 are estimated to generate $1.3 billion in economic impact for Philadelphia and the region.
PHLCVB cites two factors behind the record-breaking bookings. A renewed cooperative spirit among SMG, the PCCA and the labor unions working at Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC) translated to improved operations and service. The center’s most recent major expansion—a $786 million public works project completed in 2011—also increased customers’ interest in the facility.
“We are extremely proud of our teams at the PHLCVB and the PCC, who have done significant work to secure both new groups and those who in previous years had said they would not return to Philadelphia,” said PHLCVB President and CEO Julie Coker Graham. “As our Center, our labor unions and SMG continue to cultivate a strong customer-focused environment, Philadelphia can continue to look forward to a robust convention calendar for years to come.”
Bookings secured last year constitute 28 citywide events, including the 2019 and 2025 National School Boards Association (NSBA) Annual Conference, the 2022 American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery/American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASCRS/ASOA) Annual Symposium & Congress, and the 2026 Leading Age Annual Meeting & Expo. The NSBA represents new business for Philadelphia. ASCRS/ASOA and Leading Age last met in the City of Brotherly Love before the PCC expansion.
Citywide conventions represent the primary influence over hotel room demand in Philadelphia. In 2016, this segment of the market helped propel the city to a record-breaking hotel occupancy rate of 78 percent.
Nearly 70 percent of room nights secured for future years by 2016 bookings correspond to meetings and conventions to be held at PCC. Meetings at regional hotels and other venues account for the remaining 30 percent.
“We are immensely pleased with the positive strides being made by both the PHLCVB and the PCC,” said Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association (GPHA) president Greg Stafford. “We feel confident that Philadelphia is on the right track and are looking forward to another terrific year.”
Projections estimate that conventions and events booked by PHLCVB will generate more than 620,000 room nights and over $900 million in economic impact for Philadelphia in 2017. Marquee events convening in Philadelphia this year include the NFL Draft, Lightfair International, and the National Black MBA Association Conference and Exposition.