Energy-related events boost Pittsburgh's convention business
A series of energy-related meetings and conferences held in Pittsburgh in recent years has helped not only hotels and restaurants.
Jim Schuster said business at his Crystal River Gems store in Fifth Avenue Place picks up noticeably when groups of engineers and other science professionals stay in hotels Downtown, such as for this week's DUG East Conference and Exhibition with about 3,000 attendees. The conference focuses on the Marcellus shale natural gas industry.
Tourism promotion agency VisitPittsburgh said on Thursday that from the gas industry alone, it has hosted 13 conferences since 2009. Another seven events are booked through 2014, VisitPittsburgh said, estimating direct spending from past and future events at a total of $35.5 million.
At Crystal River, engineers, geologists and mining professionals tend to stop in, particularly on the final day of a conference when there are fewer programs.
“Maybe that's because we sell rocks, fossils and minerals — and those coordinate with the things they like,” said Schuster, who also sells jewelry in the store that has operated in Fifth Avenue Place for almost a decade.
The DoubleTree by Hilton's 335 rooms are full all this week with Hart Energy conference attendees.
“That was a great booking that did really well for all the Downtown hotels,” said Tim Zugger, the general manager and president of the Greater Pittsburgh Hotel Association.
“There have been several really nice, citywide conventions that have focused on the energy business this year,” Zugger said.
They benefit Downtown businesses, he said, although suburban hotels benefit more from extended stays by energy professionals, who want to be closer to drilling sites and other outlying operations.
The current DUG event with more than 300 exhibitors has the highest of eight total meetings that Hart Energy Publishing of Houston has hosted in the city since 2009, and it will generate $1.4 million in direct spending and account for 3,250 room nights at local hotels, VisitPittsburgh said. The tourism agency also said conferences built around technology are drawing more interest because they can feature relevant energy-related programs.
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers signed up 5,900 attendees for its annual meeting Oct. 28 to Nov. 2 in the city, exceeding early estimates, although not all showed up because of complications from Hurricane Sandy, VisitPittsburgh spokeswoman Connie George said.
Jeff Wood, the institute's meetings director, said energy-related professionals and resources in the region “allowed us to increase the number of technical sessions offered.”
Other factors are the universities close by, and Pittsburgh's reputation as a convention destination, he said.
The chemical engineers are estimated to have spent more than $8 million, VisitPittsburgh said.
“We expect the energy sector and related industries to continue to be strong convention customers,” VisitPittsburgh CEO Craig Davis said, citing natural gas, coal, green energy and other businesses in the region.
George said VisitPittsburgh has a sales representative whose task is to bring in energy-related conferences.
Seventeen event planners are touring the city this week, including some from fields related to energy, and the agency has an 80 percent success rate of signing events based on such visits.
Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ross brothers ordered to pay fine, remove debris from Christmas display
- Alle-Kiski Valley roundup: Riverview volleyball outs Chartiers-Houston
- SUV crashes into house in Sheraden
- Justice blames feud for his ouster; chief of court admits he did seek to remove him
- State law complicates Allegheny County proposal for letter grading of restaurants
- Former mayor dedicated to community, ‘children’
- House 58th District seat candidates focus on education, taxes
- Rossi: Fleury is, and will remain, Penguins’ soul
- Testing legs, giving backup goalie a chance are Penguins’ priorities
- Steelers film session: Watt kept under control
- Bill Clinton to campaign in Pittsburgh for Pa. gubernatorial candidate