Orlando’s commitment to hosting safe and successful meetings despite the challenges of the pandemic indicate a robust recovery for the destination and a strong 2022.
Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) has hosted more than 60 live, in-person events since the beginning of the pandemic, showcasing for the industry how live events can be safely and successfully hosted in the destination.
The OCCC has a projected 103 in-person events lined up for 2021, with an estimated 952,808 attendees and $1.85 billion in economic impact for Orange County. Visit Orlando and the OCCC have also worked with groups to relocate more than a dozen events from other destinations, set to take place in 2021, which will generate more than 63,000 room nights and an economic impact of $124 million in new business.
“Our fall and winter calendar is packed, and we are looking at a very strong 2022,” said Mark Tester, executive director, OCCC, in a press release statement. “As the first convention center nationwide to release our safety guidelines, which enabled us to host modified conventions and events, we are grateful for the immense support that we have received from Orange County Government, our clients, stakeholders, employees and our community. We are proud to lead the region’s economic recovery.”
Since reopening for events in summer 2020, with enhanced safety and sanitation measures in place, Orlando became one of the first destinations to secure the GBAC Star accreditation for its convention center, airport, venues and several convention hotels. The destination also partnered with local healthcare system Orlando Health to pioneer a health concierge program that offers a variety of medical services such as providing counseling on health and safety plans and sourcing PPE for attendees.
The OCCC hosted Aviation Week Network’s 26th Annual MRO Americas event in late April, with a sold-out conference and more than 8,500 registered attendees. The live event was complimented by an online component, but more than 75 percent of attendees opted for the in-person experience.
“This week, MRO Americas hosted thousands of attendees in our North-South Building,” added Tester. “I saw firsthand how staggered attendance, proper social distancing through signage, floor stickers and safety protocols were implemented to create a safe and controlled gathering. We have a stellar reputation for customer service, flexibility, and doing the right thing. We also have great relationships with our clients and a supportive community that is focused on the health and safety of our guests.”
While in March, the Marine Industry Association of Central Florida hosted the return of the Orlando Boat Show at the OCCC, following a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic. The event boasted record attendance for its return, with the number of attendees up 66 percent from 2019.
“This was the best show we’ve ever had,” said Glenn Adams, Boat Max USA, in a press release statement. “We expected smaller attendance as our first show in more than a year in an indoor exhibit space, yet this was not the case this past weekend. What an amazing show!”