Citing Reforms, HIMSS Convention Returns to Chicago

In November 2009, Chicago was left reeling when two major conventions announced they were moving their meetings to other, more affordable destinations. In response, Chicago initiated a coordinated citywide response that culminated in the May 2011 passage of landmark convention reform legislation by the Illinois legislature. Now, citing the success of reforms, one of the initial groups to leave the Windy City is returning to it, according to the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB), which last month announced that the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) will hold its Annual Conference & Exhibition in Chicago in 2015 and 2019.

"Chicago is a leader in medical technology and for HIMSS, our attendees and exhibitors, an excellent and accessible place to do business," said HIMSS President and CEO H. Stephen Lieber. "We are pleased to be back in Chicago, now one of the cities and the Midwest location in our conference rotation. With the [convention reforms] now in place, we look forward to HIMSS15 and HIMSS19 here in Chicago."

HIMSS made headlines in 2009, catalyzing convention reform in Chicago when it announced it was moving its 2012 convention from Chicago to Las Vegas, citing the high costs of meeting at Chicago's McCormick Place convention center. According to CCTB, the association is the first group to recommit to Chicago after pulling out of it, citing reforms as a key driver of its decision to return.

"This signing is a great way to propel our convention industry into another year of progress," said Jim Reilly, trustee of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), which owns McCormick Place. "2010 was a groundbreaking year and the reforms made it all possible. We are moving the momentum forward as we focus on ensuring our customers' continued success in the New Year and beyond."

In recent months, more than a dozen shows have signed with Chicago, according to CCTB. In November, for instance, Solar Power International — North America's largest business-to-business solar energy conference — announced it would meet in Chicago in 2013, attracting 27,000 attendees and generating $38 million in direct spending. In December, meanwhile, the American Society of Nephrology announced its annual meeting would take place in Chicago in 2016, attracting 14,000 attendees and generating more than $342 million in direct spending.

Last month, two more groups — the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) — agreed to meet in Chicago. PCMA's annual meeting will come to Chicago in 2015, bringing 3,600 attendees and generating $6.3 million in direct spending. Meanwhile, ASA's annual meeting is Chicago-bound in 2016, bringing 17,000 attendees and generating $42 million in direct spending.

"We are blazing a new trail for Chicago's convention industry, and we are finding opportunities for business at every step along the way," said CCTB Board Chair Bruce V. Rauner. "Shows once considered Chicago with a degree of trepidation. Now the reforms are reaping results, and people want to be back here."