There are many choices for your next meeting spot. But none like gracious Savannah, and her award-winning International Trade & Convention Center. From heads of state to the nation’s fastest growing companies, our many satisfied customers share one common element: success.
Spectacular views of Savannah and its ever changing riverscape, the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, like the proud and elegant city it represents, blends the best of the old South with the new to offer a unique and memorable venue for your next successful meeting, tradeshow or special event.
A superbly functional, architecturally stunning 330,000 sq. ft gleaming waterfront complex on the historic Savannah River features 100,000 sq. ft. of divisible exhibit space, 50,000 sq. ft. of prime meeting space, including 13 meeting rooms, four executive board rooms, a 25,000 sq. ft. Grand Ballroom, and a state-of-art 367 seat auditorium.
Jul 9, 2015
Trade Center Strong Finish
Savannah, GA (July 9, 2015) The Savannah International Trade and Convention Center is projected to close out fiscal 2015 with strong hotel/motel tax revenues and an unusually profitable month for water transportation, said Stephan Hall, trade center director of finance, on Wednesday before the Georgia International & Maritime Trade Center Authority board.
Hall said operating numbers for the year ending last month are expected to beat budget projections by nearly $86,000.
“June was an unusually good month for the water ferries, with a projected net profit of $47,051 compared to an expected loss of $9,280,” Hall said.
Event sales, transportation district funding and support from the city of Savannah all converged to produce the exceptional month in water transportation, he said.
The water ferries are expected to end the year $115,158 unfavorable to budget, he said, with ongoing ferry operating costs the main budget-busting culprit.
“The boats themselves are very durable, but the engines that power them are more than a decade old and aren’t even in production any more,” said Bob Coffey, trade center general manager.
Ridership is up, which means increased maintenance costs, he said.
Hotel/motel revenue is nearly $300,000 higher than expected for the year, with numbers skyrocketing in May and June with some numbers for last month still unreported.
Those receipts, coupled with a lower building deficit and savings on consulting fees, should offset the higher ferry costs to end the year more than $300,000 favorable to budget, Hall said.
With Authority Chairman Mark Smith out of town, Coffey tabled discussions of trade center expansion options.
At its last meeting, the board agreed to Smith’s request to hire Bill Moeckel, of Moeckel and Co., to look into scenarios that could increase convention business.
In other business, the trade center board also voted to retain its current slate of officers for the coming year: Mark V. Smith, chairman; Ben Polote Jr., vice chairman; George Jackson, secretary; and Dennis Baxter, treasurer.
Jul 7, 2015
Visit Savannah Number One!
Savannah, GA (July 7, 2015) Visit Savannah was chosen as No. 1 out of 100 must-follow destination marketing organizations (DMO) on social media by Betsy A. Decillis (BAD) Consulting, LLC, for the second consecutive quarter. Other destinations ranked in the top five include Visit Florida, Visit Austin, Tx., Travel Portland, Ore., and Brand USA.
"Our research shows us that more than 80 percent of travelers to Savannah use some form of social media to impact their travel buying decision to visit here. As a result, we have escalated the importance of our content marketing share-of-voice by dramatically increasing the staff and resources we dedicate to this space," said Joseph Marinelli, Visit Savannah president.
The rankings are decided by a method that incorporates the number of professionals following each organization and the organization’s Klout score.
"Having individual members of our team regularly rank high, as well as our overall team effort recognized in this way, is something that we take very seriously and are also very proud of," said Marinelli.
BAD Consulting also released a list of the most influential tourism professionals on Twitter, which included Visit Savannah’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Jeremy Harvey, at No. 25 and Social Media Manager, Lauren Cleland, at No. 22.
Apr 17, 2015
Mallary Taylor Joins PCMA Sponsorship Committee
Savannah, GA April 17, 2015) Mallary Taylor joins the Sponsorship Committee and is a Sales Manager for the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. With a Master’s Degree from Georgia Southern and having worked for the Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mallary brings a sales background and a wide network to the committee for which the Chapter was most in need. Having an experienced sales manager will lead to more sponsorship revenues that will help the SE Chapter of PCMA provide the highest levels of educational programing and networking opportunities for our members. Please welcome Mallary and let her know we are excited to have her talents.
Apr 16, 2015
Georgia Manufacturer of the Year
Savannah, GA April 16, 2015) Georgia Governor Nathan Deal presented Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation with the Georgia Manufacturer of the Year award in the large company category (more than 500 employees).
“Manufacturing represents a powerful piece of the Georgia mosaic, supplying our state with jobs and the world with goods,” said Gov. Deal during his keynote speech at the 20th annual Governor’s Awards Luncheon. “This is why I have made a point of supporting the manufacturers of our state.”
The company, which is headquartered in Savannah and has a manufacturing and service facility in Brunswick, won the award for its “commitment to employees, the community and the environment and its emphasis on education,” according to remarks read when the award was announced.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. is the world's leading manufacturer of technologically advanced business-jet aircraft.
In 1967, production of Gulfstream jets moved to Savannah, Georgia, where the company established its headquarters. The company has expanded repeatedly in Chatham County since then. In 2006, the company began a $400 million expansion, creating 1,500 new jobs. A second $500 million expansion launched in 2010 has resulted in an additional 2,500 new jobs and counting. And this year, Gulfstream announced plans to expand its Brunswick facility and hire an additional 100 employees.
From a start-up with 100 initial employees, today Gulfstream employs more than 9,000 in Savannah and more than 200 in Brunswick.
Since Gulfstream arrived in the 1960s, the workforce has helped drive the company's phenomenal growth. Today, the performance of Gulfstream's growing workforce is still essential to the company's continuing success. Partnerships with Savannah Technical College, Altamaha Technical College and Georgia Quick Start have helped ensure that quality workforce.
“Many of those new employees come from right here in Georgia, thanks to the partnerships we have with educational institutions around the state as well as Georgia Quick Start, which has been our partner in workforce training for close to two decades,” said Larry Flynn, president, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. “As I've always said, Gulfstream is a success because of two things: our people and our products. And that's the absolute truth. We have some of the best employees in the world. And this honor belongs to each and every one of them.”
Three manufacturers are chosen each year in categories based on the size of their employment. The other award winners were Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas in Monroe (151-500 employees), and Tucker’s ddFoodSolutions (150 or fewer employees).
The annual awards luncheon, held today in Atlanta, is the highlight of Georgia Manufacturing Appreciation Week, which is co-hosted by the Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Apr 7, 2015
Show Us Your Badge
Savannah, GA (April 7, 2015) Visit Savannah has launched a new program called “Show Us Your Badge,” which highlights Chamber member businesses in Savannah that offer a discount to meeting and convention attendees during their stay, according to Joe Marinelli, Visit Savannah president.
"The 'Show Us Your Badge' promotion aimed at helping Savannah Area Chamber members increase traffic to their businesses.
“A program like this can really help them because many of our conventions tend to happen in the early part of the week when traffic is slower versus on the busy weekends," explained Kim Rodenberg, Visit Savannah destination services manager.
Participating businesses have a “Show Us Your Badge” sticker placed in their storefronts and are included on promotional materials that are distributed to meetings and conventions attendees.
Meeting and convention attendees are able to go to these stores and show their convention badge to receive the discount on the products they purchase. Discounts offered vary from $5 to 15 percent off a product, tour or service, and last for the calendar year.
"With more large conventions coming to Savannah, meeting planners are looking for promotions and perks like this for their attendees,” said Marinelli. “We believe that if we can convert more convention-goers into shoppers and diners, we increase the likelihood of those folks making return visits in the future."
Feb 12, 2015
Savannah International Trade & Convention Center Study
Savannah, GA (February 12, 2015) The Savannah International Trade and Convention Center has received a draft copy of the $100,000 feasibility study it commissioned to examine the best way to add more convention hotel rooms on Hutchinson Island, trade center chairman Mark V. Smith told his board Wednesday.
But Smith had a few questions about some of the things that were in the report — and some that were not.
“This is a complicated report with a lot of moving parts. And, in looking through it, we found some technical errors – numbers regarding this building’s past performance that weren’t exactly correct,” Smith said. “Also, there are a couple of mathematical calculations that we wanted to see addressed that aren’t in there.”
Reluctant to disburse a draft that he considered incomplete, Smith said the report would go back to PKF Hospitality Research of Atlanta for the necessary modifications and come back before the board at a meeting March 5.
“The PKF consultant could not be with us today, which is another reason we thought it best to wait until he could be here to walk us through this very detailed study,” he said.
As they look to attract and accommodate larger groups, both the trade center and the Westin Savannah Harbor are studying the best way to add 300 hotel rooms on Hutchinson Island. Possibilities include building a freestanding hotel on property west of the trade center or expanding the Westin.
The trade center, encouraged by its numbers and requests from larger convention groups, commissioned PKF in July to conduct a study
that would look at expansion of the trade center, the addition of 300 hotel rooms and an overall strategic plan for convention business in Savannah.
“One thing we have already determined is that we can’t really address expanding the building until we know where we are going with the hotel rooms,” Smith told the board last year. “Once that’s established, we can begin to move forward with a plan.”
In addition to determining whether a new hotel or an expansion of the Westin would be preferable, the study also examines three expansion possibilities for the trade center.
The most ambitious would double meeting and exhibit space at the trade center and add another ballroom for approximately $150 million.
The second scenario would double exhibit space and add a smaller ballroom for $90 million, and a third proposal would increase exhibit space by 50 percent while adding a second ballroom and eight additional meeting rooms for $50 million.
Deciding on how best to expand the room base on the island will need to be the authority’s highest priority for this year, Smith said, adding that information from the study will provide a platform for discussions with the mayor, city manager, Chatham County officials and other stakeholders.
New battleship model on loan
In other business, the board welcomed the newest addition to the trade center’s growing collection of ship models.
The USS Texas, launched in May 1912, was one of two New York class battleships authorized by Congress in 1910. When war erupted in Europe in 1914, the Texas and its sister ship, the New York, joined the fray as the world’s most modern battleships.
The most powerful battleship of her time, the Texas was part of a squadron that landed a force of 800 Marines and seamen at Vera Cruz that year to protect U.S citizens.
After serving with Britain’s Grand Fleet in the North Sea, the Texas escorted President Woodrow Wilson to France in 1919 for the Paris Peace Conference.
During World War II, the Texas participated in the Battle of the Atlantic. She also participated in the Allied invasion of North Africa, using her powerful 14-inch guns in combat for the first time.
The battleship also participated in the D-Day Invasion, pounding German coastal positions near Pointe Du Hoc from some 12,000 yards offshore.
Transitioning to the Pacific Fleet in 1945, the Texas went on to participate in the invasions of both Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The 6-foot-long model of the Texas was hand-crafted by Edwin B. Feldman of Atlanta, 90, who recently donated it to the Tybee Island Maritime Academy, which has placed it on loan to the trade center collection.
Jan 23, 2015
Savannah Sees Record Convention Bookings
Savannah, GA (January 23, 2015) From historic preservationists to county commissioners to multi-colored sneaker-wearing marathon runners, the halls and conference rooms of the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center overflowed with activity last year.
That trend will likely continue, according to a new report.
Destination marketing organization Visit Savannah released its year-end report Friday confirming 2014 as its strongest future convention bookings year on record. Total hotel room bookings in 2014 amounted to 202,780, an increase of nearly 20 percent from the previous year, which had 169,383 room nights.
Visit Savannah President Joseph Marinelli attributed the growth to a number of factors, including an improving economy, increased marketing and, in particular, Savannah’s rising reputation.
“Savannah’s growing popularity as a visitor destination helps us,” he said. “We like to trumpet all these accolades … imagine if you are a convention planner and you’re sitting on an airplane and open up a magazine and see Savannah listed as a top destination. I think that growing awareness helps the decision makers.”
Another boost has been the availability of hotel rooms. Of the approximately 5,000 hotel rooms within the Historic District, the big four hotel chains — The Westin, Hyatt Regency, Marriott and Hilton Desoto — can usually commit about 1,000-1,500 to a convention.
Marinelli said he and his team meet every fall with the leadership of these hotels and the convention center to get on the same page about what times of year are slower, and then they orchestrate efforts to lure more conventions year-round.
“When a convention planner makes the final decision for where they’re going to go, they’re looking at it from a couple of perspectives — do they have the hotels rooms, do they have the facilities to meet our requirements and is it an affordable for us to go to?” he said.
He said the addition of new retail on Broughton Street and new restaurants adds to the sell. Convention planners try to pick desirable destinations because these gatherings are typically their biggest revenue source of the year. The bigger the attendance, the better their revenue stream. The National Trust for Historic Preservation had its annual conference in November in Savannah, its first time back since 1998, attracting more than 2,000 attendees.
Looking to the future, top bookings include the 2015 edition of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon and the June 2018 annual meeting of the National Beta Club. Meanwhile, the American College of Nurse Midwives is having its convention for the first time in Savannah in May 2018.
Compared to when he started eight years ago, Marinelli said, Savannah is booking far more national associations than it used to.
“It used to be all Georgia associations, and today, you see five of the 10 bookings are national groups,” he said. “We still have all of that business, but our sales effort is much more diversified today.”
Together, the top 10 future bookings of 2014 are projected to generate $19.5 million in visitor spending over the next few years, according to Visit Savannah.
In addition to a staff of seven dedicated to convention and sports bookings, Marinelli’s budget for this area has increased 8-10 percent over each of the last two years. He said this helps them spread the word about Savannah even farther.
“We’re doing more social media in the meetings and convention space, more electronic marketing to meeting and convention planners and because our budget has grown, we’re able to go to more industry trade shows,” he said.