September 17, 2020

Polls show conventioneers are ready to get back to it

by Will Johnson, CEO of the Harris Poll

Since the pandemic struck Chicago six months ago, McCormick Place — the largest convention center in North America and an enormous economic engine for the region — has been a ghost town. But behind the scenes, the facility’s owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, recently was accredited to resume hosting in-person events, when the state allows. Trade show associations and exhibitors are likewise eager to get back to business.

The question is: Are the 1.5 million-plus visitors who used to come every year from far and wide to attend McCormick Place’s conventions, fairs, expositions and meetings ready to return?

A national survey just completed at the Harris Poll offers some uplifting news for everyone who depends on McCormick Place. While attendance may never fully rebound, most people who traveled to trade shows before the pandemic say they’ll be back. A third of respondents, in fact, say they’d be comfortable driving to an in-person confab immediately, and that vote of confidence rises to more than half if the convention site imposes risk-reducing requirements like face masks, temperature screening and social distancing.

Read the full article on the Chicago Tribune site here.