An estimated 50,000 people will descend upon the Democratic National Convention (DNC) from July 25 to 28 in Philadelphia. The event is expected to cost the City of Brotherly Love around $60 million, but the city is expecting major returns—to the tune of $350 million.
According to Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, the DNC did not particularly spark new hotel development when the host city was announced in 2015. Center City Philadelphia is already home to 42 hotels in a walkable radius, representing 11,200 rooms and 68,000 hospitality jobs. However, Graham says the convention has prompted the city to become better acquainted with its local hotels and businesses as it prepares for the mad rush of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters—a much different group than when the RNC rolled through in 2000.
“We’ll be doing what we refer to as ‘pre-convention meeting’ and making sure that everyone is aware of the schedule and where the delegates and media will be, as well as making sure they are the hospitality ambassadors they say that they are,” Graham says. There are also several initiatives within Philadelphia’s business and restaurant communities tied to the convention. For example, the city is hosting a restaurant week to coincide with the event. There will be special menu items and pricing for delegates, residents, and businesses, encouraging attendees to try out one of Center City’s 958 food establishments after the event ends. Coker says small businesses have been growing rapidly in the city, as it has a strong startup scene and 93,000 small business owners.
Philadelphia is no stranger to hosting large gatherings. Home to the Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, and ’76ers, the city hosts sporting events all year round, many of which are hosted at the 21,000-capacity Wells Fargo Center, where most of the convention will be held. Additionally, Philadelphia benefits from having just hosted Pope Francis in September of last year. Graham says because of the recent large event, infrastructure and beautification enhancements around Wells Fargo Center, as well as the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where some related events will be held the week of the convention, were widely finished ahead of the DNC.
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Philly Preps for DNC
Sandra Heydt, director of sales and marketing for The Logan Hotel, an independent luxury property nestled in the heart of Center City, shares how the hotel staff plans to welcome DNC attendees.
“We have been sold out for almost a year with high-level DNC groups and top corporate individuals who are here for the convention. We’re hosting parties and have meetings booked in the hotel meeting space, as well as in our Assembly Rooftop Lounge.”
“We’ve been working with the security teams of the VIPs staying with us. Each VIP has their own security needs, and we customize to whatever is necessary to keep them comfortable. The Logan often hosts VIPs and celebrities, so it is not unusual for our team to be working with security teams in this capacity.”
“Our locals are friendly and welcoming, and the city infrastructure has experience with large groups, which makes it a pleasant experience for the visitors.”