From high-profile bookings to groups seeing record-breaking attendances, the Wilmington Convention Center has experienced success since its official grand opening just this past January.
Located in historic downtown Wilmington along the two-mile Riverwalk, the building is the largest convention center on the North Carolina coast and has hosted over 80 events, ranging from conventions and tradeshows to a variety of public and private special events.
In fact, five of the last six conventions hosted at the convention center have boasted record-breaking attendance. Most notably, the North Carolina Republican Party held its state convention at the Wilmington Convention Center in early June. The largest gathering at the center to date, the 2011 state convention, marked an astounding 125 percent increase in attendance over the 2010 convention. The weekend brought more than 1,800 registered delegates and hundreds more guests to the area to enjoy the newly opened building and its amenities along with the area’s historic charm, attractions and nearby beaches.
“The opening of the Wilmington Convention Center was a catalyst for groups to come and experience our area, both professionally and personally,” said Susan Eaton, Wilmington Convention Center general manager. “Our new facility offers a variety of meeting and exhibits space, superb catering and unique design elements necessary to achieve successful conventions and meetings, for gatherings both large and small. Combine that with amazing waterfront views and the historic charm of the area and groups can’t help but enjoy every part of their stay and continue to book events here.”
The Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC), North Carolina Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP), North Carolina Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America all achieved record member attendance (with increases of 14 percent to 125 percent) at their annual meetings and conferences held at the Wilmington Convention Center this year.
The North Carolina American Water Works Association and Water Environment Association (NC AWWA-WEA) also experienced a significant increase in attendance at its 2011 spring conference in Wilmington, and will return to the waterfront center for its 2012 and 2013 conferences. The convention center’s sustainable design elements and pending LEED certification were also major factors in the association’s decision to head to the North Carolina coast for its conference and experience Wilmington.
The Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America’s 60th annual meeting at the Wilmington Convention Center in March was filled with symposiums, topical sessions, workshops and more. After more than a year of planning, the conference was a great success according to Dr. Richard Laws, chair of the organization committee and professor at UNC-Wilmington.
“Over a year of planning went into this event and the staff was pleasant, responsive and efficient at all times. After attending these meetings for 30 years, I can say confidently that the Wilmington meeting was the most problem-free convention I have attended, and the food service was by far the best I have experienced,” said Laws.
The 107,000 square-foot convention center offers organizers and attendees a variety of spaces, including a 30,000 square-foot Exhibit Hall, 12,000 square-foot ballroom, over 15,000 square feet of pre-function space and nearly 6,000 square feet of additional meeting space. Attendees also have the opportunity to enjoy the coastal breeze on the 12,000 square-foot riverfront lawn or take in the sophisticated maritime design of the building and the vintage photographs located throughout that celebrate Wilmington’s historic past.