When top events industry executives met last week in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for Global Meetings Industry Day, they underscored the destination’s change in direction; determined to diversify beyond gaming, Atlantic City modeled itself after Las Vegas to expand its meetings presence by creating Meet AC three years ago. The organization has already exceeded projections, reports Meet AC President and CEO Jim Wood. In the bigger picture, Wood says Atlantic City has increased its booking window from 18 months out to seven years—generally the time frame citywides require. In 2016, four industry events, including MPI’s World Education Congress and the TSNN Awards, were held there.
Wood says Meet AC seeks out industry events like the Global Meetings Industry Day panel to continue to reaffirm its meetings messaging. Connect caught up with Wood to discuss what’s new in Atlantic City.
What’s different for Atlantic City compared to past redevelopment cycles?
We’re pursuing the meetings market much more aggressively than in years past. Examples are The Claridge Hotel adding 15,000 square feet of conference space, Resorts Casino Hotel adding 12,000 square feet and the Borgata adding an 18,000-sq.-ft. conference center.
Where is the confidence coming from?
Last fall, a ballot amendment on expanding casinos in New Jersey was voted down overwhelmingly. Prior to the vote, development and prospecting were slowing. Developers now recognize there won’t be additional competition for the gaming market, so companies are investing in Atlantic City; [take] Hard Rock International’s purchase of the Taj Mahal, for example. [The hotel] is expected to reopen as a Hard Rock property in 2018.
Additionally, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s newly developed Tourism District Master Plan is streamlining the regulatory process and working to make it easier and more attractive for developers to come in.