Actress and activist Geena Davis spoke on January 9. Image courtesy of PCMA.

Who hosts conventions for the conventioneers?

Meet the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).

Last week, this international industry group brought more than 4,000 meeting and event planners to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for what VISITPittsburgh described as “the Super Bowl of conventions.”

“PCMA is the gold standard for convention management professionals,” said Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh. “These are the individuals who will decide which city will host their next big event. It’s our opportunity to showcase what Pittsburgh is capable of doing and our opportunity to shine as a city.”

The three-day seminar featured inspirational speeches from celebrities and activists like Billie Jean King and Geena Davis (pictured above).

The keynote address was delivered by actor and Mt. Lebanon native Joe Manganiello.

The citywide conference used more than 10,000 room nights at 18 hotels during the three days it was held here, Davis pointed out.

While the convention center hosts a wide variety of conventions in a given year, the PCMA conference was a major coup since it put Pittsburgh on the radar of the many influential members in the association’s network.

“We want to show the PCMA attendees that we know how to execute a convention,” said Davis.

The effort to impress started before the convention as attendees arriving at the Pittsburgh airport were treated to a martini lounge in the main terminal and welcome tables near the baggage claim.

“Having PCMA come to Pittsburgh is a huge opportunity for us,” said Jeff Martinelli, manager of customer programs for Pittsburgh International Airport. “We recognize that the airport is the first impression people get of our city, and we want to make it great.”

PCMA funds a variety of research and education activities based on innovating public events. Headquartered in Chicago, the organization has 7,000 members and partners in 37 different countries.

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.