Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

Branding the convention experience

In Massachusetts, meetings and conventions matter. They generate billions in economic activity, spark innovation, and keep us at the forefront of industries like biotech and education. It’s the job of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to keep business growing, and that’s why they came to us: together, we worked to evolve the MCCA brand beyond their venues and put the focus on the meetings and convention experience, which we renamed Signature Boston. Under that banner, we developed marketing strategies, advertising, sales tactics, core publications, and a website to bring it all together.

The Challenge

In Massachusetts, meetings and conventions generate economic activity, spark innovation, and keep us at the forefront of industry. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) operates several of the most important convention and event venues in the region, including the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) in South Boston, the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Back Bay, and the MassMutual Center in Springfield. These venues do more than attract over 700,000 visitors and generate nearly $800 million in economic activity: they also drive innovation. But the convention market has been changing; new technology has transformed the way people gather, exchange ideas, and network. How does an agency dedicated to growing the convention business stay relevant in such an environment? How can Boston compete with larger cities? As the marketing and communication agency of record for the MCCA, we were tasked with finding answers to these questions.

What we did

When we started to work with the MCCA, we first focused on raising the quality and profile of their official publications, including award-winning annual and corporate social responsibility reports, as well as developing a strategy and visual system to bring consistency to all of their print and online communications. We quickly took on the task of making a case for the BCEC expansion, a long-term project that was seen as crucial to our competitiveness as a convention destination. We took reams of statistical data, economic projections, and customer research and crafted a compelling story that helped convince state legislators, state tourism and travel leaders, and even skeptical South Boston residents to back a bold investment.

Building on that success, we shifted our efforts towards developing Boston’s brand as a convention and event destination. Our own formative, competitive, and survey research showed us that venues were no longer the selling point for meeting professionals and other decision makers. What the market wanted was remarkable experiences for exhibitors and attendees – something that, fortunately, the MCCA and Boston could provide in spades. This insight led us to a three-fold strategy: first, we would refocus external communications toward experiences, rather than venues; second, we would work to break internal barriers and create seamless customer relationships with meeting organizers; and third, we would create a unified brand for the Boston convention experience, one that put all Boston has to offer front and center.

This strategy drove our work to write, design, and produce an innovative sales kit that brought the Hynes Convention Center and the BCEC together and prioritized outstanding service over architectural features and square footage. We also worked with the MCCA’s strategic team to redefine the entire sales process and put the customer – not the MCCA’s internal departments – as the primary focus. The capstone of our work with the MCCA was Signature Boston: a new brand strategy to increase revenue and maintain Massachusetts’ domestic and international leadership in the meetings and conventions industry. By focusing on experiences – rather than venues – Signature Boston has gone a long way towards unifying a wide range of MCCA’s products and services and building a customer-centric perspective across the organization. Signature Boston has also become the public-facing brand of the MCCA, visible in everything from building banners and signage to marketing materials and online presence.

Results

The results speak for themselves: in the two years after Signature Boston was introduced, both new bookings and revenues increased. More impressive, the Hynes Convention Center, long considered outdated and a potential candidate for closure, had a banner year, which seems to have guaranteed its survival for the foreseeable future. Several years later, Signature Boston continues to have a significant presence in the meetings and conventions marketplace.

Services providedMarketing, Branding, Advertising, Digital & User Experience, Photography