Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 21 2013

Freebie Alert: Convention Center Covers Attendee Transportation Costs

By David McMillin

portland transit convention center

Every meeting planner is accustomed to sending a “What You Need to Know Before You Go” email to registered attendees in advance of an annual meeting. Those lists typically include essential information about cab fares and public transit options, but one city is helping planners turn those figures into some friendly looking zeroes.

Metro, the regional government in Portland, Oregon, recently struck a deal with the city’s transit system to cover the fare costs for convention center attendees. As competition among convention destinations continues to heat up, the complimentary transit passes may prove to be a valuable asset in promoting Portland as a place where thousands of attendees can reduce some of their out-of-pocket expenses.

“It’s a wonderful marketing tool for us,” Teri Desler, director of Oregon Metro’s visitor venues, said in a statement. “It allows free transportation for folks in both an economical and environmentally sound way, because they’d otherwise be hiring shuttle buses to drive them back and forth across town.”

Desler’s mention of the environmentally-friendly solution reinforces Portland’s position as a leader in green meetings. In 2004, the city’s convention center became the first center in the country to earn LEED status.

Convenience vs. Complimentary

Complimentary transit passes will undoubtedly appeal to some attendees (I would definitely be one of them). However, I’ll be curious to see how many convention-goers take advantage of access to the city’s trains, buses and streetcars. The immediate convenience of a cab is a perk that saves many business travelers time and energy.

What do you think of the deal? Would your attendees use public transit while they’re in town for a meeting? 

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