Matt Hollander is Spectra Venue Management’s General Manager at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which is presently undergoing a $615 million expansion, renovation, and modernization project. Hollander oversees all of the functional areas of the convention center including sales and marketing, operations, public safety, finance, guest experience, and administration of relationships with third party service providers.
With almost 27 years of industry experience, Hollander has held leadership positions in various venue types or related industry organizations including a DMO, a Sports Commission, performing arts venue, arenas and convention centers. He has overseen major capital projects including new venue construction and major venue renovation projects. Hollander is a Certified Facilities Executive and presently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Board of Governors for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Convention Center and Exhibition Halls committee of the International Association of Venue Managers as well as the organization’s Certification Board.
Hollander received his B.A. Degree in Communications from Florida Atlantic University. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic.
What is the history of the Miami Beach Convention Center?
The Miami Beach Convention Center located in Miami Beach, Florida was constructed in 1957. We are proud of that history and the role that we have played in bringing people together in Miami Beach. In 1964 the center hosted the heavyweight title bout between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston; and in 1971, we hosted both the Republic and Democratic National Conventions.
The center was renovated in 1989 and we are currently in the middle of an expansion and renovation project that will usher in a new era in the life of Miami Beach. The renovation, which started at the end of 2015 and will continue until the latter part of 2018, will provide Miami a much larger and completely modern facility.
Who manages the convention center now?
Spectra by Comcast Spectator, which was previously known as Global Spectrum, manages the center. They took over management of the site in 2008 from our predecessor who had managed the center for about 18 years. The city was looking for someone with a new perspective.
What benefits does the facility offer compared to its peers?
Perhaps our greatest advantage is our location. The Miami International Airport just minutes away from the center. Miami is an international center and serves as a bridge between Latin America and North America. Of course, the climate and fashionable environment of Miami Beach add to its attractiveness. The Miami and Miami Beach area have a global reputation as an exciting place where people want to visit.
What events are organized annually at the convention center?
We have quite many major events. The most well-known is our annual Art Basel Event. It’s a major international, contemporary art fair which draws collectors from around the world. Some of the most significant galleries and artists and major collectors convene in Miami and Miami Beach to participate in that show. We also host international jewelry events that bring buyers and sellers from around the world - particularly from Central and South America.
We host an annual trade shows for various trade groups including organizations from the travel, medical, and financial industries. The cruise industry’s trade group meets here every year and we recently hosted The International Convention for Dermatologists. We also host annual shows geared towards local audiences like our home shows.
Is the convention center operation flexible enough to host large and small events?
Flexibility is the cornerstone of our planned renovations for the convention center. The previous design offered some flexibility but made it a little difficult to accommodate large-scale events. One of the missing components was ballroom space to accommodate general sessions.
Our goal is to provide comfortable space for groups of any size, from small meetings of just a few people to very large exhibitions and sessions. Meeting planners want to create environments that foster creativity. We are building flexible accommodations to encourage small group and one-on-one interaction to extend the networking opportunities outside of the large exhibit spaces.
We are putting a lot of effort into upgrading the center’s technology to meet the growing needs and flexibility requirements of our clients. For example, our audiovisual systems are designed to that attendees can grab a signal anywhere and send it anywhere without having to run cables. There will be a heavy concentration on fiber connectivity throughout the building to ensure we can meet today’s needs for telecommunication infrastructure, as well as our anticipated needs in the future.
We are a full-service convention center and have designed the new building with no fixed food concession locations. We work very collaboratively with show producers and meeting planners to make sure that the menus, locations, and the look and feel fit what they are trying to accomplish with value added to their experience at the building.
How would the renovations refurbish your convention center?
Much of the renovation that’s taking place is within the existing exhibit structure. An addition, consisting of 140,000 square feet will house new ballroom and meeting room space giving facility us a total of 1.4 million square feet.
Every inch of the building is essentially going to be new. The electrical and telecommunications systems will be totally replaced. The floor in the exhibit hall has been pulled up to provide new services. Basically, the building is entirely new in its functionality and finishes from the HVAC systems down to the utilities.
We are also adding a 20,000-square foot, rooftop to the ballroom which will offer stunning views of our park. Our surface parking lot across the street has been relocated to the roof of the convention center and will provide about 800 parking spaces.
Why should meeting planners consider your facility for events?
The center’s modernization project is not just focused on the building structure itself, but also on our entire approach of how we deliver services. I think potential customers will find that we have systems in place to make their job easier. Between the resources of the venue, our service partners, and our community stakeholders, everyone is working together to ensure that the event organizer, exhibitors, and attendees have a very favorable experience.
We closely monitor customer satisfaction and have received exceptionally high ratings from our users under Spectra management. We have extended our contract with Spectra and they will be operating the facility through the renovation and beyond as we usher in the coming period of growth and change. Our relationships with our partners, both within the hotel lodging community and the Convention & Visitors Bureau, have been exceptional. As a result, client retention has been very high.