The Radiological Society of North America is shopping for a new home for its annual trade show, traditionally held in Chicago.
The RSNA said it's looking to hold the convention in a new location in six years because Chicago hotels won't make available enough discounted rooms for its 55,000-plus attendees. The organization is weighing a move to another city when its agreement with Chicago's McCormick Place convention center expires after the 2001 show.
The society's board of directors last month visited Orlando, Fla., which is considered the favorite alternate site for what has become the largest medical meeting in the world.
The RSNA pumps about $64 million into the Chicago economy at a time of year when convention and tourism business is otherwise moribund: the week after Thanksgiving.
Officials at the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau are racing to create a task force of top area hoteliers to deal with the issue before the RSNA makes a decision. They've met with executives of 24 downtown hotels to underscore the importance of finding a solution.
"Our board is quite concerned (about the Chicago situation)," said RSNA Executive Director Delmar Stauffer. "We're not getting a great deal of cooperation in finding enough rooms. We're already turning down large groups from non-North American countries that want to attend because we can't fit them into our show."
The RSNA show signed on to a 10-year plan in 1991 intended to eliminate the need to renegotiate room rates each year. Sources said the agreement includes increases in bulk room rates of about 5% each year.
But an increasing number of hotels-predominantly high-priced and low-priced operators, industry sources said-have been refusing to set aside enough rooms at a discount. Those operators then hit pay dirt because they can charge top rates when other hotels fill up and overflow guests come calling.