Biggest corporate convention since pandemic opens in Atlanta this week

Workers prepare a hall in the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for a Primerica convention that will begin on Wednesday in both the Congress Center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, expects 35,000 attendees from across North America for its biennial convention. (Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com)

Combined ShapeCaption
Workers prepare a hall in the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for a Primerica convention that will begin on Wednesday in both the Congress Center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, expects 35,000 attendees from across North America for its biennial convention. (Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com)

Primerica to bring tens of thousands of conventioneers downtown.

Tens of thousands of conventioneers are set to stream into downtown this week for the largest corporate convention since the start of the pandemic, a shot in the arm for the city’s hotels and restaurants still recovering from COVID-19 disruptions to business travel.

Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, will open its big biennial convention in Atlanta on Wednesday, where it expects 35,000 attendees from across North America. Leisure and hospitality is one of metro Atlanta’s biggest sectors, state labor data shows, accounting for about 290,400 jobs and producing state and local sales taxes with each dinner and drink sold and each hotel stay booked.

Primerica sells life insurance and investment products through more than 129,000 independent representatives across the United States and Canada.

This year’s convention is a make up for last year’s event, which had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and replaced with a virtual event. This year’s convention comes amid a broader return of conferences.

Combined ShapeCaption
Workers prepare a hall in the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for a Primerica convention that will begin on Wednesday in both the center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, expects 35,000 attendees from across North America for its biennial convention. (Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com)

Credit: Chris Day

Workers prepare a hall in the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for a Primerica convention that will begin on Wednesday in both the center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, expects 35,000 attendees from across North America for its biennial convention. (Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com)

Credit: Chris Day

Combined ShapeCaption
Workers prepare a hall in the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for a Primerica convention that will begin on Wednesday in both the center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, expects 35,000 attendees from across North America for its biennial convention. (Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com)

Credit: Chris Day

Credit: Chris Day

“Downtown Atlanta really thrives off of conventions, so we’re really excited that things are starting to turn back around,” said Danielle Brackett, sales and events manager at downtown’s Morton’s The Steakhouse.

From Wednesday through July 2, Primerica salespeople will gather in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Georgia World Congress Center to get revved up for selling financial products to middle-income families in their communities.

The pandemic drove record term life insurance sales for Primerica in 2020, then concerns about the future prompted more investing last year, according to Primerica CEO Glenn Williams. Now, he said, the focus is on coaching families on managing financial priorities amid concerns about inflation and a potential recession.

While there have been other larger trade shows at AmericasMart, major sports and hobby events, and student confabs in Atlanta over the last couple of years, Primerica is the largest corporate convention in Atlanta booked through the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau since the pandemic began.

The attendance is still smaller than the 40,000 seen at past Primerica conventions, with attendance by Canadians depressed because of Canada’s international travel restrictions, particularly for those who are not fully vaccinated, according to Williams.

“There is still some concern about traveling,” Williams said. But, “we think it serves an important role to come back together. There’s a reunion aspect.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Workers prepare a hall in the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for a Primerica convention that will begin on Wednesday in both the center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, expects 35,000 attendees from across North America for its biennial convention. (Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com)

Credit: Chris Day

Workers prepare a hall in the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for a Primerica convention that will begin on Wednesday in both the center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, expects 35,000 attendees from across North America for its biennial convention. (Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com)

Credit: Chris Day

Combined ShapeCaption
Workers prepare a hall in the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for a Primerica convention that will begin on Wednesday in both the center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Primerica, a Duluth-based financial services company, expects 35,000 attendees from across North America for its biennial convention. (Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com)

Credit: Chris Day

Credit: Chris Day

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO William Pate said in a written statement that “Atlanta’s hospitality community is eager to welcome back Primerica and show off the city’s new development.”

A Reverb by Hard Rock hotel opened next to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in late 2020, the Georgia World Congress Center has expanded and a Signia by Hilton hotel is under construction on the GWCC campus.

Convention business in Atlanta has been on the rise since plummeting earlier in the pandemic. While a recovery got underway in early summer 2021, the number of people attending conventions dropped later that summer with the delta variant, and suffered another setback with the omicron surge that stretched into early this year.

Now, even though the virus continues to spread, the nation has not seen the surge of hospitalizations and deaths of earlier waves. Travel, meanwhile, has been recovering strongly, with travelers filling airports and bringing traffic back to hotels and restaurants.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport expects to handle 1.7 million people over the Fourth of July travel period running from June 30 through July 5, and is working on plans to ease congestion in the terminal.

The convention & visitors bureau has 20 large events that each yield at least 5,000 peak hotel room bookings for this year, on par with its goal. For the year through May, hotels within a mile of the Congress Center have seen average occupancy rise to 55.7%, up from just 39% in the same period of 2021.

“We’re seeing continued improvement,” said Mark Vaughan, chief sales officer for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In downtown Atlanta, the return of conventioneers is keeping the hospitality industry busy.

Brackett, the Morton’s sales and events manager, said most of her event bookings coming from corporate clients, and she believes the uptick is due to conventions coming back.

“Definitely for the month of June we have seen a big pickup,” she said.


Annual total of major Atlanta events yielding 5,000+ peak hotel rooms booked

2019: 20

2020: 6

2021: 12

2022: 20

2023: 21

Source: ACVB

Recent large conventions and attendance estimates

  • U.S. Poultry and Egg Association International Product and Processing Expo, January 2022: 20,000 attendees
  • MODEX supply chain trade show, March 2022: 25,000 attendees
  • DECA International Career Development Conference, April 2022: 18,000 attendees
  • Primerica International Convention, June 29-July 2, 2022: 35,000 attendees

Source: ACVB