Inside Shenzhen World, China’s New 5-Million-Square-Foot Exhibition Center

December 9, 2019
Shenzhen World

China’s newest and largest convention center, Shenzhen World, opened in early November. The venue, which will be the biggest exhibition and convention center in the world once its Phase 2 construction is completed, is also aiming to be the most sustainable and most intelligent. One thing is certain: The impressive facility will play a significant role in growing the region’s economy.

Located in the Pearl River Delta, Shenzhen is China’s technology innovation hub and home to more than 3 million businesses. The city has grown from a small fishing village to a metropolis in just three decades — from 30,000 to 12.5 million people — the highest growth rate among major Chinese cities.

Shenzhen’s local government is heavily invested in research and development to fuel additional growth. In 2015, the government determined that the city’s existing convention and exhibition facilities would not be able to scale to meet future demand. Management consultancy firm JWC GmbH, which specializes in trade fairs and conventions, was brought in to help develop plans for a new venue.

JWC used both industry knowledge and benchmarking of other exhibition and convention venues to make its recommendations — but went into the project feeling confident about the location. “For me, it's very, very clear that Shenzhen will be, economically, the No. 1 city in China, possibly even in Asia,” says Jochen Witt, JWC president and CEO. 

Built in record time — less than three years from conception to completion — Shenzhen World already has many events on the books. The Bao’an Industry Development Expo, and Shenzhen International Intelligent Equipment Industry Expo & International Electronic Equipment Industry Expo were the first events to be held in the venue, with four halls fully booked and about 40,000 visitors. The 2019 International Youth Innovation Conference and the Greater Bay Area Industrial Expo were also held at Shenzhen World in November 

Space to Exhibit, Convene, Meet and Dine

With the completion of its Phase 1 build, Shenzhen World offers 400,000 square meters (4.3 million square feet) of flexible exhibition and meeting space. Once Phase 2 is complete, the venue will have a total of 500,000 sqm (5.38 million sq. ft.) of exhibition space — making it larger than Germany’s Hannover Messe, which is currently the largest convention and exhibition center globally.

Shenzhen World has three entrances and features two main registration lobbies, which make it easy for two large-scale events to be held simultaneously while maintaining brand integrity. Additional areas for registration are also available.

Sixteen 20,000 sqm (215,278 sq. ft.) column-free exhibition halls are arranged along a central corridor, with people movers located on the facility’s second level. While the halls on the main level all have air conditioning (once a rarity in China, but rapidly growing due to the heat and humidity levels), the upper level does not, saving both on costs and energy consumption. Instead, it features an open glass ceiling cover that provides both some air and natural light for attendees as they move from place to place, and signage in both Chinese and English to help people find their way. 

The venue also has three event halls, including one 50,000 sqm (538,196 sq. ft.) mega-hall that can comfortably hold 12,500 people. There are eight decentralized conference areas next to each hall, with more than 130 meeting rooms throughout the facility. The North Hall features one hall designed as a conference center area, with a ballroom that can hold up to 6,200 attendees plus 22 meeting rooms in addition to the main 20,000 sqm (215,278 sq. ft.) space.

When it comes to dining, Shenzhen World has 50,000 sqm (538,196 sq. ft.) of restaurants, including international cuisines with full-service, self-service and grab-and-go options as well as convenience stores and coffee shops. Among the first to open were a KFC, 7-Eleven and several cafes. Additional eateries will be opening over the next few months. The facility also offers four rooftop gardens with views of the city that can be used by visitors or booked by event organizers for gatherings.

Location, Location, Location

The new venue is located in Shenzhen Airport New Town, which will be the center of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The town is growing at an exponential rate alongside Shenzhen World, with new infrastructure and hotels springing up to support the influx of workers and visitors. When complete, New Town will encompass two islands, three districts and multiple travel corridors.

Shenzhen World is approximately 20 minutes from Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport by taxi and 75 minutes by taxi or an hour by ferry from Hong Kong International Airport. For those driving in, venue access is available directly from the highway, and there are 9,100 visitor parking spaces in an underground lot. There is also a dedicated truck marshaling yard that can hold more than 1,000 vehicles — although this will change with the Phase 2 expansion. A venue shuttle is currently provided from the Tangwei subway station, and soon, two new subway stops will deliver attendees directly to the two registration lobbies.

Gerd Weber, senior venues expert and JWC partner, says that the venue is setting new standards globally, both due to the way it was planned and has been constructed. He adds that the location provides great opportunities. “The venue is located in the heart of one of the economically strongest areas of the world; it has an excellent infrastructure; it has direct connections to the high speed rail system of China and is located close to the airports of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. In terms of overall potential, there are few venues in the world which can match these conditions.”     

Shenzhen World 2A Sustainable, Intelligent Venue

Shenzhen World was built for sustainability from the ground up, with the aim of achieving the No. 1 spot for exhibition and convention centers in low-carbon and savings on land, energy, water and materials. Shenzhen Zhaohua International Exhibition Operation Co., which manages and operates Shenzhen World, is applying for a two-star Green Building Label, LEED Gold certification and three-star BREEAM status for the venue. 

The facility uses the latest in rigging technology and has the world’s largest rainwater collection system in a single-block building. And through optimization of fencing, HVAC system and lighting and facility system, the project energy consumption per square meter is much lower than that of other similar buildings.

Shenzhen Zhaohua International Exhibition Operation Co. is also committed to “digital, smart and intelligent” development, working with partners including Huawei, China Telecommunications, Tencent and Accenture. This includes ensuring strong and scalable Wi-Fi and telecommunication signals throughout the building and a multi-purpose venue information mobile app.

Rather than developing its own standalone app, Shenzhen World worked with Tencent to leverage WeChat and is also working with the technology provider on its smart building initiative. Information available in the Shenzhen World WeChat platform includes navigation, restaurants, courier services, business centers, Wi-Fi services, parking and airport services.

Tencent has already developed an Internet of Things-driven, building-wide system within its own Shenzhen headquarters. The smart building has room temperature automation based on usage, access controlled via facial recognition, and security features including the ability to set digital perimeters that will trigger an alarm if crossed. All of these features could be very useful in an event setting.

In the future, Shenzhen World officials say new services such as an interactive experience platform, VR navigation and more will be developed to provide both show organizers and attendees with additional smart digital event experiences.

To learn more or to watch a video of Shenzhen World, go here.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.