5 Questions for Brian Ross of Experience Columbus

The president and CEO of Experience Columbus on what is keeping downtown hopping.

"Short North Gothic" in the Short North Arts District in Columbus.
“Short North Gothic” in the Short North Arts District in Columbus.

Brian Ross knows the Buckeye State: The president and CEO of Experience Columbus is from “a very small town in northern Ohio called Seville.” He attended Ohio State University in Columbus — and never left. Eight years ago, Ross joined Experience Columbus as the vice president of sales. We caught up with him after the DMAI Convention in Austin.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in Columbus since you graduated from OSU in 1990?

Columbus is a very different city now than it was in 1990. At the time, students did not go downtown. That’s all changed. The Short North Arts District is brimming with unique art galleries, boutiques, and nationally renowned restaurants. It’s become a must-see destination for visitors and conventioneers when in Columbus. The Arena District, now home to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Nationwide Arena and Clippers’ Huntington Park, as well as dozens of restaurants and entertainment options that did not exist in 1990.

Brian Ross
Brian Ross knows Ohio.

Columbus is a city on the rise. The population has only grown since 1990. More businesses and people have moved into the downtown core and development continues to drive economic growth.

What is one of the most offbeat, or niche, meetings that Columbus has hosted lately?

The Origins Game Fair is one of Columbus’ annual meetings in a niche market. The event is put on by the Game Manufacturers Association, a non-profit trade association that promotes and advances the hobby game industry — including tabletop, war, miniature, trading-card, and live-action and role-playing games. Each year, the June expo [in Columbus next June 15-19, 2016], offers game play, tournaments, game debuts, special guests and seminars.

What’s one of the largest meetings the city has hosted recently?

We recently welcomed 10,000 attendees for 2015 Thirty-One Gifts conference. Thirty-One Gifts is the fastest-growing woman-owned company in the world.

What’s a fact about Columbus that not many people know?

Columbus is the 15th-largest city in the United States, right behind San Francisco. 

What was the last thing you ate?

The ahi-tuna tacos from Gallerie Bar & Bistro. Gallerie Chef Bill Glover will actually be taking over the James Beard House in New York City with a six-course, all-Ohio dinner in September, which is very exciting.

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch is associate editor of Convene.