Destinations

How Destination Cleveland Engages the Whole Community During Conventions

The city’s volunteer program offers extra support for meeting planners.

More than 3,500 members of the American Bus Association (ABA) gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, this past January for the organization’s Annual Meeting & Marketplace, an event Destination Cleveland’s CEO, David Gilbert, called the “Super Bowl for travel and tourism.” With an event that large, and especially with 500 new attendees this year, meeting organizers wanted to make sure everyone was able to navigate the city with ease.

In order to do this, Destination Cleveland enlisted volunteers for the conference. Residents have the chance to work with the visitors bureau to change “the narrative about our hometown,” according the group’s site, and share “the momentum that has fueled this region.” This includes greeting attendees and offering information about transportation and attractions when they arrive at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Cleveland’s welcome starts at the airport.

Destination Cleveland’s convention and event experience team coordinates with volunteers to accommodate large groups, anticipating their needs and adjusting accordingly. In addition to assisting at the airport, volunteers have the opportunity to greet guests at their hotels, providing recommendations for local restaurants and activities. Others serve as wayfinders for attendees, offering directional help and answering questions for visitors in downtown Cleveland. They’re not only situated in high-traffic areas like the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland but also outdoors to help attendees get from one location to the next.

“Destination Cleveland and the host committee did a great job of educating the community on who we were and why we were there,” said Lynn M. Brewer, ABA’s Sr. VP, Meetings, Education and Member Services. “The volunteers were easy to spot in their black and gold t-shirts and gloves and were friendly, knowledgeable, and everywhere.”

In addition to ABA, other organizations have utilized Destination Cleveland’s volunteer program during their events. Experient used the program when it hosted its annual EnVision event at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown in March. About 600 of the company’s strategic account managers and sourcing managers from across the nation had volunteers at their disposal.

This September, Content Marketing World returns to Cleveland, with keynote speakers like actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and GE CEO Linda Boff. Over 3,600 marketers will visit from more than 50 countries, making Destination Cleveland volunteers more valuable than ever.

“Destination Cleveland wants meeting attendees to have a positive and memorable experience from the moment they arrive in the city to the minute they leave,” said Mike Burns, Senior Vice President of Convention Sales & Services at Destination Cleveland. “Through a dedicated convention services team and our convention and event experience team, we showcase Cleveland’s unique assets and Midwest hospitality to enhance attendees’ time in our city.”

In addition to the volunteer program, the convention and event experience team can bring a taste of Cleveland’s world-class arts and culture and culinary scenes to convention sessions and special events with options like the local food truck program, where meeting planners can tap into the city’s growing food truck scene.

Event organizers can also opt for Destination Cleveland’s art intervention program, which features musicians, artists, and dancers from Northeast Ohio. It was utilized during the 2016 Republican National Convention, during which performance artists entertained attendees in Downtown Cleveland’s Public Square and at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. ” Artists ranged from break dancers called Jasmine Dragons to a New Orleans-style jazz group, Eric Seddon’s Hot Club.

The Cleveland team can also help organizers host events in the many unique venues throughout the city, like the world’s only Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which is a great way to incorporate the city’s musical roots into an event. The Great Lakes Science Center, offering 65,000 square feet of space, and the Nautica Entertainment Complex, providing more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, are also great options for big groups.

If attendees need guidance, but aren’t near any volunteers or the Destination Cleveland Visitors Center, they can download the free Destination Cleveland mobile app and get instant details about attractions and events in the area. The app uses location-based messaging throughout Cleveland to provide guests with insider tips. An interactive map feature identifies restaurants nearby and other venues, along with directions.

 

Sarah Beauchamp