Cleveland - A Successful Meetings Destination

SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS August 2006 Of course it has Lake Erie, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and some of the best airlift in the U.S. But now, with a new attitude toward business tourism in general (and an eye toward grabbing the 2008 Republican National Convention in particular), the city and the CVB of Greater Cleveland have launched a winning strategy to showcase their city's main attractions while helping planners build attendance and garner acclaim. Rock on.

Convention Facilities: The Cleveland Convention Center has 375,000 sf of dedicated space; 22 meeting rooms, largest accommodates 10,000 theater-style. International Exposition & Conference Center, 800,000 sf of dedicated meeting space; 35 meeting rooms, largest accommodates 4,000 theater-style.

Total Hotel Rooms: 22,000 (Greater Cleveland area). Near Convention Center: 4,000

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Average Daily Business Travel Costs*:
Hotel $155.59 F&B $59.10 Car Rental $91.05

For More Info:
CVB of Greater Cleveland

*Business Travel News 2006 Corporate Travel Index

"See Something New!" isn't just
Cleveland's latest tag line-it's the basis of how the city continues to expand and improve:
* New expansion/renovation. Cleveland's Hopkins Int'l Airport keeps expanding and renovating; and it just hired a new airport director. "As a hub for Continental Airlines, there are lots of travel options in and out of Cleveland," said Dennis Roche, president of the CVB of Greater Cleveland. "The runway expansion is complete, so terminal renovation is now a priority and the upgrade will make Cleveland more welcoming," adds Roche. "With Continental Airlines recently opening 57 gates at Concourse D, departures increased 25 percent and nonstop destinations grew from 64 to 81," said DeAnn Hazey, communications director for the CVB. According to Roche, direct flights from London's Gatwick Airport to Cleveland are a major marketing tool. "European delegates have more flight options through London, a big plus for associations with international members that host a meeting, convention, or trade show in Cleveland," notes Hazey.
* New attitude. Increasing tourism has ranked high on the agenda of Cleveland's Mayor Frank Jackson since he took office in January 2006. Jackson understands the benefits from business and leisure tourism, says Valarie J. McCall, chief of government affairs: "As a city councilman, Jackson realized the impact of tourists visiting the Rock Hall (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum). Recognizing the positive economic impact political conventions in 2004 had on New York and Philadelphia, Mayor Jackson is driving the push to land the 2008 Republican National Convention. Hosting such a convention would mean 20,000 to 50,000 people coming to Cleveland."
* New technology. Cleveland and its suburbs are connected by an ultra broadband network. "Cleveland is the only U.S. city selected as a Top 7 Intelligent Community of 2006 by the Intelligent Community Forum, a think tank focusing on job creation and economic development in the broadband economy," said Kelly Brewer, VP of sales for the CVB. "Intel also selected Cleveland as one of four worldwide digital communities, allowing us access to meetings that need a high-level of technology, including medical/biomed, IT/technology, and manufacturing segments."-Nicki Chodnoff

FACILITY NEWS The first sections of the massive Euclid Corridor Transportation Program, begun in Mar, will open this Dec, making way for the long-anticipated Silver Line RTA trains that will connect Public Square and its hotels, including the 208-room Ritz-Carlton and the 400-room Marriott, to the cultural neighborhood at University Circle.
* For visitors meeting and staying outside of downtown, new upscale retail developments abound. To the east in Beachwood, Legacy Village takes shopping and dining to a new level; to the west, Crocker Park gives the region its first H&M and Trader Joe's. Soon to open: Chagrin Highlands, bringing Cleveland its first Filene's Basement.
* A plan is currently on the table for Cleveland's Flats-the onetime nightclub mecca that is now languishing-to be transformed into a new community, with brand-new condos, retail, offices, and restaurants.
* Cleveland Museum of Art's $258-million expansion is under way, creating 40 percent more exhibit space, new shops and restaurants, parking, gardens, and parks-"a masterpiece in the making." The 1916 Beaux-Arts building gains two
new wings and a large piazza, sheltered by a soaring glass canopy. The renowned museum will re-open gallery by gallery, from summer of 2006 through spring of 2009.

Eye on the GOP
Successful Meetings speaks with Dennis Roche, president of the CVB of Greater Cleveland.

SM: Cleveland is on the short list as a site for the Republican National Convention in 2008. Why Cleveland?

Dennis Roche: Around February 2006, newly elected Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson received information from the Republican National Committee that it was interested in Cleveland as the site for the 2008 convention. At first, I thought Cleveland would be stretching by it having the Republican National Convention. We went to Washington D.C. to talk to with selection committee members and came back intent on putting together a proposal. We made the first cut and are on the short list with New York, Tampa, and Minneapolis. We're gearing up for the next step, what we hope will be an impressive effort when the RNC's site selection committee comes to town in August 2006. The final selection will be made November 2006.

SM: What will Cleveland's edge be when the RNC site selection committee comes calling?

Roche: It will be the event. The convention will be the only thing we will be concentrating on at that time. In tier-one cities, other conventions of this size are a semi-regular event. In Cleveland, the whole region will pull together. The RNC will be treated as absolute first-class visitors.

SM: Cleveland isn't a tier-one city. How can the city meet all the demands of a national political convention?

Roche: It's always a challenge. We tried to get the Democratic convention in 1992. We didn't win, due to hotel room inventory and quality at that time. Sixteen years later, downtown has doubled its hotel inventory. This is a regional effort led by Mayor Frank Jackson that involves the entire northeast quadrant of Ohio.

The challenge isn't rooms, but the commuting. Although moving around Cleveland itself is very, simple and straightforward. We have a highly developed highway system with major thoroughfare intersections downtown and very short commutes. Rush hour lasts about an hour.-Nicki Chodnoff

Street Smarts
Cleveland's neighborhoods hold layers of pleasant surprises. In Little Italy, artists' colonies sit alongside generations-old pasta and pastry houses. In progressive Detroit Shoreway, an award-winning eco-village and soon-to-open indie movie theatre redefine this onetime Romanian settlement. And the acclaimed restaurants in old-industrial Tremont have brought celebrity to Cleveland on Iron Chef America.

Expert guides are available from several operators. Perhaps the most popular is Lolly the Trolley, whose themed tours include churches and ethnic markets, as well as general history. An alternative look at Cleveland's history is available from Walking Tour of Cleveland; for free digital walking tours of downtown and various neighborhoods, go to and download podcasts onto your MP3 player.-Mary Mihaly

The "Club" Scene
The City Club of Cleveland is nearly a century old. From Franklin D. Roosevelt to Rosa Parks, its halls have held presidents, literary figures, religious figures and politicians of all stripes. And, now, me. But I was not there to muse on the state of philanthropy or wax poetic on the plight of the Middle East-I was the best man, about to toast the bride and groom.

For, while the City Club still showcases the insights of intellectuals and dignitaries, it is also available to the public, hosting anything ranging from intimate meetings for 10 to corporate events and receptions for up to 450. Yet, even while sipping a vodka tonic during the reception's cocktail hour, it's difficult to ignore the downtown landmark's history. The reminders are everywhere. Names of the hundreds of speakers whose bodies took to the lectern and whose voices filled the City Club are engraved in frosted glass windows throughout the recently refurbished second reception area.

And whether my toast added any insight into the lives of the bride and groom-as perhaps Rosa Parks once did on equality or Jimmy Carter on philanthropy-I spoke to the bride and groom, albeit clumsily, about our days in college and their lives together, past, present, and future. And whether the attendees remember the chicken piccata or the songs played by the competent DJ more than my humble toast, they applauded-living up to City Club's acceptance of speakers and thoughts, from the grandest of ideas to, in my case, the simplest of sentiments.-Jay Boehmer

Groups should consider these recommendations from Successful Meetings' Home Team* experts. Top choices include the 491-room Renaissance Cleveland; off-site venues include the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame.

*Home Team contributors who informed this section include Val Johnston and Michelle Santee Tupps. Contact them at [email protected]


The restaurants below have group facilities and were selected from the Zagat Survey of Cleveland. The order was determined by Zagat's food and service ratings of 20 and above and a price of up to $50 per person (without alcohol):

Name, Location, Type of Food
Johnny's Bar, West Boulevard, Continental
Lolita, Tremont, American
Blue Point Grille, Warehouse District, Seafood
Parker's New American Bistro, Ohio City, American
Baricelli Inn, Murray Hill, Continental
Johnny's Downtown, Warehouse District, Italian
Johnny's Bistro, Warehouse District, Continental
Hyde Park Steakhouse, Public Square, Steakhouse
fire, Shaker Square, American
Fahrenheit, Tremont, American

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Readers Recommend
Our subscribers gave Pinnacle Awards to the following:
CVB of Greater Cleveland
Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center
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