Experience Columbus Names New CEO

Experience Columbus — the convention and visitors bureau for Ohio's capital city — has named Brian Ross its next president and CEO, it announced last week.

Ross, who has served as the organization's vice president of sales for the past six years, previously spent 17 years in various sales and marketing roles with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. He replaces Paul Astleford, who announced his retirement last summer after serving in his position for 13 years.

"Experience Columbus has established aggressive goals for growth in the coming five years. The search committee sought a candidate who could work with our many partners to lead the effort to significantly grow convention and tourism business in Columbus and create greater economic prosperity for our community," said Experience Columbus Board Chair Lisa Hinson. "Brian's solid sales background and six-year focus on attracting conventions to Columbus shows he is ready to hit the ground running. We feel we have got the best of both worlds with Brian, someone who has Columbus in his DNA yet also has the broader experience of having worked in larger national markets."

As vice president of sales for Experience Columbus, Ross previously oversaw all aspects of the convention sales, convention services, group tour sales and membership departments. Under his leadership, Experience Columbus opened national sales offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, added a sales position to focus on niche leisure group travel markets — including family reunions, bank travel, religious groups travel and the LGBT travel market — and grew the CVB's membership to include more than 870 organizations.

"I want to thank the search committee and board of directors for their support," Ross said. "I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to lead Experience Columbus at this very exciting time in our city's development. I look forward to continuing the unprecedented collaboration that has taken place centered around advancing Columbus image on a national stage. We have a six-point aspirational plan that will grow the $7.8 billion tourism and hospitality industry here in Greater Columbus and add to the 61,000 jobs it supports."

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