Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 25 2014

Here’s Your Next Meeting Location

By Daniel Metz

While I’ve lived in the Midwest for almost all 26 years of my existence, I had never been to The City That Rocks — until last week at the Positively Cleveland Annual Meeting. Sure, I was there to learn about the city’s rebranding effort and what it’s doing to make the Cle optimal for meeting and event professionals, but I also had a chance to get to know the real Cleveland (and, full disclosure, lost a bit of money at the casino while I was at it).

The Convention Center

In addition to enjoying the personal tour of the city, I had a chance to see first-hand why so many meeting planners are putting a big star in the northeast corner of Ohio on their maps: the new Cleveland Convention Center. With its stunning lakefront views, 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, 35 high-tech meeting rooms, and the column free Grand Ballroom boasting 32,000 square feet, the convention center has everything you need for your next event.

It’s one of a kind with the majority of it being underground yet providing tons of natural light. What makes the center even more unique is the roof with a grass lawn planners are already taking huge advantage of.

“Last summer, we saw a 5,000-person opening event with live music and fireworks,” David Gilbert, President & CEO of Positively Cleveland, says. “It really acts as another convention hall.”

Gilbert knows the new center is key to attracting new meetings but needed a hotel package to support it. It’s safe to say that he’s continuing to fuel that expansion.

“We’re building a new 600 room Hilton attached to the convention center that will open in 2016. We have the hotel package to support new conventions with the majority of our rooms being within a short walking distance to the convention center,” Gilbert says.

Not Your Grandma’s Cleveland

It’s time to shake any misperceptions you may have of Cleveland because Cleveland really does rock. I personally had a great time exploring downtown even with my poor luck at the tables.

But it is time to drop the Cleveland Rocks slogan as Positively Cleveland  – the city’s Destination Marketing Organization – found out the best way to let everyone know is to let the city speak for itself, no bragging necessary. The city prides itself on not being in your face or needing to yell out how awesome it is – it just says, come see for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

Cleveland understands that people visit a city for different reasons and that one simple slogan can’t sum up everything the city has to offer. With James Beard Award winning restaurants, a host of professional sports teams, a national park, and a bustling arts scene including a world class orchestra finding something for your attendees to do won’t be a problem in the Cle.

“[W]e don’t think you can define Cleveland with one catch-phrase. Rather we will use different campaigns to connect with our different audiences,” said Colette Jones, Vice President of Marketing at Positively Cleveland.


Being navigationally challenged myself I can appreciate Cleveland’s new effort to make itself more navigable. After all walkability and ease of navigation are important aspects when choosing your next destination and Cleveland has stepped its game up in that area, launching a new citywide wayfinding system plan. A few highlights sure to help you attendees navigate the city, human scale detail when creating walking maps and on-street digital signage that can be used to highlight events.

The Forefront of Medical

Cleveland understands not only how valuable the medical meetings vertical is but also how valuable medical education is to the general public hence The Global Center for Health Innovation was built. The Global Center is billed as the only facility in the world that displays the future of health and health care.

The Global Center features showrooms, meeting spaces and themed floors dedicated to showcasing the latest research, product development and medical innovations. With displays from medical giants like GE, HIMMS and the Cleveland Clinic the healthcare community is already buying in.

Cleveland clearly has the goods to be considered a first-tier city, and for that all Cleveland has to say is “You’re Welcome.”

Learn more about hosting your meeting in Cleveland or contact them here.

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