Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 19 2015

Inside Buffalo's $1 Billion Makeover

By David McMillin


Photo by Joe Cascio

Take a look around downtown Buffalo, and you’ll find that quite a few properties share one word: new. From the recently completed $200 million HarborCenter, a hockey and entertainment complex, to the soon-to-be-open five-star Curtiss Hotel, the Buffalo-Niagara area looks very different than it did just a few years ago.

"Buffalo has been undergoing an extreme makeover," Brian Hayden, Communications Manager, Visit Buffalo-Niagara, says. “There has been over $1 billion in new development in the past few years, and a host of new hotels and restaurants have opened up in our downtown core.”

Hayden is more than a communications manager doing his job, too. He’s a proud champion of his hometown, and he is familiar with the before and after pictures of the makeover. For a sense of the transformation in Buffalo, he calls extra attention to the city’s new waterfront district, Canalside. In 2014, over 1 million visitors spent time in the area nestled between the Buffalo River, Niagara River and Lake Erie. An abundance of activities awaits them during every season: boat rentals, pub crawls, autumn ghost walks, ice skating and more.


Photo by Joe Cascio

Using The Canalside To Create A More Compelling Attendee Experience

Many of the Canalside visitors are in town for meetings and conferences at the nearby Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center. With more than 180 events that bring an estimated 300,000 guests to the convention center each year, the waterfront hub of entertainment has become a a go-to destination for meeting planners looking to arrange unique off-site networking events. From walking, boating and kayaking tours to seeing the lights show on one of Buffalo’s historic grain elevators to riding ice bicycles, there is no shortage of opportunities to give attendees an only-in-Buffalo experience.


Photo by KC Kratt

Meetings Are Getting Even Better In Buffalo

With the new Marriott HarborCenter, a new Hilton Garden Inn and a new Courtyard Marriott, the downtown hotel supply offers nearly 2,000 rooms with an additional 8,000 rooms throughout Erie County. Plenty of groups are taking advantage of the opportunity to meet in Buffalo including the National Association of Education Office Professionals, Congress for New Urbanism and the Association of University Research Parks.

As this revitalization gains steam, Buffalo has also fine-tuned its services to ensure attendees are provided with an exemplary experience. A network of several dozen local social media users known as the Buffalo Tweet team tweet advice about Buffalo to conference attendees, while Visit Buffalo Niagara Staff employ random acts of kindness and go above and beyond to make sure meetings attendees are taken care of, from passing out free donuts on conference mornings to replacing visitors’ lost or broken items.


Photo by Rhea Anna

Want to know why your peers in the meetings industry believe in Buffalo as a destination for their attendees? Click here to check out the top five reasons to bring your group to Buffalo or follow us on Twitter at @MeetInBUF.

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