Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 05 2016

How This Leading Convention Destination Innovated to Attract Business Year Round


Meeting in cold-weather cities during the winter months may seem out of the question at first. But what could be an obstacle to those cities in booking convention business during this time of year has created an opportunity to rethink the design of the convention district.

For example, consider Indianapolis. The city’s convention calendar is full in January, and the schedule is equally packed in February and into March. A strategically designed system of climate-controlled skywalks connecting more hotel rooms to the convention center than any other city in the U.S. (4,700 rooms at 12 properties) makes the city an ideal convention destination year-round. Developing the convention district in the heart of the downtown connected to or in close proximity to 250 dining options, 100 shops, and 50 attractions makes it even more appealing. 

Shuttles, umbrellas, and winter coats become obsolete, saving planners money and keeping attendees happy. The convenience and walkability of Indy’s convention package creates an energetic atmosphere difficult to match.

Everyone’s Taking Notice of Indy

The connectivity is only part of the reason why Indianapolis was named the #1 convention city in the U.S. by USA Today. Other reasons include ease of access - more than half of the country is within a day’s drive of Indy, and the Indianapolis International Airport was named best in the country by Condé Nast and Airports Council International last year. And first tier infrastructure – from a recently expanded convention center offering 566,600 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space to more than $70 million invested in hotel upgrades.

The city’s growth isn’t slowing down. Indianapolis has more than $100 million in hotel development in the pipeline representing an additional 800 rooms downtown, bringing the total to nearly 8,000 hotel rooms in walking distance of the convention center. 

As more than 30,000 cheerleaders and their families arrive for JAMfest Cheer Super Nationals January 15-17, they will be thankful for Indianapolis’ visionary convention and event district design.

More Than a Day in May

Indianapolis may be best recognized as the racing capital of the world and home of the Indy 500 auto race, especially internationally. Much like the city innovated to become a year-round destination, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its nearby Main Street have transformed into a year-round destination.

The world’s largest single-day sporting event has taken place the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend each year for the past century, leaving planners and attendees wondering how to engage this iconic attraction when convening in Indianapolis the other 364 days of the year.

This April will welcome the groundbreaking of a new $50 million mixed-use development featuring a 120-room hotel, condos, and retail space just across the street from the Speedway’s main entrance.

April will also mean the grand opening of Speedway Indoor Karting, a new state-of-the-art karting facility owned by a former Indy 500 driver and current team owner and go-to event destination for VIP receptions, spouse tours, and corporate teambuilding. Other recent additions include the Dallara IndyCar Factory with 35,000 sq. ft. of interactive event space, Daredevil Brewing Co.’s microbrewery, and former Indy 500 driver A.J. Foyt’s Wine Vault.

On the track, the Indy Racing Experience and new Victory Laps allow groups to arrange track laps in real IndyCars ranging from 60 to 180 mph. The Hall of Fame Museum offers group tours showcasing a century of the history and tradition at the iconic oval. And for groups planning a golf outing, Brickyard Crossing offers four holes inside the Speedway and is part of the Pete Dye Golf Trail, honoring the famed architect and Indy resident.

Both Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway envisioned year-round activation, and innovative approaches made it reality. To see for yourself, enter to win a VIP experience at the 2016 100th running of the Indy 500. Enter here by February 29th.

Interested in learning about Visit Indy’s innovative approach to connecting with convention delegates? Check out “Why This New Buzz Word is Crucial to Attracting Attendees.”

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