Meeting Industry News
An Inside Look at Cleveland’s Meetings IndustryBy Keith Gribens
Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, Director of Education, Training & Events at Practice Greenhealth, is taking advantage of Cleveland’s nearly $3 billion in meetings-related development as she plans for CleanMed 2014 at Cleveland’s brand new Global Center for Health Innovation, June 2-5.
A New Cleveland
Satisfied guests define successful events. It’s a formula that is transforming the city of Cleveland into one of the country’s best meeting destinations, along with an impressive mix of modern convention facilities, diverse entertainment options, thousands of hotel rooms and (most importantly) an all-are-welcome attitude.
“Cleveland, in my eyes, is the perfect convention city,” said Abernathy. “With the new Global Center for Health Innovation and the amazing hotel package downtown — there is no reason why planners should not source Cleveland for their next event. On top of that, in terms of environmental sustainability, Cleveland is the leader among other Midwest and second-tier cities.”
Sustainable Convention Facilities
In the heart of Cleveland’s meetings industry, is the new $465 million FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland and Global Center for Health Innovation. A hightech and eco-engineered convention complex, the convention center provides a 225,000-squarefoot exhibit hall floor, 35 meeting rooms and direct access to the Global Center – a healthcare provider’s playground for innovation, sustainability and hands-on exhibits.
Choosing the Global Center for Health Innovation to host CleanMed 2014 was a no-brainer for Carrie Abernathy due in large part to its ecofriendly initiatives. “From firsthand experience, I can say that the Global Center for Health Innovation is one of my favorite meeting centers in terms of space and also ease of use,” explained Abernathy. “For our groups, the space, sustainability initiatives, and cost were all major factors in choosing Cleveland. You have to see it in person to understand how fresh and new it feels. You can tell the city really put a lot of heart into that venue.”
Crowds Are Our Specialty
Cleveland’s undeniable heart, soul and grit along with nearly $3 billion in meetings-related infrastructure developments are transforming the city. Anchoring this investment is the development of six new hotel properties adding nearly 2,000 hotel rooms to downtown Cleveland between now and 2016. Included in the mix is a 600-room Hilton Cleveland Downtown expanding Cleveland’s hotel package, while demanding a spot on meeting planners’ radar.
“I would feel just as comfortable bringing a 10,000 person show to Cleveland, as I do a 1,000 person Show,” said Abernathy. “The Cleveland hotel package is exceptional with two large hotels in the works, and with the bulk of hotels within 3-5 blocks from the convention center. Almost everything is walkable in Cleveland and that is such a plus for our conventions.”
A Walkable Urban Landscape
According to Walk Score, a popular website for ranking pedestrian-friendly cities, downtown Cleveland is considered a “walker’s paradise.” The FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland and Global Center for Health Innovation is located within a 15-minute walk of 15 downtown hotels offering 3,785 rooms and is surrounded by a city buzzing with food and nightlife options.
Pedestrians, free downtown trolleys, and cab traffic can access multiple entertainment hubs – like the famed Food Network restaurants on East Fourth Street, the trendy clubs of the Warehouse District and the world-famous theaters of PlayhouseSquare. Add to that, a crew of dedicated city ambassadors work around the clock to keep downtown clean, safe and comfortable.
A Seamless Leisure Experience
“Cleveland provides such a great package because there really is something for every attendee,” said Abernathy. “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the waterfront and the convention space are all reasons why I would bring a group here. Besides that, Cleveland has many headquartered companies downtown and there is a lot of commerce and financial institutions. If you are looking for arts and music, Cleveland has world-class facilities in the area. If you are looking for a casino and shopping right in the heart of the city, you will find both.”
Those hotspots are complemented with sports venues like Progressive Field, FirstEnergy Stadium, and Quicken Loans Arena that are home to the Cleveland Indians, Cavaliers and Browns. And just outside of downtown, communities like University Circle, Ohio City and Little Italy offer everything from prestigious museums to celebrated bistros and famous craft breweries.
“I would suggest getting out to Cleveland to have a firsthand view of the city,” said Abernathy when describing her time spent in Cleveland and the city as an overall meetings destination. “Once you have the experience, you will see what I mean!”