The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau hosted a power-packed Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the Duke Energy Convention Center, with nearly 500 business professionals, civic leaders and members of the regional hospitality industry in attendance.

In celebration of the CVB’s 75th anniversary, the Annual Meeting reflected on the hospitality industry’s significant accomplishments through the years and outlined the CVB’s strategy for selling and promoting the Cincinnati region throughout the decade and beyond.

“In 2020 the CVB will operate more like hoteliers, and it’s an approach that we believe has many benefits,” said Julie Calvert, President and CEO of the Cincinnati USA CVB. “We’re targeting smaller citywide groups, and more of them, by using industry intelligence reports and innovative prospecting tools. With this approach, we’ll go beyond telling why Cincinnati is a good fit as a host destination and actively demonstrating that we are a better fit than cities in our competitive set.”

Longtime tourism supporter and leader, former Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, was honored at the Annual Meeting by Calvert, City of Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus. In his honor, Mayor Cranley announced the renaming of Duke Energy Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom as the Todd B. Portune Grand Ballroom.

At the Annual Meeting, the CVB also announced the selection of Cincinnati as the host city for the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals 2020 Annual Convention, scheduled for November 18-21. As the preeminent organization for educating African American association executives and meeting planners, this group represents some of the nation’s most elite meetings and convention professionals. In total, the CVB has booked 224 meetings and conventions for 2020, which will bring more than 225,000 attendees to the Cincinnati region this year for an estimated $75 million in visitor spending.

“2020 is shaping up to be a landmark year,” said Mario San Marco, Board Chair of the Cincinnati USA CVB. “After a decade of building momentum for positive developments in our convention district, together we’ve set the stage for something special. We’re looking forward to working with our partners to continue promoting Cincinnati as a top choice destination.”

Don Welsh, President and CEO of Destinations International, served as the event’s keynote speaker and presented the CVB with the highly respected DMAP accreditation. In 2019, the CVB completed the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program, an industry distinction from Destinations International that defines quality and performance standards for destination marketing organizations. 

“Earning this accreditation better equips our CVB to approach the next several years with strategic advocacy and leadership for our hospitality industry and the Cincinnati region,” Calvert said.

The CVB also recognized influencers and advocates of the local hospitality region through the Spirit of Cincinnati USA Awards. This year’s awards program reflected the Annual Meeting’s “Unleashing the Power of We” theme with a diverse group of winners represented.

Champion Award
  • Bobby Spann, CVG (International Aviation Forecast Summit)
  • Glenn Storrs, Cincinnati Museum Center (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology)
  • Katy Roberto Marston; Jamie Miller; Amber Lovett, University of Cincinnati (North American Manufacturing Research Conference)
  • LaTonya Denson and Tracy Turney Smith (Alpha Kappa Alpha)
  • Pure Romance
Erich Kunzel Queen City Advocate Award
  • Barbara Cooper, Cincinnati Food Tours
Horace Sudduth Progressive Business Award
  • Anthony Berin, Social OTR
Partnership Award
  • Cincinnati Public Schools
  • Tony Ramstetter, Prestige AV & Creative Services
Pinnacle Award for Outstanding Service
  • Antonio Kimbrough, AC Hotel Cincinnati at The Banks
  • Kara Pierson, Cincinnati Art Museum
  • Nate Leopold, Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse
Wendell P. Dabney Award for Diversity
  • Marianne Hamilton, Findlay Kitchen
  • Amy Stull, Findlay Kitchen

About the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau
The  Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau is a sales, marketing and service organization whose primary responsibility is to positively impact Hamilton County's and the City of Cincinnati's economy through convention, trade show and visitor expenditures. The travel and tourism industry traditionally has been a $5.3 billion industry in Cincinnati USA, employing more than 80,000 people in a variety of fields and bringing 26.6 million visitors to the region annually. Visit for more.