Cincinnati USA CVB works to capitalize on "home-field advantage"

Cincinnati will be on display this week as more than 400 meeting planners representing hundreds of future conventions, meetings and events convene in the Queen City for a series of tradeshows hosted by Connect Meetings, Oct. 24-26.

Planners in attendance collectively book more than 130,000 future hotel room nights, and are key decision-makers in the site selection of major events in the faith and medical markets, along with Ohio-based associations.

Future business showcased at this week’s Connect Faith, Connect Medical and Connect Ohio tradeshows represent a combined potential of more than $26 million in visitor spending.

While in Cincinnati, meeting planners will have an up-close look at the more than $2 billion invested in redevelopment of the city’s core, showcasing the potential for future meetings and events.

“Hosting this group of meeting planners is an amazing opportunity for Cincinnati, and we’re proud to give them a first-row seat to our incredible city,” said Dan Lincoln, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. “By hosting Connect Meetings, we have a head start on attracting future business for the Cincinnati region. While other destinations will be meeting with planners inside the tradeshow, we are able to show them the Cincinnati experience firsthand.”

Preparation for this week’s events has been ongoing since 2014, largely due to a strong relationship between Connect Meetings and the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“For years I’ve felt that Cincinnati is a place that delivers an outstanding experience to both meeting planners and visitors,” said Chris Collinson, president of Connect. “So much has changed in the city, and it only continues to improve as a destination. The meeting planners we serve are looking forward to arriving in Cincinnati and seeing this region’s incredible rebirth.”

Connect Faith
The largest of the three shows is Connect Faith, an annual conference and appointment-only trade show for planners representing faith-based meetings, conferences and events. The CVB will host an opening reception for the attendees at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
“Connect Faith is a very strategic fit for Cincinnati USA,” said Michael Laatsch, chief operations officer for the CVB. “We have a rich tradition of successfully hosting religious organizations. Faith-based organizations are an important part of our sales approach.”

Over the past 10 years, Cincinnati USA has hosted more than 80 faith-based organizations.

“Cincinnati is always high on my group’s list because it’s easy for most of the US to get to, there is so much to do there now and it is less expensive than the really large cities like New York and Chicago,” said Keith Kershaw, Director, Office of Convention Planning for Church of God in Christ, Inc. “Also, we always receive great support by the local community.”

Local Connections
Many religious groups like to locate their conventions in cities where they have a strong local presence. The CVB has formed deep relations with local religious organizations to help attract these national events.

“We strive to connect attendees to each other, and to our city,” said Jason Dunn, the CVB’s vice president of Multicultural Sales and Community Development. “In the just the past few years, groups like the National Baptist Convention, Church of God in Christ and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians have had incredible meetings in Cincinnati.”

The CVB’s Vibe initiative is one way to connect visitors to the city and local residents through multicultural arts events. Vibe has created free music events, food festivals and arts exhibitions while larger religious and diverse organizations conduct national conventions here. The result is attendees and residents enjoying each other through song, food, friendship and fellowship.

Three Meetings
Besides Connect Faith, the inaugural Connect Medical will be held in Cincinnati. Connect Medical is for meeting planners for health care industry organizations. Cincinnati’s incredible medical history, coupled with the excellent health care research in the region, make it a natural destination to host the first-ever Connect Medical.

The third conference is Connect Ohio, which will host corporate and national association meeting and event planners based in the Buckeye State.

Suppliers, convention and visitors bureaus, hoteliers and convention centers from around the U.S. will also be in attendance to attract meeting planners to their destinations.

“Hosting three simultaneous meetings like this is a major undertaking,” said Collinson. “We chose to do this in Cincinnati because its convention industry – led by the CVB – has the experience, incredible offerings and can-do spirit that gives us the confidence that we pull it off without a hitch.”

About the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau is 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 billion industry in Cincinnati USA, employing 77,000 people in a variety of fields and bringing 26.1 million visitors to the region annually. Visit for more.