The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) held its Annual Meeting today at the Cincinnati Music Hall Ballroom in front of regional business professionals, civic leaders and members of the Cincinnati USA hospitality industry.

Themed “A World-Class Experience, Crafted Here,” the meeting highlighted the impact and recent growth of the hospitality industry in Cincinnati USA, including the success of the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the CVB’s strong convention sales results, and new data on the economic impact of tourism to the region.

"This meeting is a great opportunity to reflect on the our industry's momentum and look ahead to future progress," said Dan Lincoln, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA CVB. "Last year's success was driven by regional partnerships and our destination's exciting new developments. We will continue to lead the way on plans and initiatives that ensure this momentum is sustainable for generations to come." 

A Record-Setting Year for Convention Sales
Edgar Smith, Chairman of the CVB Board of Directors, revealed record-setting 2015 convention sales results at the meeting, emphasizing the continued growth of the tourism industry in Cincinnati USA.

Regional Convention & Meetings Sales highlights included:

Average daily hotel room rate for CVB-produced room nights increased 10.2% while hotel occupancy remained steady, driven primarily by the CVB’s strategy to increase demand for the growing number of new hotels and venues.
  • Total hotel room nights booked for future conventions increased 16% over 2014, representing $79 million in future visitor spending. 
  • The CVB generates a 112% increase in sales leads for future leads (representing 723 meeting groups), indicating an increased national interest in the region as a meetings destination.
  • Average daily hotel room rate for CVB-produced room nights increased 10.2% while hotel occupancy remained steady, driven primarily by the CVB’s strategy to increase demand for the growing number of new hotels and venues. 
  • Click here for additional 2015 industry results.
The high number of convention bookings achieved in 2015 are evidence of the growing demand for the destination, yet industry leaders pointed to the need for future infrastructure improvements to sustain positive results.

“On their own, the results are remarkable, but in the context of how our resources stack up against other destinations, they are even more impressive,” said Edgar Smith, Chair of the CVB’s Board of Directors. “The record-setting numbers we’re sharing today push the limits of what our infrastructure can handle, and we look forward to working with the City and County to build capacity for growth.”

Other guest speakers included Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who provided the welcome address, followed by an update on Hamilton County by President of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Chris Monzel.

New Leisure Travel Offerings Make Cincinnati USA the "Place to Be"
With the high visitation from bookings such as the MLB All-Star Game, as well as the continued growth in new attractions, restaurants, and entertainment districts, Cincinnati USA enjoyed a surge of new visitors in 2015. Key leisure travel data and visitor services successes shared at the meeting include:
  • A study released in 2015 revealed that the region welcomes more than 24 million visitors annually, who contribute $4.4 billion to the regional economy.
  • The Visitors Center on Fountain Square assisted more than 10,000 individuals.
  • The launch of the new Cincy USA Tourism Ambassador Program in April 2015 trained 800 ambassadors in its first year, making it one of the fastest growing Certified Tourism Ambassador programs in the country.
To commend the success of the regional hospitality industry, the CVB concluded the meeting with a “Celebration of the Industry” networking reception, with samples from regional businesses. Participating organizations included: Taste of Belgium, V’s Café on 7th, Steam Whistle Letterpress, Troy's Cafe, Listermann Brewing, Crave Cincinnati, Sweet Petit Desserts, Wellmann's Brands, and New Riff Distillery.

2015 Spirit of Cincinnati USA Award Winners
The annual Spirit Awards program recognizes influencers and advocates for the regional hospitality industry. The following individuals and organizations were honored as 2015 winners at the meeting: 

Erich Kunzel Queen City Advocate Award: Cincinnati Reds Owner Mr. Bob Castellini
The 2015 MLB All-Star Game festivities brought in thousands of visitors and journalists from around the world, and Mr. Castellini’s determination to bring this event to Cincinnati was the driving force behind the booking and the resulting news coverage of the region.

Wendell P. Dabney Award for Diversity: Marian Spencer
Winner Marian Spencer has been a lifelong advocate for civil rights, and of her many achievements, one of the best known was her leadership in the desegregation of Coney Island amusement park. Marian's book, Keep On Fighting, was released in June 2015 and documents her life.

Pinnacle Award for Outstanding Service: Kathy Davis
Kathy Davis of Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse was recognized for her dedication to exceptional service and her many volunteer engagements to benefit the Cincinnati community.

Partnership Award: Community Organizing Committee Co-Chairs Melanie Chavez, Delores Hargrove-Young, Sharry Addison, and Lauren Bosse
These four co-chairs led hundreds of volunteers to bring an All-Star experience to the region, partnering with the CVB, the Reds, and civic leaders to bring big ideas to life.

The Horace Sudduth Progressive Business Award: WLWT-TV Channel 5.
WLWT-TV incorporates values of diversity and inclusion into hiring practices and culture and encourages employees to invest in the community in meaningful ways.

Champion Award for Convention & Meeting Sales
2015 recipients included Joe Garera of the Tri-State Fragile X Conference, Ellen Graf of the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, Rev. Frederick A. Wright, Sr., Ph. D. of Quinn Chapel AME Church, Rev. Alphonse Allen of Allen Temple AME, and Bishop McKinley Young of Third District AME.