Focus on Akron/Summit County

Focus on Akron/Summit CountyMichael Bennett

The Republican National Convention is not just a "Cleveland thing." Community Update checks in occasionally with cities and counties around the region to share what they are doing to engage, assist and prepare within their communities. Gregg Mervis, president and CEO of the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau, shares this update.

Why is the RNC Convention in Cleveland important for Akron/Summit County?

Having participated from the very beginning of the bid process, since Greater Akron's full and select service hotels were necessary to reach the total number of required rooms for the Convention, the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau (A/SCVB) is thrilled to be a voice for Summit County's hospitality industry.

Before, during and after the Convention, eyes from around the world will be focused on Northeast Ohio. We understand the role our community will play in providing opportunities for delegates and visitors to enjoy our unique sights, sounds and experiences. We want everyone to leave with wonderful lasting memories.

Additionally, the positive impact on our local economy will be substantial. Expenditures on accommodations, dining, retail and entertainment contribute to the continuing growth and vitality of our visitor economy.  

What do you hope to gain in the short and long term?

When this bright of a spotlight is cast upon a community - and we're incredibly aware of how fortunate Cleveland and all of northeast Ohio is to have been chosen to host the Convention - it's important to leverage this special moment in time. First and foremost, Greater Akron's hospitality industry wants to be poised to deliver exceptional customer service at every point during a person's stay.

From stepping up to the hotel front desk to dining in a local restaurant, we want visitors to know how much we value this opportunity to welcome them into our communities. It's then our hope that people will visit again when they have more time to explore and enjoy everything our area has to offer. And we're very confident they will.

What is Akron/Summit County doing in preparation for it?

With respect to the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau's efforts, we have a variety of strategies to ensure we put our best foot forward. Our Destination Development Committee met earlier this year to discuss ideas to engage visitors with our hospitality assets. Since Cleveland was officially awarded the event, we have met regularly with our hotel partners to ensure we are implementing best practices across all aspects of a visitor's stay.

Businesses and non-profit organizations continue to reach out to us to identify ways in which they, too, can contribute to our planning momentum. Most importantly, we are developing a formal marketing campaign to communicate all of these efforts to the Convention delegates and visitors. With the Convention at its core, the campaign will leverage all of the special annual events our community has the honor of hosting, including the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby, World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, National Hamburger Festival and Twins Days Festival to name a few.

Why is it important for communities across Northeast Ohio to rally together in welcoming the Republican National Convention?

Not unlike the historic collaboration between Cleveland and Akron in 2014 to host the most successful Gay Games in the history of the event, our communities have another opportunity to gain the positive attention of the world. Blurring the geographical line between our communities will benefit Convention visitors by providing a broader array of things for them to see, do and experience.

Greater Akron is proud to be partnering with Cleveland and all of our Northeast Ohio colleagues and friends to roll out a red carpet unlike any before. It is our collective responsibility to leave visitors wanting more - planning repeat visits - and enjoying our brand of hospitality, which is second to none.