From Experience Columbus

The work of Experience Columbus is felt throughout the region, with Delaware County a major beneficiary.

The 2022 State of the Visitor Industry: Year-End Report made available earlier this month by Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission shows Columbus’ tourism industry rebounded in 2022, with year-over-year increases across the board compared to 2021.

From Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2022, Columbus hosted a total of 324 conventions, trade shows and sporting events, up from 215 during the same timeframe last year. Some of the top groups welcomed included AmericanHort, the leading national association for the green industry that brought in 10,000 attendees and filled 9,700 rooms and had an estimated $6.3M in direct visitor spend; the Ohio School Boards Association, which brought 9,500 attendees and filled 3,900 hotel rooms and had an estimated $3.6M in direct visitor spend; and the International City/County Management Association, which brought 3,500 attendees and filled 8,500 hotel rooms and had an estimated $5M in direct visitor spend. On the sports side, the FIFA Men’s World Cup Qualifier – USA vs. El Salvador welcomed a sellout crowd and had an estimated $3.03M in direct visitor spend. It was also the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, so women’s sports were highlighted through events like the NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship and content like the iHeart-produced Starting IX-Up podcast.

“We are pleased to share that 2022 was the year of recovery, with leisure and business travel returning following the devastating impact the pandemic had on our sector,” said Experience Columbus President and CEO Brian Ross. “Highlights include annual festivals and events once again filling our city streets, the launch of new initiatives such as our free experiential trails and citywide Accessibility Guide, and the opening of the Hilton Columbus Downtown’s new tower, which will help propel Columbus forward as one of the top destinations for meetings, conventions and sporting events. We hosted a total of 32 citywides — the same number we had in 2019 — which was a banner year for us prior to the pandemic.”

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022, the STR report shows that all key performance metrics increased year over year:

From top to bottom these are: Year-to-Date, % change, and Average in competitive set

Occupancy:

58.6%
13.1%
60.1%

Average Daily Rate (ADR):
$112.15
16.4%
$126.11

RevPAR*
$65.70
31.5%
$76.13

* RevPAR is a hotel industry performance metric, which is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s ADR by its occupancy rate.

Bed tax collections from Jan. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2022 totaled more than $48.6 million, up 45% over the same period in 2021, according to reports from the Office of City of Columbus Auditor Megan Kilgore. Looking ahead, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission booked 386 conventions, meetings, trade shows and sporting events for future years and conducted 47 site visits for meeting and event professionals representing a total of 174,501 room nights in future business.

“2022 was a banner year for the sports commission as we celebrated our 20th anniversary,” said Greater Columbus Sports Commission CEO and President Linda Logan. “We hosted dozens of events, including volleyball, track and field, pickleball, wrestling, golf, lacrosse, bowling and more. Our team and the community put considerable efforts toward two major event bids, winning both. The Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships make their Columbus debut in January 2024, and we will welcome back the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2027. We also reached record registration numbers for both of our home-grown events — Community Cup and Community Youth Camp.”

As the first quarter of 2023 gets underway, the year is already off to a strong start. From Jan. 8-11, 2023, the entire city came together to host PCMA Convening Leaders 2023, which brought together the world’s business events professionals and was attended by 3,300 participants from around the world. In the short term, the event provided a boost to Columbus’ economy with $4.2M in direct visitor spend. In the long term, hosting the event has the potential to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of the next decade as the business events professionals who attended and visited Columbus — many for the first time — go on to book their future events in Columbus as a result.
“PCMA is fortunate to have incredible partners to assist in delivering what the global business events community needs and wants to be successful,” said Sherrif Karamat, CAE, President & CEO, PCMA and CEMA. “Columbus was a natural fit for PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2023 as we continue our mission to further the importance of business events to drive global economic and social transformation. Regardless of the season, Columbus delivers on a fantastic experience.

“Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Convention Center, together with Mayor Ginther and city and state leadership clearly demonstrated they are trailblazers in using business events as a platform to develop economic opportunities that drive prosperity for its residents. We connected, explored, challenged conventional thinking, built upon existing business relationships and found new ones — and we had fun in the process.”


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