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Welcome to our Cincinnati meeting planning guide — a Cincinnati city guide for meeting planners. The riverfront city of Cincinnati is more in demand than ever as a top Midwest destination for conventions, trade shows, and conferences. Meeting planners can take advantage of the fact that Cincinnati has many of the same features and attractions of major metropolitan centers such as New York and Chicago but does not involve the headaches of big city travel or the same price tag. Plus, with a location only 500 miles away from 60% of the U.S. population, guests will not feel the least bit inconvenienced by an invitation to this Midwestern city.
Renovations at the city's main meeting space, Duke Energy Convention Center, have propelled it to the position as the Midwest's best-in-class center. With 200,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, the center is capable of accommodating 75% of the existing convention, conference, and meetings market in the United States. Guests also enjoy its convenient downtown location, just a few blocks from many shopping and entertainment attractions and within walking distance of Cincinnati meeting hotels with over 3,500 sleeping rooms, many of which are connected by skywalks.
In addition to the convention center, Cincinnati offers large and unique meeting facilities, including Music Hall, which recently underwent a $143 million renovation. It is located in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, the largest historic district in the United States. Host an unforgettable reception for up to 500 guests at the Music Hall's lavish Springer Auditorium, home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Opera. Invite 75 people to dinner among the unique exhibits of the UnMuseum at the Contemporary Arts Center, which was hailed by The New York Times as one of the most important American buildings constructed since the end of the Cold War. Consider welcoming guests at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, home to three prominent city museums that offer flexibility in their event spaces. These Cincinnati event venues
are just the tip of the iceberg; Newport Aquarium, Anderson Pavilion at Smale Riverfront Park, the French House, and The Transept all offer magnificent spaces that can be transformed for any affair.
Cincinnati is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies and two Fortune 100 companies. Proctor & Gamble, American Financial Corporation, Duke Energy, The Kroger Co., and Macy's have headquarters in the city. The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University are there as well, while Miami University and Northern Kentucky University call the greater metropolitan area home.
Situated on the northern bank of the Ohio River on the Ohio-Kentucky border, Cincinnati was settled in 1788. Ringed by seven gentle hills, the city's riverside location made it a central point for westward expansion and trade. By 1820, young Cincinnati became America's first major "boom town," soon rivaling East Coast cities in size and wealth. Known as one of the first major inland U.S. cities to be established without heavy European influence, Cincinnati is often thought of as the first truly American city.
Over 200 years after its founding, Cincinnati has expanded well beyond its original seven hills, with a population of over 365,000 residents in the city and over 2 million in the greater metropolitan area. Holding on to its American heritage, Cincinnati is home to many professional sports teams, including a baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, and an NFL football team, the Cincinnati Bengals. Today, the paddle-wheelers, which used to crowd the docks of the city as they ferried products and people during the 19th century, continue to cruise the waters of the Ohio River as sightseeing vessels. Every year, riverboats from ports all along the Ohio and Mississippi travel to Cincinnati to celebrate their colorful heritage during the Tall Stacks Festival.
Cincinnati plays host to numerous other festivals throughout the year. During the summer months, nearly 500,000 people gather to attend the annual Taste of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Music Festival presented by Procter & Gamble. In the fall, Cincinnati celebrates its German heritage with Oktoberfest, the second-largest festival of its kind in the world, while more than 400,000 spectators gather to watch the Labor Day weekend fireworks display in conjunction with the Cincinnati Bell/WEBN Riverfest. In addition, the inaugural Blink Festival in October 2017 attracted more than a million people. Regardless of the time of year, there is always something extra to entertain visitors in this happening city.
Aside from its exciting events, Cincinnati offers a wide array of world-class cultural attractions. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Cincinnati "a town of best-kept secrets" because of its modern approach to architecture, food and attitude. The Cincinnati Art Museum stands head to head with New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Chicago Institute of Art. The Aronoff Center for the Arts attracts headliners such as Broadway musical West Side Story and comedy superstar Chris Rock. Spacious Eden Park, the city's premier green space, is home to the award-winning Krohn Conservatory and Gardens, as well as the nationally ranked Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the second-oldest zoo in America.
Famous for its creative cuisine and thriving cultural scene, Cincinnati has received many accolades. Forbes magazine named Cincinnati the best city for nightlife in the region, based on its large number of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs per capita. Its brewing heritage also earned it a spot on Business Insider's list of the 10 best beer cities in the country. Try some of Cincinnati's notorious chili at Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, or Dixie Chili. With over 140 chili restaurants to choose from, visitors are bound to find the perfect bowl to satisfy their appetites. Slice into short rib cappellacci with shallot, Amish butter and thyme at Sotto, a traditional Italian trattoria in the heart of the business district. Cool the palate with a scoop of refreshingly sweet ice cream from Graeter's Ice Cream, founded in 1870. Though the city continues to evolve into a modern metropolis, it has clearly not forgotten its roots as a kind, quaint Midwestern town.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Situated in the southwest corner of the state on the Ohio River, Cincinnati has a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. During its warm, humid summers, the average high is 85°F. Winters can range from harsh to mild with occasional snowfall and average temperatures in the low 30s.
With an average of 41 inches of annual rainfall and 16 inches of snow, precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Cincinnati's moderate climate welcomes visitors all year, though its outdoor offerings and majestic parks are best enjoyed during spring, summer, and fall.
Sharonville Convention Center
Total Meeting Space – 65,000 Sq. Ft.
Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati- Spectra Venue Management
Located in the midst of downtown's exuberant renaissance, the Duke Energy Convention Center can accommodate 75% of the existing convention, conference, and meetings market in the United States. In keeping with Cincinnati's sense of architectural flair, the redesigned center stands out as the newest iconic shape on the skyline. With the name "Cincinnati" spelled out in 50-foot-tall letters on glistening metal panels along its western facade, the center boldly celebrates the city it calls home.
The 750,000-square-foot convention center features 200,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space. At 40,000 square feet, its Grand Ballroom is one of the largest in the Midwest, and an additional 17,400-square-foot ballroom can accommodate smaller groups. The center also includes 30 deluxe breakout rooms with the flexibility to accommodate 24 to 4,100 people; a full-service banquet kitchen that can serve 5,000 guests in a single sitting; and a spacious loading dock with 17 berths and three semi-truck portals that lead directly to exhibition space.
The convention center partners with Convention Communication Provisioners to provide planners with the latest technology, exemplary customer service, and on-site technical and audiovisual support staff. Meeting planners have the latest technology at their fingertips, including fiber-optic networking, customized electronic signage, broadband teleconferencing, dozens of wireless hot spot locations, high-speed WANS, VLAN, VPN, ISDN rental equipment, stable network IP address assignment and delivery, and network-wide monitoring for maximized reliability.
Planners, exhibitors, and attendees enjoy the center's central downtown location with easy access to thousands of hotel rooms and 5,000 parking spots. Many hotels, including the Hyatt, Westin, Hilton, and Millennium, are connected by skywalks. After a day of meetings and activities, conventioneers can walk outside into a vibrant downtown community of world-class dining, shopping, live theater, and nightlife.
Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Located 13 miles south of downtown Cincinnati in northern Kentucky, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) offers approximately 180 daily nonstop flights to 53 cities, including Paris and Toronto. Carriers currently serving passengers at CVG include Air Canada, Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest, United, and US Airways.
Free Wi-Fi is available in all ticketing and baggage claim areas, as well as at all gates. For even faster access and VPN connectivity, visitors can check out CVG's Premium Wi-Fi service.
Parking is available in the Terminal Garage and the ValuPark Long-Term Lot, as well as through curbside valet service. The 6,000-space Terminal Garage has a maximum fare of $15 per day ($22 per day for curbside valet), and the ValuPark lot has a maximum fee of $8 per day.
Cincinnati's Amtrak office is located at Union Terminal/Cincinnati Museum Center, 1 mile south of downtown, and services two lines. The Cardinal Line provides service between Chicago to the west and Washington, D.C. and New York City to the east. The Hoosier State Line provides daily service between Cincinnati and Indianapolis. All trains arrive before public transportation is available, so arriving passengers may need to call a taxi to arrive at or leave the station.
The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority operates the bus system in the city. It's an environmentally friendly option, as nearly 300 of greater Cincinnati's public buses operate on biodiesel, an alternative fuel made from fats or oils, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. SORTA provides public bus service daily from the airport (outside of the Terminal 3 baggage claim area) to downtown from 5 a.m. to midnight. The fare is $1.25. The newly renovated Government Square on Walnut Street is the main downtown bus hub for Metro buses. Within Cincinnati, the bus fare is $1.
Cincinnati guests and residents board the Southbank Shuttle bus to travel to northern Kentucky dining and entertainment areas such as Newport on the Levee, a multi-venue complex that houses retail, dining, and entertainment outlets; Hofbrauhaus Newport; the Newport Aquarium; and MainStrasse Village. A few stops are made in the downtown Cincinnati area as well.
Southbank Shuttle service runs every 15 to 20 minutes Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday from 6 a.m. to midnight; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight. The fare is $1 per person.
Airport Executive Shuttle provides transportation to hotels and attractions in the greater Cincinnati area and other locations throughout the region. The fare to downtown Cincinnati is $22.
Eight major airport rental car companies — Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty — are accessible via a short shuttle ride from the terminals. Courtesy phones for making rental arrangements are located near airport exits in baggage claim areas.
For taxi service, guests can visit the taxi desk in the baggage claim area or use the courtesy phone in the Terminal 2 baggage claim area. The airport is also Uber- and Lyft-friendly.
The Cincinnati Bell Connector is an electric streetcar that runs on a 3.6-mile loop through the city's key communities. The streetcar runs every 12 to 15 minutes, and the route has 18 stops downtown and in The Banks and Over-the-Rhine. It operates Monday to Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Red Bike is Cincinnati's bicycle sharing system, which has 442 bikes at 57 stations throughout the city. Day passes are $8.
Photo Credit : Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau
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