In the last two years, the community opened the Rock `n Roll Hall of Fame & Museum and Gateway sports complex. "Our best chance of closing the sale is our product demonstration," he says.
The convention bureau has developed a marketing team that tackles both the convention business and the leisure travel market.
Through direct mail and advertising programs in trade publications, Zion's five-person convention sales staff targets events needing from 700 to 1,500 peak-night hotel rooms.
When a convention planner is brought into Cleveland, the work starts. Noni Nicolaou, senior meeting planner for National Telephone Cooperative Association, says her familiarization tour was impressive.
It "really highlighted every attraction," she says, noting NTCA will bring 500 attendees to Cleveland for a 1998 meeting.
Hotel rooms booked for conventions are up 18% in the last two years, Mr. Zion says.
To lure leisure travelers, the bureau and agency Liggett-Stashower put together a $1 million multimedia campaign for key Midwest markets. As a result, Cleveland is No. 2, behind Olympics host city Atlanta, on American Automobile Association's list of summer "hot spots."
"Our goal is to be the best destination choice between New York and Chicago," Mr. Zion says.