For those already missing the excitement of Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress (or those who are kicking themselves because they wish they had been in Las Vegas last week), organizers left you with something to look forward to. Visit Indy will be hosting WEC 2018 June 2 through 5, 2018 at the Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
We sat down with Visit Indy President and CEO Leonard Hoops to find out what we can expect when we get there and his answer was that just as drivers at the Indy 500 make 800 left turns in every race, visitors will find surprises around every turn.
1. Incredible Accessibility
Indianapolis International Airport (IND) is consistently rated No. 1 in reader satisfaction surveys and by the Airport Council International. The reason is simple. Because it was the first airport built after the September 11, 2001 attack, designers built in the spaces needed to address security in a post-9-11 world. Travelers are fueled by local restaurants so they can get a taste of the local cuisine before they even leave the terminal. And it is a legitimate 15 minutes to downtown hotels.
In the last three years, as the group room-nights metric increased from 600,000 to 900,000 and tech companies expanded (including Salesforce’s second-largest site in the world), the number of flights to the West Coast has dramatically increased with multiple airlines competing for that business. Hoops also let us in on the news that a trans-Atlantic non-stop flight is in the works.
2. Deep Convention Infrastructure Roots
Indianapolis’s economy started as a supplier to the Detroit auto industry. Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a test track for auto manufacturers and now holds the biggest one-day annual sporting event in the world, The Indy 500, which drew 350,000 for the 100th running this year. Then-Mayor Richard Lugar saw the economy changing in the late 1960s and made a commitment to transform the downtown into a place for holding conventions and sporting events. Today, 12 hotels with 4,700 rooms are connected to the convention center by a skyway. It is home to 250 restaurants in walking distance of the conference center and was named Conde Nast Traveler’s Most Underrated Food City and one of Zagat’s Hottest Food Cities.
The Lucas Oil Stadium opened in 2008 (it was built before they had even secured The Colts as a local team). Seven NCAA final four events have been held there. The convention center is going through its fifth expansion and is connected to the stadium, which brings capacity to 749,000 without ever stepping foot outside, making temperature a non-issue. All of this led to it being named USA Today’s No. 1 convention city in 2014.
3. Hoosier Hospitality
Visit Indy wants to build on that sports and blue collar industrial meeting base by raising its profile with corporate meeting planners. The city already hosts three trade shows a year with over 60,000 attendees and numerous national associations based in Chicago and D.C. come back annually for their conventions. “Corporate planners tend to book with shorter timelines so they can fill in holes and aren’t quite as rate sensitive,” Hoops says. “And once they are here, they are always impressed by the Hoosier hospitality and the convenience of the many amenities.”
Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI saw the location as a perfect fit because so much of the membership is in that part of the country. Hoops is sure that once attendees get a taste of the city’s extensive hospitality infrastructure and award-winning cocktail sauce, they will want to bring their groups back. See you in Indy.