Record bed-tax revenue, ASAE and J.D. Power recognition highlight year’s achievements 

COLUMBUS – Last year was a game-changer for Columbus in many ways, as the city continues its rise as an emerging destination for conventions, sporting events and leisure visitors. Last night, at its Annual Meeting, Experience Columbus celebrated the community’s many successes of 2016 and shined a spotlight on local makers and products made in Columbus.  

Despite what was anticipated to be a flat year for the city’s hotel and lodging industry due to construction at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus’ visitor industry surpassed records and goals in 2016. According to Smith Travel Research (STR), from January 1 to December 31, 2016, Greater Columbus hotel production remained steady with slight increases over the previous year. Hotel occupancy increased 1.69 percent, the average daily rate (ADR) at Greater Columbus hotels grew 2.52 percent and RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) rose 4.26 percent over the previous year. In addition, bed tax collections were at an all-time high of $44.5 million, up 4.3 percent from 2015. 

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* RevPAR is a hotel industry performance metric, which is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s ADR by its occupancy rate divided by the number of rooms available

Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission beat production quotas, booking a record 492,775 room nights. Also, Experience Columbus welcomed 184 new members, totaling 1,074 members and partners. 

One of the biggest wins of the year was Columbus being awarded the 2019 American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting & Exposition. The annual conference will draw over 5,000 attendees to the Greater Columbus Convention Center, filling 16,800 hotel rooms and generating over $16 million in direct visitor spend. Hosting ASAE puts Columbus on the map with key decision makers and influencers planning meetings for their national associations, which could result in as much as $500 million in visitor spend for future bookings. 

In October, a study by J.D. Power ranked Columbus, “Highest in Visitor Satisfaction in the Midwest.” The success is testimony to the power of a community-wide commitment to the visitor experience through participation in the Experience DedicatedTM Destination (EDD) and Certified Tourism AmbassadorTM (CTA) programs. At the Annual Meeting, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission recognized Billy King, security administrative supervisor at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, as the Greater Columbus CTA of the Year, and Visit Gahanna, as the Greater Columbus CTA Employer of the Year. 

The organization’s work to raise the city’s profile and bolster its image generated strong results. A new was named among the best destination marketing organization websites in the world. And the organization hosted 67 writers, including the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the city’s first-ever convention-trade press trip.    

Recognizing the Best of US 

Each year, the Experience Columbus EXPY Awards acknowledge outstanding contributions to the Greater Columbus visitor experience. This year’s recipients are:  

  • The Columbus Foundation – 2016 National CEOs for Cities Meeting 
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library and The Ohio State University Libraries – The 82nd IFLA World Library and Information Congress 
  • John Glenn Columbus International Airport 
  • Columbus Downtown Development Corporation – Downtown Columbus Riverfront / Scioto Greenways 
  • Ohio Quarter Horse Association – 50th Annual All American Quarter Horse Congress 
  • The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts – 20th Anniversary of Festival Latino 
  • Columbus Symphony Orchestra – 5th Anniversary of Picnic with the Pops at Columbus Commons 

To view the full 2016 Annual Report, click here.  


Experience Columbus is the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region, dedicated to growing visitor spending and enhancing the visitor experience. In 2016, Columbus was ranked “Highest in Visitor Satisfaction in the Midwest” by J.D. Power in the 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction StudySM.  Annually, visitors make more than 39.3 million trips to Greater Columbus for conventions, tradeshows, sporting events and leisure visits, spending $6.4 billion generating $9.7 billion in economic impact and supporting nearly 75,000 jobs. For more information, visit 

Columbus, OH received the highest numerical score among eight cities in the Midwest in the J.D. Power 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction Study, based on 26,124 total responses, measuring the experiences and perceptions of travelers who visited a top 50 U.S. destination, surveyed February-July 2016. Your experiences may vary. Visit