COLUMBUS – Experience Columbus announced today the winners of its annual EXPY Awards, recognizing outstanding contributions by businesses, groups, organizations or individuals to the local hospitality industry and the Greater Columbus visitor experience in 2017.

The EXPY Award winners demonstrate the best of ColumbUS and serve as role models for creativity and collaboration in the community. They bring awareness to the importance of the local visitor economy, which generates $6.4 billion in direct visitor spending each year.

The winners will be celebrated at the Experience Columbus 2018 Annual Meeting on March 15. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

The recipients are:

New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day - 20th Anniversary

Celebrating its 20th year, the New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day has put Columbus on the map for international equine competitions.  Hosted at the family home of Les and Abigail Wexner, The Classic drew top equestrians from around the world, more than 18,000 guests from throughout the region and 300 volunteers to the all-day event on Sept. 24. The Classic has been named the No. 1 Specialty Equestrian Event by the North American Riders Group four years in a row and has raised more than $30 million to date for The Center for Family Safety and Healing. 

Short North Alliance -  10th Anniversary of HighBall Halloween
HighBall Halloween marked its 10th anniversary with an extravagant two-day party in the middle of High Street Oct. 20-21. What started as a single-night fashion show in 2008 is now a weekend boldly celebrating Columbus’ signature fashion, style, diversity and energy. With outlandish costumes and dynamic live performances, HighBall Halloween showcased more than 200 Columbus artists, models, designers, and performers. The event welcomed a record 40,000 revelers and gained local, regional and national media attention.

Franklin County Board of Commissioners -  82nd National Association of Counties Conference

In partnership with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, Columbus hosted more than 3,000 top County elected officials from across the United States July 21-24 for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference and Exposition. NACo was an excellent example of the “Make It Columbus” strategy, designed to encourage local leaders to leverage their connections to national associations to bring important groups to the city. As the first conference in the completely renovated Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Annual Conference and Exposition represented more than $3 million in direct visitor spending at local hotels, attractions and restaurants.

Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority -  Greater Columbus Convention Center Expansion and Renovation

In July, the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority completed a $140 million renovation and expansion of the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) transforming the space into a state-of-the-art facility. A new 800-car parking garage and more than 37,000 square feet of exhibition space and 10,000 square feet of meeting space was added, bringing the facility’s totals to 373,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space. Local art is at the forefront with nearly 400 original works by Columbus and Ohio artists, including a signature piece titled “As We Are,” a 14-foot interactive LED sculpture. These improvements are already paying off in larger convention bookings, including landing the American Society of Association Executives 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Hotel LeVeque

Since its completion in 1927, the LeVeque Tower has been one of the most iconic buildings in Columbus’ skyline recognized for its spectacular Art Deco architecture. In 2012, the building was transformed through a detailed, historic renovation that included the creation of Hotel LeVeque, a Marriott Autograph Collection property. The 149-room boutique hotel features The Keep, a French brasserie and bar, and unique collaborations, such as uniforms created by a local fashion designer and custom-blended room candles made locally by The Candle Lab, as well as soaps and amenities by Columbus’ own Cliff Original. Since opening, Hotel LeVeque has attracted business, convention and leisure visitors and garnered national media attention, including Architectural Digest naming it the most beautiful hotel in Ohio.

The Ohio State University Student Life - Columbus Welcome

Each year, Central Ohio attracts more than 100,000 four-year visitors to our thriving higher educational systems. At The Ohio State University, incoming first-year students are warmly and enthusiastically welcomed through innovative programming designed to build excitement for students’ new hometown, highlighting services for transportation, access and affordability in the community and promoting opportunities for engagement. The lively, interactive event provides them with the tools, inspiration and information to fully explore Columbus throughout their time at OSU and, hopefully, as future residents. 2017 marked the fifth year of the Columbus Welcome and brought together a record 7,500 students, alumni, staff and local community leaders to celebrate all Columbus has to offer.


Experience Columbus is the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region, dedicated to growing visitor spending that is generated by conventions, meetings, trade shows and leisure visitors.  Annually, visitors make more than 39.9 million trips to Greater Columbus, spending $6.4 billion generating $9.7 billion in economic impact and supporting 75,000 jobs. For more information, visit