Nolan seeks to make Toledo a national destinationWritten by Gail Burkhardt | | email@example.com
Since he became president of Destination Toledo Inc. about a year ago, David Nolan has worked to revitalize Northwest Ohio.
In his first few months at work, Nolan decided to change the name from Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau to Destination Toledo to better describe the corporation’s mission, he said.
“It connotes much more of what we do and what we’re about than the longer version and it gets us away from a consumer kind of implicit view that we’re a government agency filled with bureaucracy,” he said, adding that the name also allies Destination Toledo with
The new name provides more opportunities because a destination can be for meetings, conventions, tourism and much more, said Cathy Miller, the director of tourism at Destination Toledo. Nolan has changed Destination Toledo greatly since he arrived in January 2009, said Miller who has worked there for almost 10 years.
“He is a visionary. I think that he has taken us just in one year where I haven’t seen us go in 10 years,” she said, adding that Nolan sees the “big picture.”
Destination Toledo’s position on Issue 3, the amendment to Ohio’s constitution to allow casinos into the state, was significant for Toledo’s economy, Nolan said. The office supported Issue 3, but only if casino owner Penn National Gaming Inc. would not build a hotel on the site, unless Toledo-area hotels reach 70 percent occupancy. The hotels currently have 45 percent occupancy, he said.
Destination Toledo did not want the casino to become an “island” with its own hotel and attractions.
Nolan also worked with Penn National to provide a shuttle from hotels in Downtown Toledo to the casino for three years, he said.
To bring more business to area hotels and to area attractions, Destination Toledo launched a marketing campaign worth about $357,000 this month to encourage meeting planners to bring their events here, Nolan said.
The campaign will feature ads in national magazines for meeting planners such as Meetings and Conventions Magazine. The campaign also includes agreements by hotels and other meeting spaces to attract meetings and conventions, he said.
Upscale hotels with meeting spaces agreed to eliminate cancellation fees in 2010 and offer up to 50 percent off rooms among other benefits to meeting planners
Hotel manager Brenda Fey said she usually provides benefits, such as eliminating cancellation fees on a case-by-case basis so making that a set rule was not a problem. Fey manages the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg, which has meeting space for 700 people and has 299 rooms, she said.
“We’ve got a lot of space to fill and … we hope this initiative does just that,” she said.
The ad campaign should reach about 1.3 million people, Nolan said.
Along with providing incentives the campaign will highlight Toledo’s tourist attractions, art community and strengths over other cities.
Arts and entertainment
Destination Toledo has worked with the Toledo Symphony to have it play during the fireworks Downtown. The corporation also works with the jazz society, the Valentine Theater and the Toledo Museum of Art along with other entities, Nolan said.
River festivals like Rally by the River again and promote amateur and professional sports in the region.
The Lucas County Arena and the Mud Hens Stadium already are helping Downtown, he said.
Nolan also served as the president of the convention and visitors bureaus in Milwaukee, and Cleveland, he said.
“I think that it’s a vibrant industry; it’s a fun industry,” Nolan said.
He has high hopes for Toledo.
I think that Toledo has the opportunity and it can be and will be a preferred destination and I think it has the ingredients for success,” he said.
For more information, visit the Web site www.dotoledo.org.