Much like the RNC, impact of American Bus Assn Convention in Cleveland will be felt down the road

Posted at 9:27 PM, Jan 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-16 21:27:38-05

Cleveland in winter can admittedly be a difficult sell, the lakefront that is so picturesque in June can at times be downright painful in January but those visiting the city this week for American Bus Association's annual convention see the potential not the pain and the city is happy to have them.

"In some ways, it's as important as what the RNC did to us," said Mike Burns, Senior V.P. of Convention Sales for Destination Cleveland.

That's because much like the impact of the Republican National Convention this gathering of around 3,500 people from around the country is about so much more than the economic impact on this one week. The ABA represents two-thirds of the motorcoach operators in the U.S. and Canada. Businesses that book more than 600 million passenger trips a year.

While other cities staff booths here at the convention to tout the attributes of their locale as a destination, Cleveland can show them first hand.

"So just to have these folks discover what's going on in Cleveland, to bring more business in is a very very positive thing for us and we expect that this will be something that for the next five years we'll see an increase of 15 to 25 percent in group tour business into our market," Burns said.

As a result, they've planned excursions of all kinds for the tour operators to show them not just the Rock Hall and Science Center but other spots.

"One group went to all the downtown arenas and saw what they could do around those facilities for groups coming in," Burns said. "Another group went out to the food scene and uniquely Cleveland things like the Christmas Story House, West Side Market, so they're out learning what they can turn and go back and sell."

Consider Rachel Quintero and Luana Pereira of San Antonio as two of those sales people. They operate a tour company in Texas. Rachel fell in love with Cleveland over a decade of visits here, Luana just last November when she traveled here to see the Dallas Cowboys take on the Cleveland Browns.

"At the end of that weekend we knew this was the place," Pereira said.

Quintero said their first Cleveland tours are booked for this summer.  

"A lot of [our customers] are saying 'I'd really like to see more of America, I've done the international thing' and so Cleveland can be one of those cities," she said.

Destination Cleveland's Mike Burns is hoping others here for ABA will feel the same after their visits.

"If they've enjoyed Cleveland in January they're all thinking already about wow how awesome would it be here in April, May, June, July and August."