ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) —The reaction is positive — so far — from convention planners inspecting St. Louis this week to determine whether they might want to book millions of dollars in future conventions here.
“I’ve been impressed with how friendly everybody is in this city,” said Dean Wilkerson, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Association Executives. “From the airport, to the cab drivers, to the airports and restaurants. It’s just been great. We’ve really felt welcomed here.”
Impressing the group of some 5,000 convention planners could ring cash registers here for years to come, according to the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission’s Chief Marketing Officer, Brian Hall.
“Los Angeles held this convention and their convention business jumped $60 million,” Hall said. The CVC estimates the long range bookings could result in $187 million in new revenue pouring into St. Louis.
To dazzle the delegates, the CVC was planning to spend up to $2 million on the convention, including a concert and fireworks under the arch and tours of the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
By midday on Monday, several delegates told KMOX they liked what they had seen so far.
Bob Johnston with the Realtors Association says he found St. Louis to have no negatives, “except for the heat.” Johnston had seen Forest Park and Laclede’s Landing and said he would recommend St. Louis as a destination for his group.
Jeannie Labella with the American Public Power Association out of Washington, D.C. says she has been impressed with the technology upgrades at the America’s Center and felt safe walking around Laclede’s Landing.
“I didn’t have any sense that I was unsafe,” Labella said, “I had the concierge at my hotel, The Four Seasons, recommend that I not walk too far afield, but I haven’t felt unsafe at all.”
Several other delegates also told KMOX they felt safe downtown and had walked several blocks without any problem.
That may be no accident. Brian Hall with the CVC says extra planning went in to beefing up the police presence downtown. “They stepped up bike patrols and all kind of activities around the downtown area, including the hotels where people are staying,” Hall said, “So, the perception of safety is very much there.”
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