Indianapolis Zooms Along
A third Midwest city showing no signs of slowing during winter is Indianapolis. Daren Kingi, senior vice president of sales for Visit Indy, says their most famous race—the Indianapolis 500, held each May—attracts people globally year-round. Yet the leisure market here plays second fiddle to meetings.
“Indy is the No. 1 most group-dependent city in America,” says Kingi.
The CVB embarked on this strategy 30 years ago, going after sporting groups and luring the NFL’s Colts from Baltimore.
The massive expansion to Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in 2011 has been a tremendous asset to growing group business, too. Association, trade show and sports make up the largest piece of the meetings pie, yet Kingi says they’re seeing a shift to more professional associations, like doctors and surgeons groups, as well as an increase in corporate leads.
Business in the first and second quarter remains strong, says Kingi, and March Madness continues to be a focal point for the city. He’s already looking ahead to 2021, when Indianapolis will host the NCAA’s Men’s Final Four.
As far as Kingi is concerned, the seasons don’t matter much to Indy’s meeting business; in recent years, Q1 has finished with an occupancy of 77 percent, which “just doesn’t happen in a city with a traditional winter,” he says.
Having lived all around the country, from New Jersey to Los Angeles, he’s pleased when a 50-degree winter day happens in Indy, as it did in 2012 for Super Bowl XLVI there. “The moderate weather completely, pleasantly surprises me,” he says. “I don’t have to clear the driveways as much.”