How can you tell if a city has what it takes to host large conventions? According to a recent article in Successful Meetings, managing editor Alex Palmer says, “Ask yourself whether the city has hosted a major sporting event.” Wichita couldn’t agree more and, just last month, the city hosted the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship 1st/2nd Rounds. Success was noted by locals, visitors and participants.
Steve Lavin, the former UCLA coach who is now a sports broadcaster stated, "It was not only a large crowd but the energy was palpable." The energic and welcoming environment Lavin and others experienced was completely a part of the plan. Visit Wichita collaborated with Downtown Wichita on everything from electricity to bringing popular food trucks to an amazingly popular city-wide event. The Services Team coordinated with Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport to provide electronic welcome messages throughout the terminal.
Visit Wichita worked with area businesses, restaurants and shops to provide posters and other collateral that welcomed guests. Months of meetings and communication with hotels meant hotel staff went above and beyond to welcome guests with everything from information tables at each host hotel manned by the bureau’s hospitality team to balloons in team colors and staff wearing clothing that supported the colleges. Visit Wichita team members held signs outside of the arena offering to answer any questions that visitors had about Wichita, where to find things and how to make the most of their trip.
“It’s a very recognizable event, so when you say that you’re hosting the NCAA basketball tournament, it puts you on another level of competition,” said Moji Rosson, vice president of sales for Visit Wichita. “But we didn’t just want to host, we wanted to demonstrate that Wichita absolutely has what it takes to hold large-scale events and make them a tremendous success.”
Wichita doesn’t have to wait long for the NCAA to return; the city has already been awarded the first and second round games in 2021. Between now and then, though, many sporting events and meetings of all sizes will take place in Wichita. In 2018 alone, the city is hosting four significant sporting events: the U.S. Figure Skating Midwestern and Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships and NCAA tournament were already successful, while the USA Waterski and the American Water Ski Association National Championships and the United States Bowling Congress’ U.S. Open are upcoming.
“Having the opportunity to host multiple major sporting events in Wichita in one year only solidifies that we are a tremendous sports city capable of hosting sporting events of all varieties and magnitudes,” Rosson said.
Want to learn more on hosting your event in Wichita? Click here.
Visit Wichita recently hired two new sales managers ready to assist meeting planners with all aspects of planning a meeting or event in our city. Josh Howell brings more than 10 years of experience in sports sales and marketing and eight years working in college athletics to his role of attracting sporting events and sports conventions. Howell received his Master of Education in sport management from Wichita State University. Lindsay Gulley is a lifelong Wichitan who will focus on attracting events in the hobby/avocational, religious, fraternal and military reunion group markets. She received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from WSU. She joined Visit Wichita from the March of Dimes Foundation, where she was the executive director of market development.
At the end of 2017, Wichita got its first retro arcade. The 3,750-square-foot fun center is in the heart of Wichita’s Old Town District, a lively and walkable historic area that serves as a hub for restaurants, nightlife, shops and diverse entertainment options.No need to bring your quarters to this arcade. Guests pay $8/hour or $10/day to enter, then have unlimited play on any of the 70 game cabinets. Most are from the 1980s and the 1990s and include popular games like Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Asteroids, Mortal Kombat, Tron and many more.The Arcade also serves snacks and soft drinks. Visitors are giving it high reviews for allowing them to play blasts from the past or introduce younger generations to old school gaming.
As the largest city in Kansas, Wichita is known for having the top-rated hotels in the state and an array of brands and amenities that appeal to meeting planners. For the fourth consecutive year, Wichita’s Ambassador Hotel Autograph Collection earned AAA’s four-diamond status, making it the highest rated hotel in the state. Another award-winner is the Wichita Marriott, which ended 2017 being the No. 1 Marriott in the region and No. 6 nationwide for overall event planning experience based on responsiveness, knowledge, ease of planning and creativity. Let our hotel professionals help make your event a success!
The Visit Wichita sales team will be at numerous industry tradeshows in the coming months. We’d love to meet you in person at any of the following events: