The Greater Akron Lodging Council,
dissatisfaction with operations at Ohio’s Akron/Summit Convention
and Visitors Bureau, intends to boycott all group business referred
from the bureau beginning Sept. 1.
The boycott comes after area hotels witnessed a 31
percent decline in convention business from 2000 to 2003.
“We’ve heard comments that the hotel community is biting its
nose to spite its face. But this notion of a boycott was raised
after two years of attempts to get change at the bureau,” said
Barton Hacker (above, right), staff director of the GALC. “We told
them there was a lack of performance measures, accountability and
Bureau leaders see the issue in a different light. “I think the
boycott is in complete disrespect of our clients,” said Gregory R.
Bean, chairman of the ASCVB board of trustees. “The whole thing is
ridiculous and without merit. And it smears the reputation of the
hospitality industry in Summit County a reputation that has been
greatly enhanced by the efforts of this bureau.”
Susan Hamo (above, left), president of the Akron/Summit CVB
since 1993, likewise rejects Hacker’s claims. “We always listen to
the concerns and comments brought to us by our hospitality
partners,” Hamo said. “We have continued to encourage open dialogue
through committee meetings and face-to-face meetings with hoteliers
and hospitality partners. We would have been in a better position
to head off the potential boycott if we had known about it prior to
it being announced in the local newspaper.”
Members of the lodging group want the ASCVB to adhere strictly
to the performance measurements of the International Association of
Convention and Visitor Bureaus. Additionally, the hotel group
demands the ouster of Hamo and Bean.
“Things just haven’t happened the way the hotels felt they
should go,” said GALC supporter Tom Finley, general manger of the
Radisson City Centre in downtown Akron. “And the bureau’s responses
to hotels’ good questions have been vague or nonexistent.”
The boycott, which the council says will focus on the RFP
process, might entangle meeting planners in a local tug-of-war.
“When the bureau asks hotels for room blocks for groups they’re
trying to book, we’re going to tell them, ‘We don’t have anything
for you,’” said Hacker. “We want groups to deal directly with the
In late August, M&C
learned the bureau planned to
reject a last-minute, conditional mediation offer from GALC an
offer deemed “totally unreasonable” by one ASCVB board member.
Furthermore, the bureau asserts it will not be hampered by the
boycott. “Many local hotels have assured us that they will not be
honoring any boycott,” said Hamo. “We are business-as-usual in the
Akron and Summit County area.”