Recent Cleveland Discoveries
Geauga Duo Takes on NE Ohio
For 10 years Lynda Nemeth was the Executive Director of Destination Geauga (formerly Geauga County Tourism,) for five of those years at her side was Office Manager Pegi Dickson. During that time the office rebranded and saw considerable growth in membership and services. Dickson left the office in December of 2016, and Nemeth's contract was not renewed in May of 2017 due to budget cuts. But as the saying goes, when one door closes...
In the meantime, Discover My Cleveland’s owner and founder Lynde Vespoli knew that this was not coincidence, but ‘destiny!’ She had started her company in 2013 and had grown it each year, but in December her husband had been transferred out of state, and she had been looking for a new owner for her destination marketing company.
Having served together on the regional tourism Board for Adventures in NE Ohio, and having worked together on tours in the past Vespoli contacted Nemeth with the opportunity. “My only hesitation was the vastness of the Greater Cleveland area. I jokingly told her if the company was called Discover My Geauga, I would be all in.” Nemeth said, but the more they spoke, however, the more Nemeth realized the untapped potential of the company and what she could do there. “Knowing that this was going to be somewhat of a learning curve, I decided with the right partner, things could move along quicker and with more potential to expand,” Nemeth said. “It didn’t take me long to think of who the right help would be. Since Pegi left the office in December, we have talked often and realized that not only did we miss working together, but we’re both ‘people people’ and missed the daily interaction. “It’s not often that you find someone whose capabilities perfectly compliment your own, so when I asked Pegi if she was interested in partnering with me in this endeavor, she was very excited about the new opportunity as well.”
Discover my Cleveland is the perfect progression for the pair. While they had been ingrained in Geauga County, they were still involved regionally with groups like Adventures in Northeast Ohio, and working with Destination Cleveland and the TravelBackers program in Cleveland. Even partnering with Discover My Cleveland when the small ships were in Cleveland a couple years ago combining a ‘City to Country tour’ to include Geauga County.
“The beauty of Discover MY Cleveland is that it will be just that,” said Nemeth, “we will focus not only on Cleveland but the Greater Cleveland area as a whole, and growing it to service not only groups from out of the area but learning how we can work with local businesses as well. Our services range from everything from setting up itineraries and providing step on guides to Motorcoach groups to meeting/event planning for groups.”
For local companies Discover My Cleveland is also an asset in planning everything from offsite meetings, airport pickups (from mini buses to limos) for visiting guests, to special company outings anywhere in the greater Cleveland area. “With all the new energy downtown we have found even businesses in surrounding counties would like to take their employees downtown, but don’t know where to start,” said Nemeth. “Maybe they would like a nice meeting room in one of the new hotels and a catered lunch, and then treat everyone to a cruise at the end of the day. We can take care of all of that.” From concept to completion, your one call does it all. This duo is excited to be back together and excited about their new opportunities to showcase the diversity of NE Ohio! Find more information at www.DiscoverMyCleveland or 216.369.9399
Dazzle the District
As part of its dramatic neighborhood transformation, in early May Cleveland’s Playhouse Square (home to the second largest performing arts district in the country) dazzled the city with an extravagant street party that culminated in the lighting of a 20’-high outdoor chandelier. Gracing the intersection of E. 14th Street and Euclid Avenue, in the center of the theatre district, its 4,200 crystals and 44-foot high steel structure have made it The Guinness Book of World Record’s official largest outdoor chandelier.
Three days before it was illuminated, our Tour Director was leading the Road Scholars (formerly Elder Hostel) on a group tour of Cleveland. Included was a backstage tour of Playhouse Square, complete with a stop on the stage of the Ohio Theatre. While there, the group was joined by camera men from WEWS, channel 5, and local television personality Leon Bibb, who was preparing a story for the chandelier-lighting party. It was the first time one of our Cleveland group tours was filmed as part of a story for the evening news
Convention Shuttle Service Extraordinaire
Working in the Destination Management business, there are many challenging days. When the unexpected happens, you have to think on your feet. Take this past June. I was contracted by the Cleveland Clinic to shuttle 400 conference attendees from the conference venue to an evening reception five miles east. A simple request. Except, it was the last day of Marine Week. The center of town, Public Square, had turned into a Marine encampment with streets closed to traffic. And due to the congestion, the buses were not allowed to “stack” in front of the hotel lobby doors as usual. They were told to wait five blocks away. No problem. My staff knew they would have to call the buses up one by one to the hotel in order to load the passengers. A bit of logistics, but not difficult. Except, it started to rain. No, pour. No, really pour. And to top it off, the end of Marine Week was due to be celebrated any minute by a helicopter arriving in Public Square, so everything would be blocked. Time to call the police. Yes, a friendly Cleveland Police Department Sergeant, who was directing traffic through the mess. After hearing our plight, he called for a police escort for the buses through the roadblocks to the hotel and out to the reception. Saving all 400 conference-goers from having to walk around a helicopter through the rain just to catch a bus. Instead, they arrived safe and dry for their evening festivities. That’s why I love this job. I can’t always guarantee a police escort, but I can promise to make your event happen without hitting a roadblock.
This is a story of perspective
A few months ago I was the tour director for a group of dairy farmers and their wives from Melbourne, Australia. We toured the city of Cleveland, drove through the fall foliage in northeast Ohio, went up to the mighty Niagara Falls, and on to Boston and Washington, DC. They liked the countryside. The monuments and buildings were all fine. But what really caught their attention — what they were fascinated with at every stop — were the squirrels. You see, Australia has no squirrels. Now, it took me a minute to adjust. I am used to customizing tours for groups. Taking them through the best of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Traversing lighthouses, touring the Amish country and wineries. I know those subjects by heart. But this was on the fly and the subject was a ground rodent. So, I told them everything I knew about the furry beasts, all the while thinking, “What’s the big deal about squirrels, anyway?” Then it hit me. If I were traveling in their country? If I were touring Australia? The buildings and the Opera House might be nice and all. But, I sure wouldn’t want to miss the kangaroos.