Experiencing Columbus For The First Time Part 1 – What’s Columbus All About

Like a good number of people throughout the powersports industry, when I heard that the 2017 American International Motorcycle Expo presented by Nationwide (AIMExpo) would be making the move north to Columbus, Ohio, my initial reaction was that I was going to remain neutral until I made my first visit to the area.

Leading up to my first visit, the rest of the team that had already been to Columbus painted a city that is quite vibrant and assured me that if I looked into the city of Columbus a little deeper, I would find it’s an ideal setting for the fifth annual event.

A quick Google search and my opinion quickly shifted, getting pretty intrigued about all of the fun and unique activities and attractions Columbus offered up. Not to mention a handful of rather interesting facts that I wasn’t aware of.

Here are just some of the eye-opening things I learned about Ohio’s state capital:

  1. It is the 15th largest city in the nation with 850,000+ residents calling it home
  2. 41% of powersports dealers reside within a 500-mile radius, which is less than a full day’s drive, or can easily be covered in a short flight
  3. 50% of the US population is within that same 500-mile radius
  4. Hotels were plentiful and hundreds of bars and restaurants are within a short walk of the Convention Center
  5. September in Columbus is perfect late-summer weather, with warm days, and one the lowest month’s in terms of average rate of precipitation all year = great riding weather!

Now, if I’m a business owner or brand manager working in the powersports industry those stats are all things that catch my eye and are worth taking note of. The long and short of it being that Columbus is much larger, more connected, and easily accessible than most people realize, including myself, thus setting the stage for increased attendance at AIMExpo presented by Nationwide for attendees across the board. None more so than dealers.  

As we began gearing up for the fifth annual event (September 21-24, 2017) it was important that I take a visit to Columbus to meet with some key players in the region and to take a tour of the 1.7 million square foot Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC).

GCCC Rendering

The GCCC was going through some significant renovations and expansion during the visit but construction was coming along nicely, ahead of schedule for its July completion. Come September, with the appearance and functionality of a brand new facility, AIMExpo presented by Nationwide will take over the entire convention center, effectively turning Columbus into Powersports USA!

GCCC Expansion Rendering

The trip was only three days so it was going to be important to cram in as many visits, tours, meetings, dinners, and drinks as possible to try and get the full Columbus experience in just 72 hours. This was especially important for me since this would be my first trip to “CBUS”, while the team members I was meeting there – Mike Webster, Larry Little and Cinnamon Kernes – all had experienced the city during prior visits.

AIMExpo Team at John Glenn International Airport

The AIMExpo team arrives in CBUS! (L to R) Larry Little, Cinnamon Kernes & Mike Webster

The first step in the process was booking travel and accommodations. Finding flights was surprisingly simple since I was flying out of Los Angeles, and I was able to get a direct flight for a reasonable price. Once on the ground in Columbus, it was a short 10-15 minute Uber/cab ride – public buses/shuttles are also available for only a few bucks – to the downtown area and our hotel. Navigating through John Glenn International Airport was a breeze – large concourses, info and helpful staff easily accessible, clear labels/directions – removing one of the major hurdles and concerns associated with in airline travel.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, one of the number of hotels directly connected to the GCCC, which serves as just one of many options for the more than 4,000 hotel rooms available in the downtown area alone. I really enjoyed staying at this property and the quick walk to the convention center made it about as convenient as possible.

Overall the trip was a bit of a whirlwind with all of the activities, visits, and meetings planned. I had an opportunity to venture out on my own the first night before the others arrived, taking in a few of the spots in the Short North, which is the centerpiece of downtown Columbus’ shopping, dining, and entertainment options. In my next segment, I’ll go into more detail about my experience with the eating, drinking and exploring, and I encountered a good amount in my short trip to Columbus. This is probably people’s biggest worry when going to a new town, but I assure you, the pickings are a plenty in Columbus. Stay tuned!

Experience CBUS

About the author
Scott Roegner is a part of AIMExpo’s agency of record Next Level Sports Management and has attended AIMExpo since 2014. Roegner is a resident of Los Angeles and was able to provide great insight as a lover of exploring cities, including his current hometown.