Kent State Stark to host Tourism Expo 2007

Abby Laner

Kent State Stark campus is scheduled to host its first Tourism Expo.

Tourism Expo 2007 will kick off at 9 a.m. today in the Kent State Professional Education and Conference Center and last until about 4:30 p.m. The event will feature a keynote speaker, trade show and educational classes throughout the day. It will also showcase many area vendors and business organizations from the following counties: Carroll, Coshocton, Holmes, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne.

“This event is designed to help businesses deliver tourism better and market their services more efficiently,” said Don Schneck, director of the Kent State Stark Small Business Development Center.

The day will begin at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast and a keynote speaker. Russ Vernon, second-generation owner of West Point Market in Akron, will discuss current business and marketing strategies with participants.

After the speaker, guests are invited to view trade show booths and attend educational courses. The trade show will feature wholesalers such as food providers, beverage suppliers, travel resources and local convention and visitors bureaus.

John Kiste, executive director of the Stark County Convention & Visitors Bureau said his office will have a booth at the show to display various tourism resources.

“I will be at the booth for most of the day, but many of my colleagues are attending classes throughout the day as well,” Kiste said.

Kiste also said the Stark County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau did a lot of preparation for the expo.

“We sent out somewhere around 650 save-a-date fliers to business leaders in the county, so we are really hoping for a good turnout,” Kiste said.

At this time, about 19 different organizations have signed up to have a booth at the trade show, and 70 people are enrolled for the educational programs. Participants can choose from a variety of courses, including Internet marketing, know your customer, cooperative marketing, know your competition and customer service.

“The expo seems like a great way to get area leaders to collectively promote their services,” said Richard Kolbe, associate marketing professor and department chair at Kent State.

Kolbe also said Internet marketing is a valuable asset for business leaders to comprehend.

“If you think about it, people go to the Internet for everything, so it is very important to know how to market in this environment,” Kolbe said.

In the afternoon, participants will be treated to a gourmet lunch and then split into groups based on particular industries such as hotel, food services and retail.

“These groups will give people the chance to have open discussions, apply what they have learned and discuss the best practices for the particular industry,” Schneck said.

Tickets for the event can be purchased for $75 in advance by going to or calling (330) 244-3290. Tickets will also be sold at the door for $100.

Contact Regional Campus reporter Abby Laner at [email protected].