April 17, 2024

Excited About Our Convention Future

I’m Ken Paul. I’m executive director of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (FCCFA). I started this role in January of 2024, which marks my 25th anniversary of living and working in central Ohio. For the better part of the last two decades, I’ve worked in public service, most recently in the office of the mayor, serving as the mayor’s chief of staff, leading our city through the pandemic and the recovery, and positioning ourselves for the future. During that period, I had the good fortune of spending a lot of time learning about the convention, travel and tourism industry. I have served on the Experience Columbus board for nearly 15 years now and really developed a passion for this work.

How have things been going during your first few months on the job?

We’re off to a great start. I’m enthusiastic about the future. I’m fortunate. We’ve got a great team at the FCCFA with a lot of institutional knowledge and people who are just committed to the mission and the purpose. We have great partners at the Hilton, ASM Global and Levy, who are leaders in the industry; I couldn’t ask for better partners.

I’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know our vast facilities. We own the Convention Center, but we also own six parking garages, the Hilton and Nationwide Arena. Many people don’t realize that we’re entrusted with these public assets. I spend a lot of time walking the grounds and facilities, getting to know the frontline staff and understanding their work. I listen to the staff and look for ways to offer a fresh perspective and really give permission to the team to think creatively, be collaborative and look toward the future.

What has you excited about what’s on the horizon?

I have to acknowledge that the pandemic hit the convention travel and tourism business very hard. However, I am very proud of the FCCFA and all the work to support the industry, our workers and their families — in order to get to the other side, keep the lights on and keep moving forward. The good news is we have gained a lot of ground, and are almost back to pre-pandemic levels. Yet the reality is we still have some catching up to do and ground to make up. And we have to build on the momentum of several large conferences we have brought into our community. These are big wins for Columbus, and we’ll be ready to deliver. We also have to be prepared to look toward the future and figure out where we need to make investments.

The Hilton is operating at full capacity for the first time this year. We are looking forward to a strong performance and leveraging that beautiful property. It’s the largest hotel in Ohio, and it will help us capitalize on convention travel and tourism. While the Hilton is shiny and new and a great asset, we also need to look at the Convention Center, Nationwide Arena and our other assets, and think about how we reinvest and how we ensure that when we welcome people into our city, they continue to have an incredible experience that makes them want to come back.

What makes Columbus a special place to live and to visit?

What sets Columbus apart from other destinations is our people. We have world-class facilities. We have a beautiful brand-new Hilton hotel, the largest hotel in our state. We have an excellent modern convention facility with all of the amenities a guest would want. But the difference is when you come to Columbus, you are not just a visitor — you are a guest. As a guest in our home, you are treated special. Your event matters. And frankly, as a community, we rally together very well and collaborate in ways that other communities do not. We deliver an experience that is second to none. And again, it all comes down to who we are as a people. That’s why I’m glad to be part of this team, and I’m excited for our future.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter
Plan your next event in Columbus

Shopping for an event site

If you’re considering Columbus as an event site and have questions about hotels, attractions, transportation, or how to submit a proposal for your event, contact Experience Columbus.

Answers about the Greater Columbus Convention Center

If you’ve scheduled an event for the Greater Columbus Convention Center and have questions about scheduling, facilities or services, you can find the answers here.

Help with your sporting event

If you’ve scheduled a sporting event in Columbus, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission can provide additional information about sports facilities, hotels, transportation and area attractions. It can also help you promote your event.