Gordon Taylor III on Why Cleveland Rocks

Gordon Taylor III uses his expertise working at hotels to lead Destination Cleveland into the future. 

Gordon Taylor III on Why Cleveland Rocks

Gordon Taylor III was named vice president of convention sales and service for Destination Cleveland in July 2019. Taylor, a longtime hotel executive, previously served as the complex director of sales and marketing at Waldorf Astoria Chicago and Conrad Chicago, where he oversaw the teams responsible for selling and marketing a portfolio of two luxury hotels and four restaurants within those hotels. 

At Destination Cleveland, Taylor leads the team responsible for selling Cleveland as a meetings, conventions and events host city and then providing meeting planners and attendees a first-class experience before and while they are in Cleveland. As a member of the organization’s leadership team, he is focusing on citywide group business optimization and long-range sales of the area’s major convention facilities. He is also working in tandem with area hotel community leadership to effectively respond to and proactively solicit new business and ensure customer satisfaction.

What excites you most about this role?

I have found that people from the Cleveland area are real people who passionately care about their city and they want people to come see why it's a remarkable place to host a convention or a meeting. I'm excited to work with one of the premier sales and services teams in the business and partner with them to continue Cleveland's climb to the elite of convention destinations.

What are your top three challenges/goals moving into the job?

Bringing conventions and meetings to Cleveland that have never hosted in our city previously; Earning the reputation of having one of the most creative sales teams in the country; and promoting a culture that revolves around helping others win. That means each other, our hotels, our convention center and venues and the people of Cleveland.  

How has your longtime hotel experience prepared you for the role? What’s different about working for a destination as opposed to a hotel? 

My experience with larger hotel chains has taught me the need for a highly strategic approach to bring in business. It has taught me to be nimble and shift quickly when needed to fill gaps. I have learned to run directly at problems and not run away from them. It is easy for me to empathize with the hotels we will be working closely with, and I know precisely the pressure they are under and what their owners and brands expect them to deliver. There will definitely be some differences not working for a hotel. It is what I have been doing since 1997, walking into a hotel for work will certainly be a change, including not having an ownership meeting each month. Regardless of the differences, there are still going to be the pressures every sales and service team faces, and we welcome the pressure and the expectations head-on. Nothing worthwhile is easy. We can't be afraid to takes risks and take the first step.   

Why is Cleveland a special destination for meeting planners/attendees?

Cleveland is a special destination for meeting planners because attendees can quickly get a sense of the city and explore its unique attractions. Downtown is easy to navigate, and popular attractions like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the three major sports venues are a short walk from most hotels. Visitors can also experience world-class cultural institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra. Plus, Clevelanders are very welcoming and passionate about their city and visitors feel this genuine hospitality. Combine all of that with a state-of-the-art convention center and new and renovated hotel properties, and you see why Cleveland is a great all-around convention city.

What are some of the trends you are seeing in meetings and how do you plan to work those into your initiatives?

Meetings and conventions continue to evolve, and you now see less cookie-cutter meetings and setups. Although I would not say it is necessarily a trend, I do feel that people want a memorable and personable experience from their convention’s host city. People want to feel the energy of the host city, have a strong sense of place and see what our city can do better than anyone else. Before planners visit, you need to paint a clear picture of what it looks like to meet in Cleveland and give people the precise reasons to consider the city.