For its milestone 35th World Conference and Exposition in 2007, RCMA will return to its roots.

Louisville, Ky., was the site of the first RCMA conference, held in 1973. That first RCMA was an experiment of sorts, a test to see if there was a need for and an interest in a gathering of meeting planners.

A group of twenty-three people showed up, but RCMA was on its way.

Accommodations

RCMA and Louisville look much different today. Greater Louisville offers nearly 17,000 hotel rooms ranging from elegant historic landmarks to contemporary, state-of-the-art accommodations.

Within a 15-minute drive of one another, Louisville has three separate hotel corridors. More than 3,000 hotel rooms are in downtown, most within walking distance of the Kentucky International Convention Center.

“The biggest surprise people have when coming to town is how convenient and close everything is for the convention delegates,” says James Wood, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The hotels are next to the convention center, the dining and entertainment district is next door, and the attractions are just a few blocks away. The second surprise is how nice everything looks, especially with all of the recent renovations that have taken place.”

The airport-area hotels are within minutes of Louisville's International Airport and the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. The East End connects to the rest of the city via Interstate 64 and is easily accessible to downtown and the airport.

Although the city features a large number of independent properties, there are familiar names including Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and Holiday Inn.

Transportation

Louisville is one of the most accessible cities in the country. Louisville International Airport provides nearly 100 flights daily, and downtown is seven minutes away. To check on flight schedules, visit www.louintlairport.com.

Louisville is a day's drive for much of the country's population. The Transit Authority of River City offers countywide bus service and operates downtown's historic Toonerville Trolley.

Big Spaces

With 300,000 square feet of space, Kentucky International Convention Center can accommodate a variety of sizes and types of events with ease. Of the 300,000 square feet, 200,000 square feet is prime exhibit space, including 145,000 square feet of contiguous, column-free areas.

Accompanying the exhibit halls is a 30,000-square-foot ballroom and 52 meeting rooms, all under one roof. The convention center's interior is complemented by a landscape of exposed brick, sawtooth skylights, and a striking terrazzo floor that winds through the lobbies illustrating many of Louisville's signature landmarks.

The Kentucky International Convention Center's sister facility, the Kentucky Exposition Center, features large facilities with diverse capabilities. The 400-acre property offers more than 1 million square feet of indoor space, including Freedom Hall, an indoor arena that seats more than 19,000 people. The expo center hosts a spectrum of events year-round and remains the permanent home of the Kentucky State Fair, the National Farm Machinery Show, and the North American International Livestock Exposition.

The Greater Louisville CVB can be a valuable asset for meeting planners. Its Services Department can:

  • Meet with your organization's Louisville colleagues to help them prepare for their role as hometown hosts.

  • Offer orientations on the Greater Louisville area to host committee members.

  • Suggest transportation choices, spouse activity ideas, dining options, and evening entertainment.

  • Provide promotional and AV materials, including videos, hi-resolution digital photos, tabletop displays, brochures, digital logos, media kits, and Powerpoint presentations.

  • Solicit bids from appropriate third-party service providers.

  • Provide on-site registration personnel for your convention.

Attractions

Few cities the size of Louisville can boast of their own ballet, orchestra, regional repertory theater, children's theater, opera, dinner theater, and Shakespeare festival.

Louisville is home to the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” the incomparable Kentucky Derby. In addition, Louisville Stoneware is made in the heart of the city and boasts some of the most beautiful pottery patterns anywhere. The Belle of Louisville, a National Landmark, is the oldest Mississippi-style sternwheeler in the country.

The list of attractions goes on. Louisville Zoo welcomed Western lowland gorillas with the opening of the Gorilla Forest in May 2002. For thrill seekers, there is Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, featuring Chang, the tallest, longest, fastest stand-up roller coaster in the world. For the less adventurous, there are historic homes such as Riverside: The Farnsley-Mormen Landing.

Restaurants, shopping and golf are also part of what makes Louisville a memorable place to visit.

History

Named for King Louis XVI of France in appreciation for his assistance during the Revolutionary War, Louisville was founded by George Rogers Clark in 1778. While the city's initial growth was slow, the advent of the steamboat in the early 1800s sparked booming industrial development, and by 1830 Louisville had secured its place as the largest city in Kentucky.

During the Civil War, Louisville was an important Union base of operations and a major military supply center.

In the post-war era, the city emerged even more prosperous than before, with merchant princes and manufacturers shaping the new economy. Owing to its strategic location at the Falls of the Ohio, Louisville was a major commercial center. River transportation was supplemented by the construction of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, which was chartered in 1850 and operated more than 1,800 miles of line in the state by 1920. Thanks to companies such as Dupont, the city became the world's largest producer of synthetic rubber during World War II.

Louisville also is a city of firsts. In the reform-minded progressive era of the 1880s, the city was the first in the nation to introduce the secret ballot, significantly reducing vote fraud. It was the first city in Kentucky to adopt zoning and planning measures to control and shape urban growth.

The city has been home to a number of men and women who changed the face of American history. President Zachary Taylor was reared in surrounding Jefferson County, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish justice, was from the city proper.

John James Audubon, noted naturalist was a local shopkeeper here in the early years of his career, drawing birds in his spare time.

Second Lt. F. Scott Fitzgerald, stationed at Camp Zachary Taylor during World War I, was a frequent presence in the famous Seelbach Hotel, immortalized in the novel The Great Gatsby.

Muhammad Ali, perhaps the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, was born in Louisville and won six Golden Glove tournaments in Kentucky. The Muhammad Ali Center is an international education and cultural center, inspired by Ali. The center, which opened in November 2005, features an immersive visitor experience.

Louisville Fast Facts

  • U.S. and International travelers directly spend nearly $1.2 billion in Jefferson County.

  • 26,000 jobs are directly generated by tourism in Jefferson County, jobs that encompass a broad spectrum of executive and managerial positions, as well as service-oriented occupations.

  • In 2000, travel and tourism generated $8.8 billion in the state of Kentucky.

  • Visitor spending supports 163,000 tourism-related jobs in Kentucky.

  • The travel and tourism industry is the third-largest service industry in Louisville and Jefferson County, the third-largest revenue-producing industry in the state, and the second-largest private employer.

  • In 2000-2001, Louisville hosted more than 880,000 delegates.

  • Louisville hosts four of the top 200 trade shows in the country, two of which are in the top 25.

  • Louisville is ranked seventh in the top 10 Trade Show 200 cities.

  • The Corporate Travel Index ranks Louisville 60th in per diem costs in 100 cities.

  • Louisville is located at the center of three major interstates, I-65, I-71 and I-64, within a day's drive of nearly half of the nation's population.