MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Around 1,400 meeting planners and destination representative are gathered in Milwaukee this week for Connect Marketplace, an education and networking conference.
"I'm only used to riding my Harley in Milwaukee," said Connect Marketplace speaker Michele Wierzgac. "To be here on business, in a totally different realm, for me, is wonderful. And Milwaukee is a great place to do business and to have meetings and events and conventions."
VISIT Milwaukee's President and CEO, Paul Upchurch, says the four-day conference gives the city a chance to show off in the hopes of meeting planners choosing to use Milwaukee as their destination more frequently.
"Many of them have never seen Milwaukee so we haven't been on their radar screen, and there's more than 200 convention centers in the country, and lots of people out there asking for this business. So if we can get them here and show them the great city that we have, the likelihood of booking that business improves dramatically," said Upchurch.
Collinson Media and Events has produced 15 similar events since 2007, but one as big as this.
"Visiting for the first time, getting to know this city -- it's really a hidden gem," said President Chris Collinson.
Collinson says his initial hesitation with Milwaukee hosting disappeared after his first visit and he's hoping more planners will feel the same way.
"They're going to be able to walk away with a great impression of Milwaukee and what Milwaukee really is and what it can offer to the average traveler," said Collinson.
The Connect Marketplace Conference holds millions of dollars in future potential buying power for Milwaukee.