Meet Barry Hoehn. Barry is a 45 year veteran in the hospitality industry and has been the Director of Convention Sales & Marketing with the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau for over 12 years. Barry’s long career got its start in Los Angeles as a pot washer and then while in hospitality school at UNLV as a pit auditor at a Las Vegas casino. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Recently, he sat down with Suzzanne Ravitz of Destination Marketing Association International to share how Birmingham strives to be a true partner with meeting planners to bring an authentic southern meeting experience to attendees.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?
Not every Saturday is the same for me. There are just so many wonderful things to do here in Birmingham. Typically, you’ll find me playing golf, fishing, or enjoying a great meal at one of Birmingham’s up and coming restaurants. One of my favorite places to golf is at Ross Bridge. This is a must for golfers. It is one of the longest courses in the world and meanders through indigenous landscape, offering breathtaking views.
I believe we are known for being one of the friendliest destinations and one of the most affordable cities in the South. In fact, Birmingham has over 220,000 square feet of exhibit space and over 14,000 rooms, with accommodations and attractions for meetings of all sizes.
Additionally, Birmingham is really going through a renaissance of sorts. Our dining and live music are widely considered Birmingham’s signature entertainment. In fact, Zagat recently named Birmingham as “America’s Next Hot Food City.” They wrote that Birmingham, previously overshadowed by its larger neighbors, is really coming into its own as a premier culinary destination.
Not to be out done is our thriving live music scene. In fact, our Sloss Fest was recently named number one by Southern Living magazine as “The South’s Most Iconic Music Venues and Festivals.” The Sloss Fest music and arts festival attracted over 25,000 in just its first year. It’s definitely a great festival to attend when in Birmingham.
Something is always happening in our destination! Recently, we celebrated the reopening of the Lyric Theatre. The Lyric reopened in January 2016 following an $11 million restoration and now hosts a regular schedule of events by regional and nationally known performers of all varieties. Additionally, the 750-seat theater was recently recognized by Southern Living magazine as one of the “50 Best Places in the South Now.”
The Redmont Hotel reopened following an extensive $20 million renovation. The 120-room hotel is a gem of a place and is Alabama’s oldest operating hotel. It originally opened in 1925 with a private bath for every room, along with chilled water and ceiling fans, unusual luxuries for the time. Today, the 14-story boutique hotel includes 12 suites, along with two ballrooms and two board rooms totaling 3,600 square feet of meeting space. The Redmont is a member of Curio Collection by Hilton and includes a fine dining restaurant with an Italian flair and a café serving breakfast and lunch.
For attendees and planners that like to get outside, the Rotary Trail has become a reality. The four-block stretch of rail bed downtown is now a communal path that parts ways with the Railroad Park to become its own linear trail. It includes attractive landscaping, a small amphitheater and charging stations for laptops and phones. It’s a great place to enjoy for those who have meetings downtown.