Our History

Don PattersonEstablished in 1973 to promote Akron/Summit County as an ideal destination for business and leisure travel, the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau is the clearinghouse for area travel and tourism information. Donald L. Patterson served as the Bureau first President & CEO upon its creation in 1973, until his death in 1993. A respected leader within the hospitality industry, Don was an outspoken advocate and champion for Greater Akron’s hotels, attractions and tourism-friendly businesses. His service and dedication to the industry also reached beyond Akron, as he lent his passion and expertise to the Ohio Travel Association and the Ohio Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus. In his honor, the annual Hospitality Scholarship Golf Tournament is held to fund the Donald L. Patterson Hospitality Scholarship for deserving students in The University of Akron’s Summit College Hospitality Management Program.

Susan HamoIn 1993, Susan L. Hamo became the second president of the Bureau, being promoted from Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Susan began her career with the Bureau in 1984, when she was hired as a Sales Manager – calling on trade associations and corporate meeting planners to encourage them to bring their conventions to Greater Akron. Throughout her tenure, Susan was an innovative and trusted leader – transforming the way in which the local community, industry colleagues and stakeholders – ensuring everyone understood the importance and power of tourism and the resulting visitor economy. In 1995, the Bureau was chosen to manage and market the John S. Knight Center by the City of Akron. Susan served in leadership positions, including: Ohio Travel Association, Ohio Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and Akron Civic Theatre. She was an appointed delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Travel & Tourism and was appointed to the 1997 Governor of Ohio’s Travel Industry Advisory Council. Susan passed away unexpectedly in February of 2012. In her honor, the annual Zenith Award for Hospitality Person of the Year has been re-named the Susan L. Hamo Hospitality Person of the Year Award; it is presented to a member of the Summit County hospitality industry during the Bureau’s celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week each May. Additionally, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to honor Susan's commitment to the community by naming the open public area at the front of the John S. Knight Center, the Susan L. Hamo Plaza. An engraved plaque bearing Susan's photo marks the space and includes one of her favorite quotes - "May All Who Enter As Guests, Leave As Friends."

Gregg MervisSelected as Susan’s successor, the Bureau and Center are now being led by long-time employee, Gregg M. Mervis. Gregg began his career with the Bureau and Center when he was appointed Director of Sales, coinciding with the Bureau’s takeover of the John S. Knight Center in 1995. One year later, he was promoted to Vice President and in 2008 became Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In the summer of 2012, Gregg was named President and Chief Executive Officer – becoming the organization’s third top executive.  As a hospitality industry senior executive, Gregg is a member of various national industry organizations, including: Destination lnternational, International Association of Assembly Managers and National Association of Consumer Shows.

His involvement to foster the visitor economy at the State level includes: Ohio Travel Association, Ohio Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association. He currently serves on the boards of Downtown Akron Partnership and the Ohio Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus.