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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Unexpected Columbia

Columbia, Missouri’s tagline, “What You Unexpect,” says a lot about this college town that has the amenities of a larger city. Located about halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis, Columbia is home to vibrant business and education communities that support the arts, sports, trails and scenic green spaces.

Columbia, the fourth-largest city in Missouri, has three large colleges campuses: the University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College. The town has five hospitals, giving the media and insurance industries a large presence in Columbia as well.

“We have a lot of educated professionals who live in our city year-around,” said Beth Mead, convention and sales manager for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They do support the arts and our park system, which makes it a very nice place to live and visit.”

Those industries have also made Columbia a premier small meeting destination. The CVB alone handles more than 200 meetings per year. “Those are just the ones we handle; there are many others,” said Mead. All of the CVB employees are certified tourism ambassadors, and Columbia is only one of two Certified Tourism Ambassador cities in Missouri. The CVB offers a wide variety of services, and staff there is eager to help plan your meeting.

Some 113,000 people live in Columbia during the academic year, but that number plummets to just 40,000 during the summer. “We’re a completely different town during the summer months,” said Mead. However, that doesn’t mean the city shuts down. The charming historic downtown district, which is bordered on three sides by the college campuses, has 80 restaurants, coffee shops, galleries, music venues and stores.

Columbia has a total of 3,700 hotels rooms throughout the city, and several of its hotels have significant convention and meeting space. Stephens College and the University of Missouri also offer meeting and conference space, as well as sports venues, depending on the time of the year.


A True Holiday

The Holiday Inn Executive Center and the attached Columbia Expo Center boast a combined 36,000 square foot of meeting and convention space. The Holiday Inn has 310 recently renovated rooms and suites. The hotel also has three restaurants/bars, two swimming pools and a fitness center where attendees can relax and unwind. The Holiday Inn Executive Center’s business center stays open 24 hours per day and an on-site audiovisual manager can assist with a wide variety of presentation needs. The hotel is conveniently located just off of I-70 exit 124, across from the Columbia Mall.