August 15, 2016
Mr. Dan O'Connell, President
Visit Fort Wayne
927 South Harrison Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
On behalf of the North American SCRABBLE Players Association, I am writing to thank you for helping us to make the 2016 North American SCRABBLE Championship an outstanding success. You have much to be proud of in your staff, your business partners, and your city.
As you know, we were initially solicited to bring the NASC to Fort Wayne by Josie O'Donnell from your office. We turned Josie down twice, and Fort Wayne was not even on our list of potential host cities for this event. Josie persisted, however, and was so adept at answering every objection we raised, that we decided to make a site visit. After experiencing the welcome that your staff and your business partners provided, seeing your impressive convention and hotel facilities and thriving downtown, and experiencing "Hoosier hospitality" first hand, we ultimately decided that Fort Wayne would be the location of the 2016 championship.
From the beginning, we were amazed with the unprecedented level of attention and customer service that you and your staff provided to us. Our members were pleasantly surprised when you, Megan Flohr, and Kelleen Larkey travelled to Reno, Nevada last year to meet our group and better understand our needs by experiencing our tournament in person. And we were thrilled with the many ideas, big and small, that you and your team implemented to make our community feel valued and special while visiting Fort Wayne.
When our group arrived in Fort Wayne, they were overwhelmed by the welcome. Posters welcoming our group were displayed throughout downtown, and our group members were engaged in conversation about our tournament and their participation in it when they visited local restaurants. The Grand Wayne Center, already an architectural marvel, was even more impressive with the many Scrabble decorations that were placed throughout the building by convention center staff. Even the restrooms featured Scrabble-themed decorations. As one longstanding member put it, “I have attended every Nationals tournament since 1988, and I have never seen such a welcome.”
The Visit Fort Wayne staff could not have been more gracious or accommodating. Kelleen Larkey did an amazing job with the welcome gift for our membership, Josie O’Donnell was a terrific ambassador for your city, and Megan Flohr was an ever-present help to us, from providing guidance and suggestions about what to see and do in Fort Wayne, to stepping in and single-handedly solving the one and only minor issue that our group encountered during our stay. We also appreciated the help we received from Jen Brown, Beth Monn, and others from your staff.
Fort Wayne was not a sought after destination for our group, and many were sceptical about holding our national tournament in your city. But the outstanding service you delivered, and the delightful city that hosted us, has made a lasting impression on our members. Here are some of the things our members have related to us as feedback about the event:
“Fort Wayne venue was great. The welcoming attitude from the whole town was amazing.”
“The location which I was originally sceptical about turned out to be awesome. This includes the size of the playing room, the host hotel, nearby food options and the nice personal touches to make scrabble players more welcome. Whoever scouted and recommended the location did an excellent job.”
“I thought Ft. Wayne exceeded expectations as a host city, and I appreciated the city's welcome to us.”
“I loved the venue and the willingness of Visit Fort Wayne to go above and beyond the usual call of what the NASC has usually provided. I loved seeing posters around town welcoming us and loved that there were extra ways in which businesses made us feel welcome.”
“The best thing about this tournament: Fort Wayne. Never before has a host city been so welcoming. I also attended Orlando, Vegas, Buffalo, and Reno. [Fort Wayne] was affordable and surprisingly fun.”
“Terrific venue with lots of enthusiasm from the hosts, and a walkable downtown with great places to eat.”
“The overall community reception was not what I was expecting. There wasn't a single business that I patronized that was unaware of the NASC. They all had heard about it, and were all very curious about how it was going and the like.”
“The 2 host hotels were very convenient / close to the convention center - more so than Buffalo or Reno - and offered reasonably priced and yummy food. There were many great restaurants in Fort Wayne - that was a pleasant surprise.”
“Downtown Fort Wayne was beautiful and the Visit Fort Wayne crew did an amazing job of welcoming the Scrabblers.”
“Golly, I don't know. It was all fabulous, from start to finish. Perhaps the way Fort Wayne officials noticeably bent over backwards to accommodate the players, including their onsite presence . . . . It was outstanding thru & thru.”
“Fort Wayne was an excellent choice. It was easily accessible for most players. The entire city was friendly and welcoming. There was a nice selection of restaurants with a variety of cuisines and prices.”
“Fort Wayne was a surprisingly good city to choose to host the NASC - the city is modern and clean, and has very solid restaurant options. I would support returning here the next time the NASC is held in that region of the U.S. You could tell that the city really appreciated having us there, and I think that alone has a lot of value.”
“I would return to Fort Wayne every year. It was an extremely hospitable and comfortable place to play, and the city was very walkable, interesting, lively and friendly.”
“LOVED Fort Wayne! Perfect size, great people, great amenities, just enough to do, great bang for the buck. Would definitely like to see nationals held there again.”
I could continue with many more quotes, but I think that the above comments provide an excellent overview of the incredibly positive experience enjoyed by our membership in Fort Wayne. Like the others who commented above, I look forward to returning to Fort Wayne again. Thanks to you and everyone at Visit Fort Wayne who helped make the 2016 North American SCRABBLE Championship the best event we’ve ever held.
Dallas W. Johnson
Director, 2016 North American
See a slideshow of some photos from the tournament.