Skip to Main Content

 View All News

Release Date: May 12,2023

Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau hosts 20th Annual Zenith Awards Luncheon

AKRON, OH (May 12, 2023) – This week, the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau (ASCVB) held its 20th annual Zenith Awards at the John S. Knight Center. The Zenith Awards luncheon recognizes hospitality industry partners within Summit County ranging from attractions and restaurants to hotels and shops.

The event is held during National Travel and Tourism Week, which highlights the significant impact that travel and tourism have on our economy, businesses and personal wellbeing. According to a Tourism Economics report, in 2021, Summit County’s hospitality industry had a workforce of more than 15,000 individuals and boasted $1.4 billion in direct visitor expenditures, including accommodations, dining, retail, entertainment and transportation.

In a beautifully set room of over 200 individuals, our local hospitality industry and workers were honored. Ren Camacho, board chair of the ASCVB and president & CEO of Akron-Canton Airport, and Gregg Mervis, president & CEO of the ASCVB, presented awards to 15 partners and shared how creativity, dedication and working together will enable the industry to continue to thrive.

“The Zenith Awards is our opportunity to say thank you to our valued friends and partners,” said Gregg Mervis. “The experiences they provide make our community engaging, diverse and authentic. We appreciate their talents and recognize the contributions they make to Summit County’s hospitality industry.”

Doug Piekarz, president & CEO of the Akron Zoo, was the recipient of the 2023 Chairman’s Award. This award is given to a partner in the hospitality industry who has made significant, innovative and notable contributions; who advocates for our collective work in elevating, growing and promoting Greater Akron and Summit County as a premier hospitality/tourism destination; and a leadership legacy that has left a longstanding, positive impact on the hospitality industry.

The Susan L. Hamo Hospitality Person of the Year Award is given to an individual who epitomizes hospitality and demonstrates unwavering commitment and exceptional dedication to their work. Jeff Lynch, vice president of development for RDA Hotel Management Company, was this year’s award winner.

The Hospitality Industry Awards and “You Tell the Tourist” Awards were the remainder of the luncheon. Both categories are determined by nominations submitted to the ASCVB.

20th Annual Zenith Award Winners:

  • Chairman’s Award: Doug Piekarz, Akron Zoo
  • Susan L. Hamo Hospitality Person of the Year Award: Jeff Lynch, RDA Hotel Management Company
  • Hospitality Industry Awards:
    • Hospitality Social Media: Akron-Canton Airport
    • Hospitality Volunteer: Heather Morrow
    • Friend of Hospitality: Kristen Scalione and Angela Payerle, Akron Zoo and American Association of Zookeepers
    • Spirit of Hospitality: Soap Box Derby
    • Hospitality Partnership: Akron Children’s Museum, Akron Zoo, Robert O. and Annamae Orr Family Foundation
    • Rookie of the Year: Kaylee Piper, Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership
  • “You Tell the Tourist” Awards:
    • Your Attendance is Mandatory: Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
    • Best Retail Therapy: Don Drumm Studios & Gallery
    • Ultimate Palate Pleaser Food: Swenson’s Drive-In
    • Ultimate Palate Pleaser Drink: Cashmere Cricket
    • Best Photo Op: Cascade Valley Metro Park Overlook Area, Summit Metro Parks
    • Hottest Hidden Treasure: Gypsy Grace & the Vintage Goat
    • Can’t Miss Tourism Experience: Ohio Shakespeare Festival

About the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau:

Established 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.