All That Fast-Growing Greater Ontario, California Can Offer Your Next Meeting

In this episode of the Meetings Today Podcast, Senior Content Director Danielle LeBreck speaks with Arlette Garibay, director of sales for Greater Ontario, California (GOCAL) about the destination's rapidly growing amenities for meetings and events. Dig into the latest news in this Southern California locale by listening to the interview, or reading the full transcript below.

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Editors note: The following transcription was facilitated by AI program and proofed by our editors. Although it is very accurate, there inevitably will be some mistakes, so please consider that when reading. Thank you.

Danielle: Hello and welcome to this Meetings Today Podcast. I'm Danielle LeBreck, Senior Content Director for Meetings Today. Today's episode features a destination spotlight in the West that has emerged as a Southern California's fastest growing destination. I'm talking about Greater Ontario, California. Here to help us understand greater Ontario's incredible growth and highlight its benefits for meetings, events and conventions is Arlette Garibay, director of sales for Greater Ontario, California, also known as GOCAL. Welcome, Arlette, and thanks for joining us.

Arlette: Hi, Danielle. Thank you so much for having us. It's an honor.

Danielle: So to start, Greater Ontario has become one of the most popular destinations in California. What do you think has contributed to that?

Arlette: Well, you're absolutely right, Danielle. The Inland Empire in Greater Ontario specifically offers so much for visitors and event planners. We have great national amenities, a growing hospitality industry, world-class entertainment venues, great transportation infrastructure and an international airport that serves dozens of domestic and international markets.  

We are also home to the fastest growing population and economic center in California. Today, the Inland Empire consists of 5 million people. It's the 12th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, ahead of such major markets as San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, just to name a few. We've got hundreds of restaurants, 68 hotels and nearly 6800 hotel rooms and are growing. And all within Greater Ontario's Tourism Marketing District. The Ontario International Airport surpassed 6 million passengers in 2023 and is poised to set an all-time record in 2024. So we're definitely a destination to watch.

Danielle: Clearly, there's a lot to be excited about in the region. For visitors and meeting and event planners, especially, why come to Ontario? What makes it stand out as a meetings and events destination, do you think?

Arlette: Of course, great question. Greater Ontario region offers something for everyone: A retail center that attracts more visitors each year than Disneyland; an 11,000-seat arena that attracts a level of entertainment acts; convenient access across the state-of-the-art, transportation and transit network; great restaurants; and hotels from all brands. And of course, not without mention, our beautiful Ontario Convention Center with 225,000 square feet of meeting, flexible meeting space, and 70,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit hall. And near the convention center, 1,500 hotel rooms are within walking distance.

Also, as stakeholder partners, we're all on the same page. The city, Greater Ontario International Airport, the county, the business community, we understand the value of being a premier destination. And we have a commitment on building that. We're a community of rich cultural diversity, which you'll see in the mix of our restaurants, cultural experiences and warmth of our residents and employees. And one thing that our destination, maybe people don't know about it, but really goes unnoticed, is the fact that GOCAL manages all these entities. We manage the convention center, we manage the arena, we manage annual events like Route 66 and Christmas on Euclid. So, it's easier for planners and event organizers to work with us because they'll only work with one person and we can get them access to pricing at the all the venues that I just mentioned. I’ll also get their and guarantees as well. Because we are the experts in GOCAL we can recommend a lot of things for them to do. We pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop.

[Related: 3 Ways Greater Ontario, California Makes Planning Meetings Easier]

Danielle: Definitely a huge benefit for meeting and event planners especially with as busy as everyone is nowadays, that really simplifies the process. There is also a lot of development happening as I understand it in the Greater Ontario region too. What are some things that we can expect in the coming months and years ahead?

Arlette: Well, just like you mentioned, development and expansion. Plans are already underway to expand the Ontario Convention Center, which will include a convention center hotel, and will double in size. As I mentioned, it’s 225,000 square feet today, and we're looking to be at over 400,000 square feet of meeting space. And then that convention center hotel will be somewhere around 600 hotel rooms. So, if you're paying attention, that will mean that we'll have over 2,000 rooms within walking distance to the convention center.  

Also, we have the Toyota Arena entertainment district that has been planned, which will include more entertainment, dining and residential options and a theater to hold 2,500 people.  

Also the City of Ontario is in the process of developing a major sports park, which will include flexible fields for both baseball and soccer or pretty much any sport that can be done on some type of turf grass. We're looking at having about 25 of these fields, and also we're attracting a minor league baseball team to the area, which will also include a baseball park.  

An important element with the transportation access in place is also under development. The new Brightline West high-speed rail from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga will bring millions of travelers when it opens in 2027. Greater Ontario is at the heart of a 21st-century transit network that will include hydrogen-powered passenger trains from Redlands in eastern San Bernardino County, all the way into Los Angeles. The cutting edge emission bus, rapid transit, and airport are still in planning stages, and underground transit tunnel from Rancho Cucamonga to Ontario.

Danielle: Yeah, those are huge developments. Sounds like so much more space and opportunity around the convention center and Toyota Arena. And I know that Bright Line West high-speed rail is big news, and will also really make things a lot easier when the 2028 Olympics come to town. Those are coming to LA. and that, of course, is within easy reach of the Greater Ontario region. So what will the 2028 Olympics really mean for the greater Ontario area?  

Arlette: Well, we are extremely excited about the 2028 Olympics. Coming to Los Angeles, the Olympics will significantly elevate our profile as a destination. Centrally located with easy access to anywhere you need to go. We're also collaborating with our partners at the airport, the city, the county, to leverage the 2028 Olympics, and to showcase all that our region has to offer not just nationally, but to the world. We are all working with our community and regional stakeholders. We're going to make this, as much as we can, a possibility to be able to host more teams, also the traveling tourists. So we're very, very excited about the Olympics coming to California.  

[Related: 4 Developments and Expansions That Will Bolster Greater Ontario, California, Meetings]

Danielle: And all of this investment in not only making the Olympics a great experience for tourists, but also all the development that you've talked about for meetings and conventions. This will just only benefit meetings and events as we move forward. So that's all really exciting news.

Arlette: We have a great team. We have a lot of experience. Just myself here, I've been here 17 years. But our sales team together combined, we have over 50 years of experience. Our president and CEO Michael Krause, who has been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years. We have a lot of longevity, we have a lot of experience, we do consider ourselves the Greater Ontario experts. And we know everything you need to do and where you need to go and who you need to talk to. So hopefully meeting planners will take that into consideration when looking for a destination—that they know they'll be in good hands.

Danielle: Absolutely. That longevity and combined years of expertise is so valuable. Well, that's all the time we have today. There's just so much to be excited about in Greater Ontario. Thank you so much, Arlette, for walking us through some of these highlights. I really appreciate your time.

Arlette: No, thank you, Danielle. And of course, thank you to Meetings Today for giving us this opportunity to showcase who we are and everything we have to offer. We’re a great destination. We're very proud of it, of who we have been and who we're becoming. So in the next few years, definitely keep an eye on GOCAL because we're going to be a destination to watch.

Danielle: Absolutely. And thank you all to our listeners for tuning into the Meetings Today Podcast. You can learn more about Greater Ontario by visiting or by visiting GOCAL’s website

Also, don't miss the opportunity to listen to more Meetings Today podcasts. You can find episodes featuring destinations, thought leaders, industry event coverage and more at, or any podcast platform you prefer, like Spotify, Apple podcasts and others. Thank you again to Arlette and Greater Ontario, California for sponsoring today's episode. Until next time. 

This podcast is sponsored by Greater Ontario, California (GOCAL)

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About the author
Danielle LeBreck | Senior Content Director

Danielle started at Meetings Today in March 2019 after seven years of editorial experience in the travel and food industries. She oversees all of the destination content for Meetings Today and collaborates with the team on digital content strategy and content marketing initiatives.