New Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center General Manager Robert Smit. Courtesy photo.

A familiar face is returning to Long Beach to run the Convention Center.

Robert Smit—who served as the vice president and general manager for the Holiday Inn Long Beach Airport Hotel and Conference Center from 2011 to 2016—has been named the general manager of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center starting Aug. 1, the center’s operator ASM Global announced Thursday.

Since leaving Long Beach, he has served in a variety of roles, including as a customer success director for hospitality technology service firm Mews, principal innovator for Rancho Cucamonga-based consultant Pacific Global Hospitality and regional vice president for outdoor hospitality provider AutoCamp in San Francisco.

Smit will take the place of Charlie Beirne, who left Long Beach in April after 11 years at the helm of the Convention Center to accept a general manager role at the Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

“I am thrilled to be coming back to Long Beach to manage the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, which has been recognized many times over for its innovation and creativity in the meetings and events space,” Smit said in a release. “I look forward to working with the ASM Global team, the City, and the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau to position the center as a top destination for conventions, events, and entertainment.”

Beirne’s replacement brings over 40 years of experience in the hospitality and meetings industry, including executive management positions at major hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott.

“In recruiting for this position, we sought someone with a wide range of skills and a varied background,” ASM Global Executive Vice President Bob McClintock said. “Robert’s experience, business acumen and attention to detail match ASM’s commitment to the customer experience and the shared vision for the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center’s future.”

As general manager, Smit will oversee the daily operations and long-term planning of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.

“Not only does Robert have an incredible background in the convention and hospitality industry, he also has a strong working knowledge of the local industry and our convention center as a former local GM and past-chair of the Long Beach CVB,” President and CEO of the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau Steve Goodling said. “We look forward to working with the center’s incredible team under his leadership.”

Moving forward, some of the key priorities of the Convention Center include expanding programming, identifying funding opportunities for improvements to the center and continuing to strengthen the center’s image as an attractive meeting and convention host.

Christian May-Suzuki

Christian May-Suzuki is a reporter at the Long Beach Business Journal.