Info

Destination On The Left

Destination On The Left is a podcast focused on the travel and tourism industry that explores successful collaborations, creative marketing ideas and best practices. Interviews are a mix of Destination Marketers, Industry Leaders, Consultants and businesses in the industry. We explore consumer marketing programs and travel trade marketing programs. This podcast provides an opportunity for professionals in the travel & tourism industry to share what they have learned and successes that they have achieved.
RSS Feed
Destination On The Left
2022
June
May
April
March
February
January


2021
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October


All Episodes
Archives
Now displaying: August, 2021
Aug 25, 2021

For this second episode in a special three part series of Destination on the Left episodes, I visited the Destinations International 2021 Annual Convention and spoke with several attendees who are experts in the travel and tourism industry. These guests shared remarkable insights in their mini-interviews, and our conversations were focused on the bright spots and silver linings they were able to discover during this unprecedented and challenging period of global pandemic. The brilliance each of these leaders shared is certain to be invaluable as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

In this episode, you’ll hear from these extraordinary leaders:

  • Tammy Blount-Canavan – Executive Vice President, President and Principal at Fired-Up! Culture
  • Gordon Taylor – Vice President of Convention Sales & Services at Destination Cleveland
  • Greg LaDuca – Vice President of Industry Relations & Visitor Experience at Visit Rochester
  • Jack Johnson – Chief Advocacy Officer at Destinations International
  • Jill Delaney – President & CEO of Discover Albany
  • Julie Gilbert – Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Destination Niagara USA
  • Liz Fitzsimmons – Managing Director of the Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism and Film
  • Shannon Lowery – Content & Social Media Manager for Visit Savannah

Visionary Travel and Tourism Leaders at the Destinations International 2021 Annual Convention

The Destinations International Annual Convention is an incredible yearly event that brings together experts from both within and outside of the travel and tourism industry, to exchange ideas and collaborative solutions for the many challenges our industry faces today. This year’s convention was uniquely focused on the challenges and opportunities we have experienced over the past two years, and it was my honor to speak to some of the extraordinary guests to get their insights into where we started as the pandemic began, where we’ve been, and where we’re going in the future of our industry in a post-pandemic world.

Tammy Blount-Canavan from Fired-Up! Culture

Tammy shares why patience is such a crucial virtue when dealing with the unexpected and the uncertain. She explains how increased collaboration in her organization has helped them navigate this complexity. She also highlights how organizations are emerging leaner and more nimble than ever before, reexamining their goals and adapting to today’s challenges and opportunities. She explains how smaller teams filled with “cross-functional ninjas” are advancing travel and tourism organizations in this new era.

Gordon Taylor from Destination Cleveland

Gordon explains why focusing on and celebrating personal and professional wins has helped his team navigate the emotional challenges of the pandemic. He explains why it is crucial to create a culture where people know they’re loved and cared about. He talks about how this same degree of empathy is important to extend to clients, and he shares how this past year has helped Destination Cleveland better understand the needs and challenges of their clients.

Greg LaDuca from Visit Rochester

Greg talks about how Visit Rochester recognized a need for increased diversity within their membership, and he discusses how Destination International helped him navigate the complexities of the pandemic. He talks about how Visit Rochester has worked to reach out in partnership with local businesses owned by BIPOC business leaders to foster greater diversity within the organization and a stronger reflection of the community at large. He shares how flexibility and empathy have been crucial for helping members navigate the pandemic.

Jack Johnson from Destinations International

Jack shares how travel and tourism organizations have found new purpose by shifting their focus from attracting outside visitors to working to serve their local communities, and he explains why collaboration within local communities is the key to bringing value to those communities. He explains why it’s important for destination organizations to maintain that local focus even as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.

Jill Delaney from Discover Albany

Jill explains how Discover Albany has used the pandemic as an opportunity to break out of their old way of doing things and innovate new, more flexible solutions. Jill shares how the pandemic sped up the time table for these changes and created an opportunity even for people who typically aren’t comfortable with change to reflect and shake things up.

Julie Gilbert from Destination Niagara USA

Julie talks about the growing importance of personalization in messaging to audiences. She shares how Destination Niagara USA is focused on testing to help adapt to swiftly changing consumer expectations. She celebrates the travel trade returning in such a strong, healthy way, and she shares how her organization is preparing for the coming months with a “bucket list” campaign (and sub-campaigns) that her organization has utilized throughout the year.

Liz Fitzsimmons from Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism and Film

Liz shares how trusting other organizations within the industry and being open to collaboration has been key, and she shares how working with a planning partner helped provide a roadmap to navigate the pandemic. She discusses how the blueprint her office was able to create with their planning partner’s help has served as a guiding star and a focus point throughout the pandemic.

Shannon Lowery from Visit Savannah

Shannon shares how increased accountability on social media platforms has given her a greater sense of empowerment in her role. She shares how this increased accountability and ability to push back against harmful narratives has created a positive impression that has resonated with many of Visit Savannah’s followers.

Flexibility, Empathy, and Collaboration

The pandemic has brought unprecedented levels of upheaval to virtually every aspect of our modern lives, but the destination travel and tourism industry has seen some of the biggest shifts. Adapting to these challenges has required innovative thinking, new approaches, and strengthened relationships. As you heard from many of the guests I interviewed in this episode, there have been some powerful silver linings and positive experiences that have come out of the pandemic, things that we can take forward into the future.

Leaning into our local communities, listening and being empathetic, being flexible and ready to adapt, strengthening existing partnerships and creating new ones will continue to serve the destination travel and tourism industry long into the future, even after we emerge from the pandemic. If we embrace the lessons this chaotic period has taught us, our entire industry will be stronger for it.

I’m so grateful for these remarkable experts and professionals who took the time to speak with me and share their insights. I hope you enjoyed their unique perspectives in this second episode in our three part series.

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Aug 18, 2021

For this first episode in a special three part series of Destination on the Left episodes, I visited the Destinations International 2021 Annual Convention and spoke with several attendees who are experts in the travel and tourism industry. These guests shared remarkable insights in their mini-interviews, and our conversations were focused on the bright spots and silver linings they were able to discover during this unprecedented and challenging period of global pandemic. The brilliance each of these leaders shared is certain to be invaluable as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

In this episode, you’ll hear from these extraordinary leaders:

  • Andria Godfrey – Vice President, Longwoods International
  • Bree Nidds – Vice President of Sales, Discover Lehigh Valley
  • Brian Bossuyt – Executive Vice President and COO, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau
  • David Holder – CEO, Clarity of Place
  • Jamie Furbush – President and CEO, Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Josiah Brown – President, New York’s Best Experience (a division of Famous Destination Marketing)
  • Kurt Krause – President and CEO, VisitNorfolk
  • Valerie Knoblauch – President and CEO, Visit Finger Lakes

Visionary Travel and Tourism Leaders at the Destinations International 2021 Annual Convention

The Destinations International Annual Convention is an incredible yearly event that brings together experts from both within and outside of the travel and tourism industry, to exchange ideas and collaborative solutions for the many challenges our industry faces today. This year’s convention was uniquely focused on the challenges and opportunities we have experienced over the past two years, and it was my honor to speak to some of the extraordinary guests to get their insights into where we started as the pandemic began, where we’ve been, and where we’re going in the future of our industry in a post-pandemic world.

Andria Godfrey from Longwoods International

Andria shares some of the key statistics and insights Longwoods International has been able to gain from their American Travel Sentiment survey throughout the pandemic crisis. Respondents have reported a high pent-up demand to travel, even during the most difficult periods of the pandemic outbreak. Andria sees this as an opportunity as we navigate the pandemic and beyond. The younger traveler demographic is a growing segment that presents many new opportunities as we move forward, and our messaging should keep these younger travelers in mind.

Bree Nidds from Discover Lehigh Valley

Bree discusses the rapid changes affecting our industry, and she shares how the Discover Lehigh Valley team developed new skills and strategies to adapt to the speed of these changes. This team growth has allowed people to truly shine in new ways. Discover Lehigh Valley has made a conscious shift toward content creation, and as team members have honed their on-screen presentation and writing skills, this has created extraordinary new ways to highlight the destination.

Brian Bossuyt from Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau

Brian shares how close partnerships and collaborations with stakeholders and business leaders have been instrumental in his organization’s success and their strengthened messaging. By bringing together so many interested organizations, the Visitors Bureau has been able to amplify their message. And these collaborations have had a positive effect on the community as a whole, creating a powerful ripple effect. Brian also discusses how their TV station has proven to be a valuable asset and an extraordinary communication and education channel, both before and during the pandemic crisis.

David Holder from Clarity of Place

David shares how the key to this challenging period has been the opportunity it has presented to re-examine everything we do and innovate new solutions. David shares how the greatest destination leaders have used initiative, new content development strategies, and a different approach that goes beyond destination marketing to drive their organizations forward through the pandemic. He also shares how it has become important for organizations in our industry to become more than just cheerleaders for their communities but to serve as a bridge between the community and the destinations within it. David says it’s critical for us to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach to marketing as we move forward.

Jamie Furbush from Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau

Jamie discusses how even simple, little things have become necessities through the pandemic and its restrictions, and she shares how seeing our spaces in a new light and finding new uses for these spaces can become a powerful opportunity even after the pandemic. Jamie highlights the role that collaboration has played for Frankenmuth, and she discusses the stronger connections that facing the many challenges has allowed her community to forge.

Josiah Brown from New York’s Best Experience (a division of Famous Destination Marketing)

Josiah shares why the biggest lesson he has learned through the pandemic is how much we all truly need each other. He discusses how the pandemic has brought both times of clarity and times of confusion, and he explains why collaborations have been crucial for helping each other navigate the moments of fog and take advantage of the moments of brilliance. Josiah discusses how generosity and idea-sharing have been hallmarks of the pandemic that have served to universally strengthen the industry. He also discusses how video conferencing tools like Zoom may continue to be valuable even after the pandemic. He talks about how the tourism industry is shifting to a “play, live, work” economic development model for the first time.

Kurt Krause from VisitNorfolk

Kurt shares how the initial challenge for his organization was timing their programs without knowing how long restrictions would last or how long the pandemic would impact travel. He shares how focusing on Norfolk’s strengths and highlights has been key. He discusses the pent-up travel demands, and he shares how his community partnered with nearby Virginia Beach to create an outreach campaign to increase awareness of the area’s features and destinations. These two communities worked together and became stronger together than they would have been independently. He shares how $1 million in investment turned into $6 million in hotel room sales, and he highlights some of the other benefits this program provided to Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Valerie Knoblauch from Visit Finger Lakes

Valerie shares how the pandemic created a unique opportunity to truly lean into the diverse skills of her staff, but also to “lend out” those skills where they were most needed. She shares how the county government needed help with their early pandemic safety messaging to travelers and residents, and she explains how helping the county with this messaging has created powerful new relationships and new opportunities for Visit Finger Lakes.

Collaboration is Key

As these extraordinary leaders shared, collaboration has been one of the key recurring themes that has helped each of these organizations chart a new path forward through uncertain waters. From working with other nearby destinations to coordinating their efforts with their larger community, collaboration has become a powerful resource for everyone involved.

I hope you enjoy this first part of the three part Destinations International 2021 Annual Convention series. Next week, we’ll hear from even more remarkable leaders and we’ll take a look at more of the bright sides, silver linings and moments of brilliance that have helped our industry move forward through this challenging period.

Aug 11, 2021

Will Seccombe is President of Connect Travel, a strategic marketing business that connects destination marketers with the products, services, people, and ideas that help them thrive in a rapidly evolving and highly competitive global marketplace.

Prior to joining the tourism marketing company in May 2017, Will served four years as President and Chief Executive Officer for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s destination marketing organization. He joined VISIT FLORIDA in March 2008 as Chief Marketing Officer, and International and out-of-state visitors to the Sunshine State increased from 80 million in 2009 to over 112 million in 2016, with an associated annual increase in visitor spending of over $30 billion.

Will’s career began as regional sales manager with Vail Associates in 1989. He then moved on to Loveland Ski Areas in 1992 as director of marketing, vice president of marketing for the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1995, and vice president and chief operating officer with PRACO, LTD in 1999. In 2004, Seccombe founded Revolution Communications, LLC, a digital travel marketing firm. Will was named one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing by HSMAI, Top 50 Global Marketers in Travel by Skift, and the 2014 Hospitality Legend of the Year by the South Florida HSMAI.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Will Seccombe, who joins me to share his perspective on creativity and collaboration in the travel industry. We discuss the upcoming eTourism Summit and the benefits that participants will get from the industry collaboration. Will also shares why he thinks that creativity is a critical skill for marketers and why building positive and productive relationships will push the industry forward over the coming months.

What You Will Learn:

  • Why Will made the leap from mountain destinations to beach destinations and his career trajectory so far
  • Will’s insights into current innovation in the travel industry as a response to the events of the last 18 months
  • How destination marketers can recognize and tell the story of their key differentiator
  • Why traditional targeting is no longer working and what destination marketers can do instead
  • How the eTourism Summit evolved and what participants will get from the collaboration
  • Will’s insights on how collaboration is going to help carry the travel industry forward

Innovations in Storytelling

Creativity has never been a more important skill set than it is today. The travel industry as a whole in 2019 saw record visitor numbers, so there was no real incentive to innovate. The events of 2020 and the challenges the sector faced forced innovation and creativity and drove destinations to reevaluate their messaging. Will shares his thoughts on the new ways destination marketers are using social media to tell their stories and why he feels the playing field has been reset going forward.

Capture the Authenticity

The concept of branding is to tell our stories, and the best way to get to the heart of a destination is to leverage feedback from visitors and community experiences to tell that story. We discuss why hearing about lived experiences captures the genuine authenticity of a place and why the voices of the people who are passionate about your destination are so powerful in attracting new visitors.

Aug 4, 2021

Kurian Mathew Tharakan is the founder of the sales and marketing strategy firm StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors and a 27-year sales and marketing industry veteran. He has consulted for companies in numerous sectors. Mr. Tharakan is also the author of the Amazon Bestseller, “The 7 Essential Stories Charismatic Leaders Tell,” which details how anyone can move people and mountains with the power of story.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Kurian Tharakan about the importance of storytelling as a tool for sales and marketing. He shares the seven stories that every leader should tell and how stories make activities and destinations come alive for the listener. Kurian also shares case studies of how destinations can leverage collaboration and community relationships to tell their authentic stories and attract more visitors.

What You Will Learn:

  • The importance of creating curiosity with a relatable story
  • What an ‘idea stack’ is and how it can help build your authentic story
  • How to develop your marketing to make value propositions
  • Why collaboration is so beneficial when you’re telling your destination story
  • How destinations can embrace the diversity and equity and inclusion movement in the stories they tell

Tell Your Authentic Story

If you have an authentic story, you’re more likely to engage people’s imagination. Take control of the narrative by using stories to lead your teams internally and to lead markets externally. You’re not focusing on a single idea, but rather an ‘idea stack’ that appeals to different audiences and sets you apart from your competitors. Kurain shares his seven essential stories and describes why every marketer needs to create a Venn diagram for their central story.

Engage Attention

Stories begin with intrigue and curiosity, and whatever you want the customer to hear should be functionally relevant and emotionally significant. Collaboration is important when telling your story; you can engage the whole tourism ecosystem — from boutique hotels to niche activities — to create curiosity in potential visitors. By thinking broadly about your destination, you can create a story that engages a range of audiences.

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

1