On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Todd Stallbaumer. He shares his experience working to promote tourism in Oklahoma as the Consumer and Trade Marketing Director for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. We discuss the importance of finding your claims and how determining them can help you stand out. Todd also discusses the importance of culture and diversity and how recognizing and respecting that can open travelers up to a new and unique experience. Lastly, we cover the importance of finding commonality and how that can lead to meaningful connections and lasting partnerships.
Have you ever traveled somewhere and expected one thing based on what you’d seen on TV or heard about the place and experienced something completely different? So many travelers have preconceived notions about destinations and what they expect to see when they get there.
This week, my guest on the Destination on the Left podcast is Todd Stallbaumer, Consumer and Trade Marketing Director for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Todd learned very quickly that many people had stereotypes for what they expected Oklahoma to look like. In the episode, we dive into how he tries to reimagine those stereotypes to create an entirely different experience for travelers.
We dive into how Todd found Oklahoma’s claim. In other words, he explains how he came to find what sets Oklahoma apart from other places. What you’ll be interested to know is that it’s the state’s diversity and culture that make it a unique place to visit. Todd explains how he is utilizing the state’s culture to drive new and exciting tourism opportunities for visitors to dive into the various communities found in Oklahoma.
Toward the end of the podcast, we dive into Todd’s ability to find commonality with a really unique set of people. While this group of people lives all across America in very different states, they have found very specific criteria that put them in the same circle. It was so interesting to hear from Todd how they came to form this group and how he was able to find these very niche commonalities that have led to such a resourceful and helpful partnership.
Todd and I dive into the details of his dynamic group and how they use their commonalities to help each other. From sharing connections, resources, problems, and sales pitches, this team has helped each other’s states and cities find new ways to draw tourism. And, through these commonalities, they are able to refer travelers to each other and make connections with other similar travel destinations as they grow.
Rhonda Carges is VP Operations & Senior Consultant at Break the Ice Media. Rhonda brings more than 25 years of sales, new business development, and travel trade experience to the table. This translates into great partnership strategies and creative thinking for our clients. Rhonda is a master at creating relationships, and her deep understanding of the industry helps her create win-win opportunities for her clients. Rhonda and her team often act as a much-needed sales and marketing arm for Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs), providing travel trade marketing, program management, partnership development, tracking, and reporting to the mix. She’s a forward-thinker who always knows where the market is headed – and how best to capitalize on those trends in the moment.
Adena Miller is a Consultant for Break the Ice Media. Adena brings the art of storytelling to her role as Consultant at Break the Ice Media. As a young child, her parents’ art gallery often set the scene for her creative writing, and she later went on to develop her craft as a college newspaper reporter. Weber Shandwick Chicago allowed her to hone her public relations skills across several national food and beverage accounts, and she has the windy city to thank for being transformed into a self-proclaimed foodie. A grant recipient to pursue a travel, food, and wine writing seminar in Saint-Émilion, France, further ignited her passion for wine and travel. She brings more than 15 years of public relations expertise to Break the Ice Media, where she develops media, blog, newsletter, and social content and executes event planning.
Lisa Doerner is a Senior Consultant for Break the Ice Media and the Executive Director of Travel Alliance Partners. Lisa’s background is in marketing and operations, but her path into the travel and tourism industry is an unusual one. She started her career working for a large corporation in product marketing and then working as the Executive Director for a technology association. These roles set the groundwork for her current position as Executive Director for Travel Alliance Partners (TAP), a corporation focused on connecting tour operators, travel buyers, and suppliers.
Lisa leads the TAP management team in developing operational and marketing strategies to help Travel Alliance Partners strengthen their partnerships, increase their businesses and expand their company tour portfolios. The past couple of years have found Lisa and her team reimagining how they can deliver a quality travel industry conference and marketing initiatives to TAP’s audiences despite the challenges facing the travel industry.
On this episode of Destination on the Left this week, I have a slightly different show format for you. I have been reflecting on how much the travel and tourism industry has been through in the last two years. Different destinations and industry segments have had markedly different challenges; for some, 2021 was a bumper year but for others. 2021 was another year of struggle and record low numbers. The changing state of the pandemic is felt quickly in our industry, and 2021 has seen unprecedented highs and lows. So, today, I decided to invite three team members from the Break the Ice Media team onto the show to share their perspectives and experiences as we enter into the subsequent recovery phase. I’m so excited to be joined on the show by Adena Miller, Lisa Doerner, and Rhonda Carges as we ponder both what the future holds and how we can take lessons learned during difficult times forward to serve and support the travel and tourism industry.
On speaking to the team, both during this discussion and more widely over the past few months, the importance of staying connected with people has been highlighted again and again. Talking with Adena Miller, a Consultant for Break the Ice Media, reminded me why it is essential to foster a deeper connection, even when we can’t meet in person by sharing pictures or stories.
Within the Break the Ice Media team and with our clients and partners, we found that the willingness to be open, vulnerable, and honest made a huge difference in staying positive and looking to the future.
In 2021 we saw some amazing and successful out-of-the-box thinking; Rhonda Carges, VP Operations & Senior Consultant at Break the Ice Media, joined me on the podcast this week to share her experience of embracing new ideas over the last few months. We discuss how travel and tour operators pivoted to provide online events and conferences that allowed people to ‘meet’ and make connections in a new way. The past two years’ uncertainty and adversity have embedded the mindset of growing when times are tough and seeing opportunity in difficulty.
Lisa Doerner, a Senior Consultant at Break the Ice Media and the Executive Director of Travel Alliance Partners, also joined me this week on the show. We really dug into the role of a leader in the travel sector and why all of us have learned and developed more than we ever imagined possible. Lisa describes how one of the things that stood out to her was that negativity and discouragement could spread across an organization quickly and why the leadership must stay positive, despite uncertainty about the future.
Our industry is resilient, and people will continue to travel, but going forward, we will have to embrace change with open arms to be successful. Rhonda describes why suppliers need to be flexible and communicative and look for opportunities to collaborate as we move into recovery in 2022. It’s all about thinking about how we can work together; rather than working in silos, seek out the competition because your neighbor can end up being your biggest asset.
People are so ready to get back out there in 2022, and wherever we fit in the travel and tourism industry we can be a continued source of inspiration for our clients and get creative with the types of trips and experiences that travelers are craving.
Cheryl Kilday, President & CEO, Destination North Myrtle Beach, CDME, has contributed to the communities where she has lived through destination development, tourism promotion, and economic development initiatives. And she has an extensive background working with not-for-profit membership-based organizations that affect a positive impact on the local economy and quality of life.
Cheryl joined the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau in October 2018. She previously led Visit Spokane from 2010 until October 2018 after living in the Washington DC region in Northern Virginia for several years. She launched Visit Loudoun in 1996 and was the President and CEO for nearly 15 years. She began her tourism adventure in the Willamette Valley in Oregon after graduating from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Cheryl also earned the prestigious Certified Destination Marketing Executive (CDME) designation through Destinations International in 2011 and has achieved Destination Management Accreditation in both Spokane, Washington, Loudoun, Virginia, and North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Cheryl is a Trustee for Destinations International Travel Foundation and serves on committees for Destinations International Foundation and Association boards.
Her career honors include recognition for leadership in the meetings industry by Smart Meetings Magazine, and awards for marketing and public relations programs from US Travel, HSMAI, and an Emmy®.
On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Cheryl Kilday, who shares why she believes that working for a tourism office that is part of a Chamber of Commerce gives her office a considerable advantage. We discuss how Cheryl sees the future of tourism evolving and why the curation of destinations’ stories is likely to focus more on creating a connection between places and their visitors by positioning them where potential guests are searching. Cheryl also dives into what she loves about working in the travel industry and why a huge part of the joy she finds in her job lies in the connections she builds with the local community.
Over the last couple of years, times have been challenging in the travel and tourism industry, and DMOs have had to get clever and creative. COVID-19 has required them to try new approaches and behave differently while we figured out how our world would evolve.
This week, my guest on the Destination on the Left podcast is Cheryl Kilday, President & CEO of Destination North Myrtle Beach. She joins me to share what she and her team did to let their residents and visitors know how they were going to keep them safe. We discuss the creative ways that North Mrytle Beach developed media campaigns that kept them accountable and transparent with their community to demonstrate that they were being sensitive to the needs of both the workforce and the visitors.
We dive into the fun ways that Cheryl and her team brought North Myrtle Beach to their visitors when the visitors couldn’t come to them — including putting together a Spotify radio channel of beach music, sending videos of dance lessons to learn how to do the South Carolina shag dance, and setting up cooking classes. They also developed a road trip toolkit so that people would have a fun way to connect with them on their way to North Myrtle Beach when they were ready to return.
We dig into Cheryl’s experience of North Myrtle Beach’s collaboration with the regional DMO and how the spirit of partnership helped them move forward. I often talk about ‘coopetition,’ the idea of competitors coming together to cooperate and create bigger wins together than they can achieve independently. Cheryl shares some examples of how her small community works to differentiate itself from its larger neighbor to the south — including setting up a co-op. The co-op is a voluntary organization that contributes money to help guide the destination marketing that differentiates its brand positioning. They also have a collaborative program called Momentum that helps them raise funds for specific projects or initiatives that go beyond what the co-op dues would support.
Cheryl and I also dive into the details of her destination master plan, when the destination plans to launch it and how they have been able to fund the project through creative coopetition. She describes the ultimate goals of North Myrtle Beach to brand itself as somewhere that partners with residents to go through an inclusive community-based planning process on how they want their destination to be in the long term.
I loved Cheryl’s take on how opportunities for cooperation advance the common good by allowing everyone to buy into a common goal and work together to achieve spectacular results.
With a talent for creating special events that blossomed while working for my dad’s car stereo shop, I got my start in marketing at Frontier Field in Rochester and began serving as the executive director of the internationally known Lilac Festival. Later on, I headed the Canandaigua, New York Business Improvement District while also performing projects for the tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester.
In 2009, I founded Break the Ice Media, with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing. I now host “Destination on the Left,” a highly successful tourism marketing podcast.
As a business owner, I know what it takes to be successful. I founded BTI to help businesses tell their brand story through public relations, digital and traditional channels. I have the ability to uncover unique marketing opportunities and develop marketing and public relations initiatives that help clients build long-term success.
On this episode of Destination on the Left, I discuss why I’m starting 2022 with a sense of reflection, renewal, and anticipation for what is ahead. Since 2020 I have been on a journey to understand the world in a broader sense, which has led to a search for greater meaning and a focus on intentionality in my actions. This week I want to share what I have done to understand differences, identify opportunities for personal growth, and take action to help make my world more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.
Over the last two years, my small company has been grappling with how we fit within the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion conversation, and we have really committed to educating ourselves around the topic.
I was very candid in Solocast 16 about the team’s journey to live out the ‘equitable’ core value within our company, and we have recently reflected on our most recent client work to see how it is significantly impacting our collective worldview. When examining how we aligned with our values, we found that we needed to work on developing more diverse partner, freelance, and subcontractor relationships to ensure we represent a wide range of viewpoints.
Big things will happen when you set your intentions and start to take action. You may feel as if you are taking baby steps at first, but time will pass, and you will realize that all those incremental moves have led to a monumental shift and change in your organization. I’m grateful that we took this journey and for the lessons we learned along the way, particularly the importance of humility and vulnerability when addressing biases and issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.