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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.
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Feb 21, 2024

Rowena Sahulee is a marketing executive with over 20 years in the dual realms of tourism and economic development.

She has worked in marketing functions at organizations such as Circle Line Statue of Liberty Ferry and Harbor Cruises, the first concessionaire to the Statue of Liberty. The Greater Houston Partnership, the main business organization in the Houston, Texas, 10-country region. Choose NJ, the economic development marketing organization for the State of New Jersey.

After Choosing NJ, she started with Empire State Development in the Division of Tourism, I LOVE NY, as the Director of Tourism Marketing, Licensing, and Public Relations for New York State. She worked with their PR agency for journalists to write about the States’ 11 vacation regions. Additionally, she oversaw the multi-million dollar retail licensing program for the I LOVE NY logo and tourism segment marketing programs.

Her next role was with the Long Island City Partnership, the local neighborhood economic development entity in Long Island City, Queens, as their Director of Marketing & Communications.

Today, she has started her own tour operation, Meaningful Experiences, utilizing her expertise to offer NYC experiences, day trips outside of NYC, and overnight getaways to the local market. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Buffalo and her Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Rowena about the importance of serving the locals in your destination, how important relationships are to success, and why protecting the integrity of your brand is so important. Rowena also shares details about her unique business model and how she found a niche not already covered in New York City.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How Rowena found a gap in the market for hassle-free trips and meaningful experiences
  • Her vision of creating collaborative initiatives that enhance the community’s connection to New York’s attractions
  • Why Rowena is collaborating with a local talent agency to create a monthly Broadway program
  • Rowena’s vision for future collaborations that enrich the local community
  • The importance of being open to unexpected opportunities, staying adaptable, and remaining open-minded

Embracing Unexpected Opportunities

Rowena and I discuss the importance of being open to opportunities, even unexpected ones. She shares how her career trajectory, spanning the public sector, private sector, and nonprofits, has equipped her with a deep understanding of destination marketing and community engagement. I love that Rowena’s passion for capturing meaningful moments and her dedication to offering unique experiences really shine through in our conversation.

Meaningful Experiences in a Changing Market

Rowena shares more about how she identified a gap in the market for meaningful experiences, especially for families and corporate groups. Drawing from her extensive experience in the travel and tourism sector her company, Meaningful Experiences, brings tours directly to New York communities, aiming to make experiencing the city easier and more enriching. Rowena’s focus on collaboration and shared goals exemplifies her approach to creating impactful local initiatives.

Innovations in Tourism Marketing

On the show, Rowena expresses her excitement about bringing tourism experiences to the local market and discusses her recent collaboration with a friend who owns a talent agency to create a monthly Broadway program. This collaboration illustrates her innovative approach to promoting Broadway and fostering a love for the arts within local communities. Rowena’s vision for future collaborations with other local groups demonstrates her commitment to pioneering amazing and unique experiences that really do enrich the local market.

Resources:

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/

Feb 14, 2024

This week we’re coming to you directly from the ABA Marketplace in Nashville, where I’m talking to eight amazing travel industry experts about why there’s a sense of energy and forward focus in 2024. They share more about the experiences visitors to their destinations are requesting and dig into the importance of authenticity and making genuine connections between visitors and locals.

In this episode, you’ll hear from these travel and tourism industry leaders:

Key Insights from ABA Marketplace 2024

The ABA Marketplace 2024 conference brings together travel and tourism professionals to share insights, discuss industry trends, and explore opportunities for growth and collaboration. It’s a fantastic opportunity to connect and exchange ideas, and it emphasizes the significance of partnership and sustainability in the industry.

Lorey Hall: Leisure Sales Manager, Meet Northern Kentucky

Lorey discusses the significance of building relationships in the travel and tourism industry and shares why attending industry events is such a great idea for new professionals. She also stresses the importance of authenticity, professionalism, and persistence in building successful partnerships.

Kris Hoff: President & CEO, Happy Times Tours and Experiences

Building strong connections with tour operators enhances visitor offerings. Kris shares why he prioritizes offering exclusive, hands-on, immersive experiences and discusses the trend towards experiential travel. He also digs into the value of the connections made at events like ABA Marketplace and why they’re crucial for building relationships, not just for business but also for future personal connections.

Adam Jacobson: Director of Sales & Marketing, Villa Roma

Adam reflects on the meaning of partnership and shares his reaction to winning the Spirit of Partnership Award at ABA. His word for the ABA Marketplace is ‘partnerships’; and he describes why he enjoys making connections and meeting other people in the industry.

Sonya Nash: Executive Director at LaGrange County, IN CVB/Visit Shipshewana

Sonya emphasizes the importance of building genuine relationships in the travel and tourism industry, which takes time and dedication. She encourages new professionals to be authentic, provide results, and maintain professionalism while being actively engaged in industry organizations and events.

Jill Shorkey: Director of Group Tours, Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region

There’s no doubt that the last few years have been tough for the travel and tourism industry, which is why Jill is so excited about the returning numbers of visitors and travelers post-pandemic. She discusses the interest in creating memorable group experiences and highlights the importance of making connections with industry colleagues, and partners to enhance offerings, entice travelers, and encourage repeat visits.

Marlene Smith: Sales Manager, Traverse City Tourism

Marlene shares her excitement for the tourism industry in 2024, mentioning increased business for tour operators and the opportunity to explore new destinations. There is a focus on developing more tour products, including group-friendly restaurants and exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences. Marlene encourages future tourism professionals to find their niche, hone their skills, and not be afraid to network and meet new people.

Greg Takehara: CEO at Tourism Cares

Greg discusses the impact of the travel industry on sustainability and social-economic issues. He discusses the interest in responsible travel and carbon offsets, emphasizing the importance of meaningful travel experiences. We also discuss the importance of collaboration and partnership in addressing industry challenges, particularly in the context of sustainability and addressing social, environmental, and economic issues.

Darrin Thurman: Tourism Manager, Visit Springfield, IL

Darrin discusses the limitless opportunities within the tourism industry, emphasizing the potential for diverse career pathways and growth. He expresses excitement about the steady improvement in business post-pandemic and the renewed energy from staff and visitors in his location. Darrin describes the ABA Marketplace as a place of “heart,” emphasizing the sense of family, camaraderie, and love within the industry, and encourages young professionals to explore the incredible potential the industry has to offer.

The Importance of Building Lasting Relationships

We explore the dynamic world of travel and tourism, and explore the impact of the industry on sustainability and social-economic issues. Our amazing guests highlight the importance of building lasting relationships, the excitement of the resurgence of post-pandemic travel, and the value of learning and making connections within the industry.

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/

Feb 7, 2024

This week, the podcast is coming to you from the ABA Marketplace in Nashville, where nearly 3,000 tour and travel professionals convened to learn and network with their peers. From indigenous experiences in Alberta to the revitalization of destinations like Philadelphia and Branson, this episode is packed with valuable perspectives on collaboration, envisioning the future of travel, and the power of personal connections in the tourism industry.

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

Insights from ABA Marketplace in Nashville

At the ABA Marketplace in Nashville, we dug deep into tourism partnerships, connections, and relationships. Our industry experts discuss the importance of building connections, the impact of border closures on the industry, and the resurgence of group travel post-COVID. Guests share their experiences of being part of the travel industry in 2023, make predictions for 2024, and highlight the vibrant energy of the travel industry right now.

Vince Accardi: President at Ontario Motor Coach Association and Motor Coach Canada

Vince and I discussed the increasing interest in indigenous experiences for group travel in Canada. He also touched on the upcoming recovery of the country’s tourism industry and why connection-building is the most vital part of attending shows like ABA Marketplace.

Richard Arnold: President & Director of Fun Atlantic Tours Canada

I loved hearing Richard’s thoughts on the challenges and rewards of promoting hands-on experiences in tour itineraries for a post-COVID new normal. He emphasizes the need to be dynamic and creative when planning tours and looks ahead to new opportunities and collaborations in 2024.

Marcy Barnes: Market Development Specialist, Tourism New Brunswick

Marcy highlights what she is most excited about for the tour and travel business in 2024, including new or expanded itineraries that come into the beautiful province of New Brunswick. She also discusses why networking is the most important thing at events like ABA Marketplace and how the event allows her to connect with buyers and build collaborations with other PMOs.

Aaron Brown: Marketing & Experience Manager at Visit Cheyenne

Aaron shares his excitement for the upcoming year in the tourism industry as someone who is new to the industry, particularly focusing on the trend of slow travel and why taking time to really connect with a destination is so important for visitors. His word for ABA Marketplace is ‘amazing,’ and it’s not hard to see why!

Greg Caren: President & Chief Executive Officer at Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

Greg and I discuss the importance of authenticity in travel experiences, and he shares more about how his destination is meeting this need by highlighting their historical visitor attractions. He dives into the value of face-to-face interactions and the significance of industry events like ABA Marketplace in rebuilding the tourism economy.

Ryan Elliott: Manager – Business Development at Travel Alberta

Ryan discusses the importance of cultivating relationships and trust within the tour and travel industry, with a particular focus on the pivotal role of partnerships in driving shoulder season growth. He underscores the energy and passion crucial to the industry and highlights ABA Marketplace as a vital event for fostering connections and collaboration.

Bud Geissler: President, Group Collect and ABA Marketplace 2024 Chair

I was interested to chat with Bud about the travel industry’s adoption of technology, the shift towards cashless options for student travel, and the trend of longer and more exotic experiences for adult travelers. Bud also shares personal experiences that underline the transformative impact of travel experiences and how they shape people’s lives.

The Power of Partnerships

The enriching insights I got from travel industry leaders at ABA Marketplace underscores the transformative potential of partnerships and connections in shaping the tourism industry’s future. As the industry continues to rebound, the value of collaboration, innovation, and a shared passion for creating remarkable travel experiences emerge as guiding forces. Through a commitment to building meaningful relationships and fostering inclusive partnerships, the tourism industry is poised for a future defined by innovation, authenticity, and sustainable growth.

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/

Jan 31, 2024

Nicole Mahoney is an entrepreneur, speaker, and podcast host with a passion for business. She’s the Founder of Break the Ice Media, a PR and digital marketing agency specializing in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry, and also serves as the CEO of Travel Alliance Partners. In her weekly podcast, Destination on the Left, launched in 2016, she interviews tourism professionals from all over the globe on creativity and collaboration.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I’m talking about the significance of community in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry. Whether it’s the local community you serve, industry associations, or peer groups, being an integral part of a community is essential for making a lasting impact.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Best practices to help guide you in engaging with your community and making the most of events like TAP Dance
  • Why we should focus on serving others within the community, building authentic relationships rather than solely focusing on transactions
  • How to build an authentic and connected community by sharing experiences, successes, and setbacks
  • Why to prioritize spending time with your community, whether through attending regular meetups, participating in online discussions, or engaging in community events
  • How your community can be a pillar of strength during difficult periods

Building Meaningful Connections

Whether it’s a local community, industry associations, or peer groups, connecting with like-minded individuals can have a tremendous impact on personal and professional success. This week, I’m sharing strategies for finding and engaging with your community, including attending industry events and trade shows, which allow you to create opportunities to build relationships through shared experiences and educational sessions.

Best Practices for Community Engagement

We dig deep into some of the best practices for engaging effectively within a community — things like showing up, listening, and being relentlessly helpful are key steps for building strong connections. It is so important to prioritize relationships over transactions and embrace transparency as a way to form genuine, lasting connections within a community.

Peer Group Support

We also discuss why peer group interaction plays such a significant role in fostering connections within the travel and tourism industry. Whether through local destination marketing organizations or chambers of commerce, these formal organizations provide avenues for professionals with similar roles to connect, support, and learn from one another. By actively participating in peer groups, individuals can gain valuable insights, access educational opportunities, and form long-lasting relationships that can elevate their personal and professional growth.

Resources:

Jan 24, 2024

Kylie Kullack, the Head of Client Engagement at Struck, is a dynamic leader in the realm of brand transformation. Her extensive experience spans diverse sectors, including destination marketing, outdoor recreation, and biotechnology. Known for her strategic acumen and problem-solving prowess, Kylie consistently empowers her teams to achieve exceptional results.

Her impressive portfolio features collaborations with esteemed clients such as the Utah Office of Tourism, Snowbird, Westminster College, and Altabank. Kylie’s expertise extends across traditional and digital marketing communications, where she has seamlessly orchestrated campaigns in collaboration with various agency partners, including creative, public relations, promotion, social media, and event activation teams.

Kylie’s career boasts a diverse client roster, encompassing travel (Catalina Island, Avis Budget Group), QSR/Fast Casual (Jack in the Box), CPG (Uinta Beer, Creminelli Fine Meats), higher education, retail real estate (Sotheby’s International Realty, Coldwell Banker), and premium liquor (Johnny Walker, Bulleit, Balvenie). Outside her professional pursuits, she is an active member of Chief, a leading network of female executives revolutionizing the industry. Kylie’s true joy lies in her role as a parent, cherishing family moments and exploring the vibrant local culinary scene.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Kylie Kullack, Head of Client Engagement at Struck, about the evolving world of destination marketing. Kylie shares her expertise in helping brands like Snowbird Resort and Utah’s “Mighty Five” transform their positioning and stand out in increasingly crowded markets. We also explore the importance of collaboration and clear messaging to create memorable visitor experiences.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Kylie explains the challenges of destination marketing organizations, including limited budgets and complex stakeholder needs, and gives examples of how to overcome them
  • How Struck has worked with clients such as the Utah Office of Tourism and Palisades Tahoe to help them rebrand and reposition
  • How Struck leverages 1-star reviews from unsatisfied visitors who were not their target audience to showcase the resort to the ideal visitor
  • Why we should use a messaging funnel to tailor messages at different stages of the visitor journey, using various channels like social media and visitor centers
  • The importance of involving locals in planning and implementation to create a positive visitor experience

Transformation Work and Brand Positioning

Kylie sheds light on Struck’s focus on working with companies and brands ready to transform, and discusses the transformation work they’ve done for clients such as the Utah Office of Tourism, Snowbird, Sundance, Solitude, and Palisades Tahoe. We dig into the rebranding process, defining a destination’s core positioning and Kylie shares details of the campaign she worked on for the Snowbird Resort and how they used negative feedback to define and appeal to the destination’s ideal audience.

Breaking Through the Crowded Marketplace

On the show, we also explore how tourism brands can break through the crowded marketplace to stand out. Kylie discusses the strategy of dispersing visitation to national parks to avoid overwhelming them and to encourage visitors to explore local state parks and other attractions along the way.

Destination marketing is evolving, and DMOs now need to expand beyond simply attracting visitors to also managing the destination message, involving locals, and addressing various challenges such as public affairs, infrastructure, sustainability, and resident sentiment.

Branded Experiential Design and Collaboration

Kylie and I also talk about the importance of branded spaces and experiential design in reflecting a destination’s values for both visitors and employees. Kylie talks about the importance of collaboration among agency partners and the marketing team, particularly when it comes to clarity of goals and key messages.

Resources:

Jan 17, 2024

Dana is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of World Savvy, a national education nonprofit working to educate and engage youth as responsible global citizens. World Savvy supports change agents in K-12 education to create more inclusive, adaptive schools that ensure all young people can develop the skills and dispositions needed to thrive in a more diverse, interconnected world. World Savvy programs provide support at three critical levels to deeply integrate global competence into teaching, learning, and culture: student engagement, teacher capacity, and school and district leadership support. Since 2002, she has led the organization through significant national expansion, reaching over 800,000 students and nearly 7,000 teachers across 45 US states and 32 countries from offices in Minneapolis, San Francisco, and New York.

Dana is an Ashoka Fellow and was named one of The New Leaders Council’s 40 under 40 Progressive American Leaders and Women We Admire’s Top 50 Women Leaders of Minnesota for 2022. She also won the Tides Foundations Jane Bagley Lehman Award for excellence in public advocacy in 2014. She is a frequent speaker on global education and social entrepreneurship at high-profile convenings nationally and internationally, and World Savvy’s work has been featured on PBS, The New York Times, Edutopia, and a range of local and national media outlets covering education and innovation.

Kate Berseth is the Executive Vice President North America for EF Education First. As EVP, Kate oversees product innovation and strategic partnership development for EF’s educational travel products. As EF’s futurist-in-residence, Kate is primarily responsible for understanding evolutionary and revolutionary trends in the education space and making recommendations for how EF should adjust its operation to respond to these trends while bringing continual improvement to its product offerings. She also identifies, establishes, and maintains EF’s strategic relationships with a variety of stakeholders in the education, travel, and corporate landscapes.

Prior to joining EF in 2000, Kate worked in fundraising, and nonprofit and political consulting. She served in a variety of capacities for several national political campaigns before co-founding ROI Solutions, a database management services provider for progressive nonprofit organizations. During her time at EF, Kate has been instrumental in securing accreditations from the country’s most prestigious academic organizations, making EF the first fully accredited educational travel company in the United States. She has also managed the recent launches of two marquee projects for EF—the Global Student Leaders Summit series, which offers students and teachers experiential travel opportunities focused on 21st-century skills development, as well as weShare, an online learning tool that complements that student travel experience.”

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Kate and Dana to explore the transformative power of travel in shaping global perspectives and promoting global citizenship. Join us as Dana and Kate share their insights on K-12 educational travel experiences, and the impactful work being done in the travel and education industry. Find out more about how EF Tours is creating hands-on learning opportunities for students, and how World Savvy is embedding global competence in K-12 education.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How EF Tours’ approach to educational travel has helped young people to foster global competence and cultural understanding
  • Why the collaboration between World Savvy and EF Tours helps students to develop 21st-century skills and global perspectives
  • Moments when educational travel experiences have led to a tangible impact within local communities, at home and abroad?
  • How travel experiences help build soft skills
  • How schools can integrate educational travel experiences into their curriculum and institutional programs to create a lasting and impactful learning environment for students

The Importance of Hands-On Learning

Dana and Kate discuss the significant role that educational travel plays in expanding students’ perspectives. Through immersive experiences in different countries and cultures, students gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. By stepping outside of their local environments, students are exposed to new ways of thinking, problem-solving, and adapting to unfamiliar situations. This hands-on learning approach broadens their worldview and equips them with essential skills for navigating an increasingly interconnected global society.

Building 21st-Century Skills

Our conversation highlights the evolution of global competence in K-12 education, with a focus on equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in a globalized world. Dana discusses World Savvy’s dedication to promoting global competence through engaging students, training teachers, and working with school leadership to integrate global citizenship into the learning experience. This emphasis on 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, communication, and cultural proficiency, is essential for preparing students to become global citizens and empathetic leaders in their future endeavors.

Creating Meaningful Partnerships

Kate gives her insights into EF Tours’ mission to open the world through education by offering transformative travel experiences for students. EF’s collaboration with educational leaders like Dana emphasizes the importance of creating institutional programs in schools that go beyond traditional trips and become an integral part of the curriculum.

Resources:

Jan 10, 2024

Nicole Mahoney is an entrepreneur, speaker, and podcast host with a passion for business. She’s the Founder of Break the Ice Media, a PR and digital marketing agency specializing in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry, and also serves as the CEO of Travel Alliance Partners. In her weekly podcast, Destination on the Left, launched in 2016, she interviews tourism professionals from all over the globe on creativity and collaboration.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I share how my company fosters meaningful connections among our team members, clients, and industry partners. I outline the four key ingredients for creating a well-connected and productive workplace, including company culture, meetings with purpose, continuous mentoring, and celebrations. This episode is all about helping you strengthen connections within your organization.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Why any healthy company culture includes a defined purpose and a shared vision and values
  • Why Break the Ice Media values meetings with purpose, which have a regular cadence and specific goals
  • The three most valuable meeting types Break the Ice Media uses: status meetings, one-on-one meetings, and leadership team meetings, and how we structure them
  • How we facilitate coaching and mentoring that leads to better connections — even with a remote team
  • Why it’s so important to inspire celebration of each other and have fun together, and how to do this intentionally

Building a Strong Company Culture

On the show, I emphasize the crucial role of company culture in creating connections within a team, whether you’re together in person or virtually. I outline the key elements of a strong company culture, including a clearly defined purpose, vision for the future, and core values.

It is essential to define why the business exists and ensure this purpose is shared and understood by everyone in the company. Establishing a clear vision for the future helps provide a roadmap for the team, guiding decision-making and offering clarity during times of uncertainty. I also share why clearly defined core values serve as a compass, ensuring alignment among team members and driving decision-making processes.

Continuous Coaching and Mentoring

We also dig into the importance of continuous coaching and mentoring in strengthening team connections. I discuss various ways to do this, such as weekly office hours, side coaching for the leadership team, growth charts, lunch and learns, and midweek check-ins.

These initiatives that we’ve put in place serve to provide ongoing support, sharing of knowledge, and skill development opportunities. By investing in coaching and mentoring, Break the Ice Media, and other organizations empower teams to grow, thrive, and build stronger connections with each other.

Resources:

Dec 20, 2023

This week, the show is coming from the NTA Travel Exchange in Shreveport, LA, where more than 800 tour & travel professionals convened to do business, learn, and network. There have been several years of uncertainty and change in the travel industry, but from speaking to these experienced leaders, it looks as though there are positive times ahead. In these conversations, we dig into the trends they’re seeing in the tour & travel business, and my guests share how important collaboration is to their destination’s success.

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

Insights from The National Tour Associations Travel Exchange

The NTA Travel Exchange is all about positive energy, partnership, and collaboration and it’s an event that gives travel experts space to explore new opportunities for their locations. I love hearing these fascinating thoughts from extraordinary leaders in the travel niche. I know you’ll enjoy their insights on why events like the NTA Travel Exchange make them better tourism professionals.

Kristy Durso of Incredible Memories Travel

Kristy highlights the significance of addressing accessibility challenges in travel, focusing on service dog laws as a critical issue. She emphasizes that collaboration, partnership, and communication are key for successful, accessible travel, and in that same vein, her word to describe the NTA Travel Exchange is “essential”.

Lisa Simon of International Inbound Travel Association

Lisa also talks about the importance of partnerships and collaboration in the travel industry for growing tourism and improving travel products for returning European visitors. She discusses examples of incorporating outdoor products and including national and state parks and their indigenous residents in travel packages. Lastly, she describes the travel industry as fun and rewarding for future professionals, emphasizing the positive energy at events like NTA Travel Exchange.

Lori Sorrentino, Travel Writer and Owner of TravelMad.com

Lori discusses the rise of multi-generational and slow travel, the heightened awareness of travel impacts, and a love for small rural destinations. We talk about the importance of understanding the diverse reasons why people travel and the significance of connecting with various businesses and groups in the industry. Lori also shares insights on the industry’s ongoing evolution, underscoring the limitless potential for growth and experiences in the tourism profession.

Michael Dillinger of National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations – USA

In my chat with Michael, we dug into the challenges of being a tour guide and the lack of recognition for their role. He and I discussed the magic of the tourism industry and recent trends in the tour and travel business, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing shortages, and the use of technology, specifically AI, in the tourism industry. He stresses the importance of staying updated and connected with the industry and the role of events like the NTA Travel Exchange conference in achieving this.

Ron Metz of GoWay Travel

One of the things that comes up repeatedly at these events is the importance of trust and collaboration in the tourism industry, noting that successful trips involve multiple travel components and people. He describes the industry as life-changing, allowing him to meet and work with individuals worldwide and explore different countries. Ron shares personal experiences of presenting travel opportunities and finding fulfillment in helping others experience the world. He encourages potential future tourism professionals to pursue a career in the industry, highlighting the limitless potential for growth and experiences.

Shannon Larsen of Ed-Ventures

Shannon discusses current trends in the tour and travel industry, highlighting a shift towards experiential travel, smaller group bookings, and the demand for hands-on experiences, such as wine tastings and cultural interactions, as well as the desire for leisurely, immersive itineraries. She and I reflect on why attending in-person events is so valuable in terms of networking, problem-solving, and collaboration with industry peers. When I asked Shannon to describe the NTA Travel Exchange in a word, Shannon chose “friendship” to represent her strong relationships and collaborations in the industry.

Ted Bravos of International Tour Management Institute

Ted shares his journey into the travel industry and discusses the evolution of the tourism industry, mentioning the benefits of group travel in enhancing people’s overall experience of new locations. He mentions his love for the freedom and personal connections that come with the profession and highlights the importance of participating in industry events like the NTA Travel Exchange for networking and industry education.

Positive Steps into the Future

I love discussing the ever-evolving landscape of the tourism industry with the dedicated travel professionals that we have on the show. In the episode we’re exploring the significance of shared experiences in group travel, the growing popularity of slow travel, and the vital role of collaboration and partnerships in creating meaningful and accessible travel experiences. From insights into industry trends and the impact of technology to personal anecdotes of professional growth and fulfillment, our guests have shed light on the transformative nature of the tourism profession and I know you’ll enjoy hearing their wisdom.

Dec 13, 2023

For this first episode in a special two-part series from the National Tour Associations Travel Exchange, I visited the National Tour Associations Travel Exchange in Shreveport, Louisiana and spoke with several experts in the travel and tourism industry. My guests shared their insights into the travel industry, looking at the trends, challenges, and whether events like NTA Travel Exchange make you a better tourism professional. The wisdom each of these leaders shared is certain to be invaluable for travel industry professionals, both experienced and brand new.

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

Insights from The National Tour Associations Travel Exchange

The National Tour Associations Travel Exchange is an incredible event that allows experts in group travel to exchange ideas about the trends in the potential opportunities for group tour operators into 2024. It was my honor to speak to some of the extraordinary guests at the travel exchange to get their thoughts on how they view partnerships and what they would say to the future generation of tour and travel professionals.

Carylann Assante: CEO Student Youth Travel Association

Carylann describes some trends that she’s seeing in the tour and travel business right now, including shorter lead times and a preference for less crowded itineraries allowing for more time for visitors to explore the different spaces, and giving them flexibility should things change. She also highlights restaurant and attraction preferences for smaller groups, and why they’re creating groups within groups when they have large numbers.

Catherine Prather: President National Tour Association

Catherine highlights the increasing demand for meaningful travel experiences that support local communities and the environment. She notes that smaller travel group trends due to COVID are starting to level off, with some groups returning to pre-COVID sizes. Catherine emphasizes the NTA’s focus on peer-to-peer networking and collaboration, offering educational sessions and an open buyer floor to help members become better professionals in the travel industry.

Dawnielle Tehama: Executive Director Willamette Valley Visitors Association

Dawnielle describes the NTA Travel Exchange as an opportunistic event, highlighting the remarkable opportunities it presents for learning and collaboration within the travel industry. She discusses the challenges arising from the slow travel trend and its impact on rural communities, emphasizing the importance of adjusting to this new paradigm. Dawnielle emphasizes the unifying force of tourism, promoting unity and shared experiences among travelers.

Jerry Varner: Owner Making Memories Tours

Jerry emphasizes the significance of face-to-face interaction and personal relationships in the tour and travel industry, advocating for an open mind and dreaming about potential opportunities. He describes the tourism industry as not “normal,” highlighting the kind and helpful nature of professionals in the field. Jerry also highlights the spirit of inclusivity and family at NTA, providing a setting for high-quality tour operators to interact and connect.

John Sutherland: Director of Community Impact Tourism Cares

John talks about the significance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the travel industry. We dig into the power of collaboration and partnerships in addressing sustainability and creating meaningful, immersive travel experiences. John also discusses the valuable connections, education, and conversations that events like the NTA Travel Exchange provide, fostering partnerships and collaborations that allow for growth.

Juan Pablo Suarez: Travel Trade Manager Ottawa Tourism

Juan Pablo and I discuss the importance of face-to-face interactions and personal relationships in the tour and travel industry, emphasizing the critical role of partnerships and collaboration for success. I love that he advises keeping an open mind and dreaming about potential opportunities in the industry, and describes the tourism industry as unconventional, highlighting the kind and helpful nature of professionals in the field.

Julie Payne: Group Sales Consultant The Hershey Company

Julie shares the importance of networking and creating relationships in the tourism industry during events and appointments with tour operators. She highlights the significance of partnerships and collaboration, likening them to friendships with both parties working toward the common objective of driving more visitors to a destination. Julie also discusses the impact of the global pause on the tourism industry and underscores the importance of trust and reputation in the field.

Karen DiGiacomo: Tour & Travel Sales Manager Daytona Beach Area CVB

Karen and I dig into the importance of collaboration and partnerships in the tourism industry and she describes the NTA Travel Exchange as an invaluable platform for industry professionals to work together toward a common goal. Karen discusses the evolution of the tour and travel industry, particularly how smaller group sizes are becoming more prevalent due to changing travel preferences and the impact of COVID-19.

Moving Forward into 2024

In this episode, we uncover valuable insights from industry experts, from the evolving trends in group travel to the power of collaboration and partnerships. Our guests shed light on the industry’s resilience, adaptability, and share their passion for delivering unparalleled travel experiences. As the industry continues to navigate the impacts of global events, the spirit of inclusivity, innovation, and community has emerged as a driving force behind its success. We hear how the connections made at events like the NTA Travel Exchange serve as catalysts for growth, learning, and the creation of memorable experiences that unite travelers and destinations.

Dec 6, 2023

John Lyotier is CEO and Co-Founder of TravelAI, an UpNext company. TravelAI is an applied AI company operating in the field of travel. Through a network of interconnected brands, the company connects high-intent travelers to the largest travel websites in the world and over 10 million properties. TravelAI’s proprietary big data marketing engine has facilitated more than $1.5B in gross booking value and 6M nights booked since 2016.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with John Lyotier all about what led him from a tech start-up into the travel space. We discuss why businesses need to prioritize personalizing their approaches and messaging to meet the needs of individual consumers. John shares why he believes in the power of collaboration in the travel industry and why by aligning objectives and revenue models, businesses can optimize efficiency and create shared success.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How John’s company has used their agility to stand out, be “remarkable with a purpose,” and reverse engineer your goals
  • TravelAI’s approach to personalization and targeting to reach individual consumers, with brands that appeal to, for example, pickleball players or people who want to rent a cabin in a specific area
  • How technology can be infused with humanity to create a personalized experience for travelers
  • Why the power of your network grows with each organization you have in that network
  • How digital marketing has shifted from being an art to becoming a science in 2023, and the implications of this shift

Personalization in the Travel Industry

AI technology has been the hot topic of 2023, and the travel industry is no exception. John Lyotier shares his extensive experience and expertise and gives valuable insights into the power of AI in providing personalized experiences and tailored marketing efforts to attract individual consumers.

One of the key challenges the travel industry faces is the overwhelming amount of choices available to consumers. John emphasizes the need to move from a web of 5 to a web of 500, and eventually, a web of 5,000, to achieve true personalization and targeting. By segmenting and personalizing data, businesses can understand individual consumer personas and craft marketing messages that speak directly to their desires and preferences.

Balancing Technology and Humanity to Create Lasting Memories

Technology plays a vital role in personalization, and John reminds us that it shouldn’t overshadow the importance of human connection and emotions. He shares why he believes in infusing technology with humanity, as it is the meshing of both of these things that truly creates lasting memories and immersive experiences.

Collaborative Strategies for Success

We discuss why working together and forming partnerships is essential for achieving success in a crowded marketplace. Just as a bundle of sticks is stronger together, collective efforts and strong partnerships lead to greater outcomes.

John highlights the importance of aligning with partners’ objectives to allow for shared success and mutual growth. Whether it’s vacation cottages, discount travel, or unique niche audiences, like pickleball players, the future of travel lies in customization, collaboration, and the creation of unforgettable memories.

Resources:

Nov 29, 2023

Dr. Rebecca Swift is the Global Head of Creative Insights at iStock and Getty Images, where she leads the team responsible for analyzing trends and developing research in visual communications. Rebecca joined the company over 20 years ago as one of the founding members of the team that introduced visual research methodology to the industry. Rebecca leads global research projects investigating the future of visual communications and works with a wide variety of brands in industries ranging from non-profit to fashion. She has presented her findings all over the world.

Rebecca has been recognized as one of AdAges 20 Women to Watch and was Campaign magazine’s Female Frontier honoree. She was also awarded the Most Influential Leader in UK Visual Media in 2020. Rebecca has a PhD in Photography.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Rebecca about generative AI and how it can help you create new ideas, plan visual storytelling content, and find fresh perspectives. We also explore how destination marketers can use it and why travel is one industry that should move with caution when thinking about AI generative imagery.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Benefits of using generative AI in improving creativity and visual storytelling
  • Why travel is one industry that should move with caution when thinking about AI generative imagery
  • How Getty Images address legal and ethical concerns in their use of AI-generated imagery
  • The need for government regulation of AI to address copyright and trademark concerns
  • How tools like generative AI can spark new ideas, fuel your artistic endeavors, and help you plan visual storytelling content

Unlocking Creativity with Endless Possibilities

In the ever-evolving technological landscape, the rise in popularity of artificial intelligence (AI) has hugely impacted creative industries, including that of visual storytelling. Rebecca joins us on the podcast to explore generative AI and how we can apply it to images and photography.

Generative AI goes way beyond traditional AI by not just analyzing existing content but also creating new and unique images that help tell a story. Rebecca explains how, by harnessing the power of generative AI, photographers and creatives can find fresh perspectives and ignite their creativity to tell compelling visual stories.

Legal and Ethical Considerations in AI-Generated Content

Rebecca explains that while generative AI opens up many possibilities, it’s important to carefully navigate legal and ethical terrain. She highlights why copyright and trademark concerns need to be addressed, especially when it comes to using famous places, landmarks, or people in AI-generated content. Rebecca also emphasizes the commitment of Getty Images to protect the rights of creators and ensure they have proper permission for training models using AI content.

The Impact of AI on Visual Industries

We dig into the influence of AI on the visual and creative industries, such as photography and content writing. Although AI has transformed the way we capture, edit, and share images and has revolutionized the photography ecosystem, we also need to understand its limitations and be aware of potential flaws, particularly as destination marketers.

Resources:

Nov 22, 2023

What if you could test travel compatibility… BEFORE you take a trip? FLIGHT RISK™ is a new party game and the ultimate test of travel compatibility for friends or strangers! Bree Nidds has nearly ten years of experience working in destination organizations and is embarking on a new journey!

Bree is the Owner and Creator of FLIGHT RISK GAME LLC, a game publishing company established in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, producing travel-themed game products.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Bree about why she decided to follow her dream of starting her own business and how she took inspiration from her own travels and her day job in the DMO in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Bree shares how she came up with the Flight Risk game idea and proved her concept. We also discuss Bree’s advice for others thinking about starting a side gig and her entrepreneurial journey.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How Bree’s disappointment with a travel experience turned into a concept for her travel matchmaking game
  • The research Bree did before creating her tabletop game for social connection
  • The importance of creating a business plan and collaborating with various agencies and resources
  • The vulnerability and openness required in entrepreneurship, particularly concerning receiving and implementing feedback
  • How Bree’s experience in destination marketing has influenced her approach to entrepreneurship

From Travel Disappointment to Social Connection

Bree shares more about her disappointing travel experience and how she turned it into the idea for the Flight Risk game. She discusses the initial research stages of the game and how she crafted scenarios onto index cards and tested them at friend gatherings, realizing the potential for a business idea. Her unique concept allows people to connect more deeply and sparks conversations among travelers and friends.

As someone with a background in destination marketing, Bree shares how her experience influenced her approach to entrepreneurship. She highlights the importance of creating connections and experiences through her product, drawing on her knowledge of crafting memorable travel experiences for travelers as an experienced destination marketer.

Research, Planning, and Collaboration

Bree emphasizes the importance of creating a business plan to ensure your idea not only sparks joy in you but is economically viable, and we discuss the vulnerability and openness required in entrepreneurship, particularly when it comes to receiving and implementing feedback.

On the show, Bree shares the challenges and surprises she encountered while transitioning from the idea stage to launching her game. Including how she secured financing for her project through a Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator program and the Kickstarter platform. We also discuss Bree’s top tips for others considering starting a side gig and her entrepreneurial journey.

Resources:

Nov 15, 2023

Nicole Mahoney is an entrepreneur, speaker, and podcast host with a passion for business. She’s the Founder of Break the Ice Media, a PR and digital marketing agency specializing in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry, and also serves as the CEO of Travel Alliance Partners. In her weekly podcast, Destination on the Left, launched in 2016, she interviews tourism professionals from all over the globe on creativity and collaboration.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I explore topics related to creativity and collaboration in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry. I share more about my 3C framework for collaboration, which is based on my extensive research that proves organizations that collaborate benefit from fresh, innovative ideas, improved brand reputation, operational efficiencies, and increased trust.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • More about inspired collaborations, including the Ohio Birding Collaborative and the Poconos Mountains Community Caring Project, and how they successfully navigated their partnerships
  • My personal experience of collaboration in the construction of a baseball stadium in my very first job in the travel and tourism sector
  • Why collaboration in our industry allows for creative problem-solving and operational efficiency
  • Why cathedral thinking has a huge impact on how we approach collaboration
  • The three collaborator types and how each can work together
  • How the 3C framework for world-changing collaborations works and the importance of evaluating long-term impacts

Working Together as Collaborators

We’re digging into the world of collaboration and its impact on the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry. Drawing on my own experiences and research, I explore the three types of collaborators: promoters, doubters, and protectors. I discuss why successful collaborations require effective communication, commonality of goals, and a commitment to seeing the partnership through difficulties and obstacles.

I genuinely believe that coopetition, as I like to call it, can create fresh perspectives and lead to powerful influences within the industry. By looking back at examples from the distant past, such as Thomas Cook’s collaboration with a railway company in the 19th century, and more recent ones from my own career and those shared by guests on this podcast, I highlight how collaboration can have a lasting impact on the tourism industry.

Long Term Planning

I also want to stress the importance of committing to long-term projects and embracing the concept of “cathedral thinking,” where a project may not be completed within one’s lifetime but still aims to change the paradigm of the industry.

Collaboration is a catalyst for innovation and growth in the travel industry. By fostering effective communication, finding common goals, and committing to long-term projects, industry professionals can create collaborations that leave a lasting impact on the industry. To learn more about collaboration and its role in the travel industry, check out the latest podcast episode hosted by Nicole Mahoney.

Resources:

Nov 8, 2023

Andy Buyting is a leader in thought leadership and content marketing. His integrated content strategy has served both himself and his clients exceedingly well.

Andy’s thought leadership journey started when he published his first business book in 2007 and started publishing his first magazines in 2009. Since then, he has leveraged his integrated approach to print, digital, and interactive marketing strategies to establish himself as a thought leader in content marketing and brand positioning. Andy’s second book, How to Win Clients & Influence People, is now in its second edition and is an International Bestseller on Amazon. In 2021, Andy co-authored Double Sales/ Zero Salespeople: Optimize Your Sales and Marketing Into One Business Development Strategy That Works!

Through Tulip Media Group, his team helps to fuel revenue growth for their client partners through effective marketing that works.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Andy Buyting all about how he grew his business and why rethinking how the sales process works has led to new opportunities. He explains why meeting your target audience where they are is a more strategic, efficient, and profitable approach than cold outreach.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Key actions that Andy believes truly “pay the bills” in digital marketing
  • Why it’s so important to genuinely understand the customer’s needs and their online search behavior to drive website conversions
  • How understanding the mindset of your audience impacts sales
  • Why Andy’s company initially focused on customized magazines and how it impacted their marketing strategy
  • How effective marketing automation and website optimization improves a business’s sales process

Online Search Behavior

Andy highlights the significance of strategic marketing partnership programs in driving business growth. He also emphasizes the importance of deeply understanding the customer and their online search behavior and gives examples of people using digital platforms like YouTube to search for travel-related content. Through their company’s themed magazines, which are distributed across North America, Andy and his team have revolutionized content marketing by offering clients a unique way to connect with their target audience.

The magazines serve as a bridge between businesses and their customers, providing valuable insights, information, and inspiration. By leveraging strategic marketing partnership programs and delivering high-quality content, businesses can effectively position themselves as thought leaders and attract right-fit customers to their destination.

Marketing Automation

We also discuss the importance of effective marketing automation, and Andy shares why, in today’s digital landscape, it’s so important for businesses to focus on optimizing their websites for conversions rather than just blindly chasing increased traffic. He advocates for a more strategic approach where marketing efforts are geared towards attracting qualified leads and nurturing them through the sales funnel using automated processes.

By leveraging marketing automation effectively, businesses can streamline their marketing efforts, increase the effectiveness of their lead generation, and ultimately drive more sales.

Metrics in Digital Marketing

While many marketers place a heavy emphasis on website traffic and social media engagement, Andy challenges the commonly held belief this is the best approach for DMOs to take. Instead of concentrating on these vanity metrics, he says marketers need to keep an eye on the number of interested prospects who actually take action, such as filling out a contact form or booking a meeting.

By shifting the focus to generating qualified leads and cultivating meaningful relationships, you’re aligning marketing efforts with tangible business outcomes.

Resources:

Nov 1, 2023

Since joining the New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA) as President & CEO in September of 2018, Bob has focused on NYSTIA’s programming, marketing & data analytics, advocacy efforts, and destination stewardship strategies. He has enhanced member communications and collaborative initiatives, facilitated rebranding, and the restatement of vision and purpose for the organization. He worked hand-in-hand with tourism industry members across the state and leadership in Washington, DC, and Albany to coordinate response and recovery efforts during and following the pandemic. Post-pandemic initiatives include the creation of member task force teams on sustainability, workforce development, and higher education.

Today, the New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA) is a nonprofit, member-driven organization at the vanguard of tourism destination stewardship and long-term strategic planning.

Tourism is not a goal; it is a means to an end, states Bob. Tourism is a tool to power economic growth, job creation, small business success, community revitalization, increased local and state tax revenues, improved standard of living and quality of life, and pride of place. NYSTIAs membership includes the leadership of New York State County Tourism Promotion Agencies (TPAs), major urban and remote/rural Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), key executives from major attractions (e.g., LEGOLAND NY), museums (e.g., Baseball Hall of Fame, Corning Museum of Glass, Strong Museum of Play), resort hotels and major marketing firms from across the U.S and Canada.

Born in Bayshore, Long Island, Bob Provost LOVES NY, vacationing everywhere from Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands to New York City, Lake Placid to Corning, with stops everywhere in between. He resides with his wife, Pam, just outside Albany, NY, on a rural property in Rensselaer County.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Bob Provost, who shares why he sees the travel and tourism industry as a stimulant for change. We discuss transformational development, stewardship, and the importance of long-term strategic thinking for DMOs. Bob also shares how the New York State Tourism Industry Association is facilitating the discussion around best practices in DEI.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How creating a bundle of attractions and destinations helped the New York State Tourism Industry Association’s recovery and resurgence
  • Defining leadership versus management and the importance of both qualities for organizational success
  • The importance of long-term strategic thinking and vision as a DMO
  • How the New York State Tourism Industry Association utilizes tourism as a tool to achieve economic growth, job creation, and community revitalization
  • Outcomes and best practices discussed during the panel on Diversity in Action

Transformational Development

In our conversation Bob emphasizes the role of tourism as a catalyst for change, transforming stagnant markets and revitalizing communities. He describes why their focus is not just on short-term goals but also on long-term strategic thinking, envisioning a future state and working collaboratively to achieve it. Through various projects such as building arenas, developing destination marketing organizations, and creating vibrant tourism assets like the National Museum of Play, communities experience lasting positive impact.

Collaboration is at the heart of Bob Provost’s approach and he describes how by bringing together diverse industry professionals, sharing expertise, and working towards a common vision, the association has been successful in implementing initiatives that have had a positive effect on the community as a whole.

Stewardship and Long-Term Thinking

We discuss the significance of stewardship in destination management and why DMOs have a . responsibility to preserve and enhance both natural and cultural resources, ensuring their sustainable use for future generations. Bob discusses the domino effect, and encourages leaders to exercise vision and work towards shared goals, aligning the interests of all stakeholders.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Recognizing the importance of diversity within the tourism industry, the New York State Tourism Industry Association’s focus has shifted to diversifying supply chains, reaching out to different demographic groups, and promoting diversity within communities and organizations. Bob discusses the well-received panel on Diversity in Action and describes how the association is facilitating the discussion, highlighting positive outcomes and signposting to best practices in DEI.

Resources:

Oct 25, 2023

Jackie Dunfee is a seasoned marketing and brand executive with over a decade of experience crafting groundbreaking marketing strategies for brands. Jackie believes in the transformative power of exploring new cultures and is passionate about elevating unique experiences near and far. As a Client Partner, Travel at VDX.tv, Jackie spearheads strategic partnerships with destinations, attractions, and parks, developing solutions to turbocharge engagement and drive visitation. Jackie was previously the Director of Marketing at Tourism Australia in North America. Jackie has lived in Italy and Australia, experienced over 30 countries across the globe, and is excitedly heading to Japan next.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Jackie about how to create video-driven experiences within your marketing to stand out from the crowd. Jackie also shares her experiences working with clients to create campaigns that fit all parts of the funnel.

 

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The importance of making potential travelers immediately associate a certain destination with the visuals they see, creating a direct association
  • Why engaging experiences, such as interactive mapping and showcasing specific itineraries, are crucial in trip planning
  • Why providing information at different stages of the consumer travel journey is crucial
  • Jackie shares how exploring “coopetition” can help people work together for a common goal
  • The need for authentic storytelling to drive attention and create a deeper connection with the destination, showcasing what is unique

Differentiating Your Destination

From her experience in the travel industry, particularly in working with clients, CVVs, DMOs, ski destinations, and resort destinations, Jackie shares invaluable insights about how to effectively market a destination. She emphasizes the importance of differentiation and creating a direct association for potential travelers when promoting a destination by showcasing visual content that resonates with prospective visitors, such as 360-degree videos, allowing viewers to explore the inside of a cruise ship or a cruise room.

Jackie discusses why capturing attention and making a lasting impact in your destination marketing is essential. She digs into how to create engaging experiences and incorporate partner KPIs in video-driven campaigns, and why it’s invaluable for travel brands looking to make a powerful impression on their target audiences.

The Power of Partnership

Jackie emphasizes the power of collaboration and partnerships in the travel industry. She shares how she finds points of connection and looks for win-win situations where each partner gets what they need. She mentions the concept of “coopetition,” where competitors work together for a common goal, and how her company utilizes creative capabilities and data analysis to show relevant content to prospective visitors.

This collaborative approach allows them to access platforms like Pluto TV and Samsung and leverage data partnerships to improve data quality. Jackie’s perspective on collaboration in the travel industry showcases the importance of working together to achieve shared goals and deliver impactful experiences to travelers.

The Personalized Experience

Throughout the episode, Jackie stresses the importance of providing information at all stages of the consumer travel journey. Travelers constantly seek more information and want to feel confident in their choices. Jackie’s team’s commitment to delivering personalized experiences is so important in telling a destination story that resonates.

Resources:

I am so excited to announce that my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed, has been released! Help me celebrate this milestone and expand your knowledge about collaboration. Find out more information here: nicolemahoney.com

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/

Oct 18, 2023

Born and raised in Michigan, Kevney Dugan grew up playing any sport he could make time for. In the long run, trail running, mountain biking, and fly fishing were the sports that stuck. Fly fishing was the one that offered a working opportunity out of college and took him to Livingston, Montana; San Jose, California; Jackson, Wyoming; and eventually to Bend. Having the opportunity to be the President/CEO of Visit Bend is a dream come true. Rarely does one have the opportunity to take their passions and provide them on such a grand stage to such a wonderful community.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Kevney Dugan and discuss how Visit Bend is leveraging influencer marketing to help build awareness and encourage visitation during off-peak times. We also dig into how his team balances the visitors’ needs with those of residents by concentrating on workforce development and prioritizing sustainability.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Kevney’s unconventional path into destination marketing
  • How Visit Bend has used influencer marketing and why it works so well for them
  • Why they’ve honed their marketing to concentrate on fall, winter, and spring as a great time to visit Bend
  • The importance of bringing the community on board when creating a marketing and PR strategy
  • How Visit Bend is working hard to solve the workforce issue and help young people see travel and tourism as a viable career path
  • Why they created the Bend Sustainability Fund, projects it contributes to, including riverbank restoration and creating new trails, and why it will change the future of the destination

How Visit Bend is telling the Authentic Story of their Destination

Kevney joins us on the podcast to discuss the evolving landscape of consumer engagement and the power of trusted voices in marketing. We discuss why today’s consumers are drawn to information from sources they trust, which means that strategies like influencer marketing are an important consideration for DMOs.

He highlights that collaborating with influencers helps his team share the destination with target demographics. These influencers, using their authentic voices, share their experiences in Bend, leading to significant engagement and even influencing travel decisions based on their experiences.

Creativity in the Face of Challenges

Our discussion sheds light on the importance of adaptability and creative problem-solving, in the wake of unprecedented challenges like those the travel industry faced in 2020. Kevney shares how challenges often spur creativity and innovation, and why, instead of dwelling on the negatives during tough times, it’s crucial to use such moments as learning opportunities, aiming to emerge stronger.

Workforce Development

We also talk about how Visit Bend is engaging middle school and high school-age students and helping them to think about travel and hospitality as a viable career path. He discusses how they hope it’s going to help with the labor shortages they’re currently seeing. Kevney emphasizes that workforce development is all about planting that seed early on and that this industry has some amazing opportunities.

Resources:

I am so excited to announce that my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed, has been released! Help me celebrate this milestone and expand your knowledge about collaboration. Find out more information here: nicolemahoney.com

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/

Oct 11, 2023

Episode 351:

Mike Skladony serves as the general manager of the consumer services team at Semcasting. He oversees all travel, entertainment, tourism, higher education, and nonprofit clients. Mike’s team of audience developers, account managers, and campaign managers work with clients hand in hand to develop audience solutions and win digital campaign strategies. Mike started his career with Semcasting in 2012, straight out of college and right into a role as Semcasting’s first digital account executive.

 

On this episode of Destination on the Left, Mike Skladony and I discuss how to apply traditional advertising approaches to the digital landscape. We dig into the importance of first-party data and why it plays an important role in both marketing strategy and results. Mike also elaborates on why collaboration and data sharing are essential for successful marketing campaigns.

 

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The specific challenges in measuring the effectiveness and ROI of programmatic advertising
  • How we can apply traditional marketing strategies to the digital landscape
  • Why collaboration and data sharing between companies enhances marketing campaigns
  • How merging traditional and digital marketing methods helps achieve affordability for consumers
  • Effective strategies for optimizing media spend and allocating resources in advertising campaigns

How Programmatic Advertising Works

Mike and I discuss how programmatic advertising can be a powerful tool for effectively targeting a specific audience and driving engagement. He highlights the importance of analyzing both behavioral and deterministic characteristics of the target audience to create highly targeted campaigns. By combining data from various sources, including mobile location history and offline deterministic data, advertisers can identify the right audience and deliver personalized ads.

Although Mike cautions that while programmatic advertising may not always directly result in immediate conversions or sales, it plays a significant role in building brand awareness and influencing buying decisions.

Data Sharing for Better Outcomes

During our conversation, we also dived into collaboration and data sharing between companies and how it can improve marketing campaigns by providing a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the target audience.

When different companies come together and share their first-party data, it allows for a deeper level of insights and segmentation, leading to more precise targeting and messaging. By combining data from various sources, marketers can gain a holistic view of consumer behaviors and preferences, enabling them to create more personalized and effective campaigns.

Sharing data can help optimize media spend by identifying overlap and avoiding duplication in targeting efforts. As we almost always find when talking to our guests on the podcast, we heard from Mike that collaboration and data sharing foster a collaborative ecosystem where companies can leverage each other’s strengths and resources to achieve better marketing outcomes.

Resources:

 

I am so excited to announce that my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed, has been released! Help me celebrate this milestone and expand your knowledge about collaboration. Find out more information here: nicolemahoney.com

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/

Oct 4, 2023

Episode 350:

Jennifer Barnwell is President of Curator Hotel & Resort Collection. Launched in November 2020, Curator provides lifestyle hotels the power to compete together while allowing its members the freedom to retain what makes their hotels unique.

Before moving over to Curator, Barnwell was Senior Vice President of Asset Management of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, a leading real estate investment trust, which was formed and went public in late 2009. She oversaw hotels on the West Coast in San Francisco and Los Angeles and had a team of three Asset Managers reporting to her. Prior to joining Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, Barnwell was Senior Vice President of Peninsula Real Estate LLC, a private real estate investment fund based in New York. While at Peninsula Real Estate LLC, she was involved in all aspects of the fund, including formation, acquisitions, and asset management. Previously, Barnwell was Vice President of Tishman Hotel & Realty LP, where she was involved in Tishman Hotel & Realty’s many activities, including acquisitions, management, asset management, development, and brokerage. Jennifer holds a B.S. from The School of Hotel Administration of Cornell University, graduating with Distinction.

Barnwell currently serves on the Board of the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA).

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Jennifer Barnwell about the Curator Hotel and Resort Collection, a new idea that was launched in 2020 to serve independent hotels. We discuss how to amplify smaller brands and the creation of curated experiences that are bookable, memorable, and unique.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How, by harnessing the power of scale and working together, hotels can compete more effectively and achieve better financial results
  • Why building collaborative programs requires education, commitment, and awareness
  • How collaboration allows independent hotels to negotiate better financial terms and access a wide range of offerings at a lower cost
  • The importance of open communication, transparency, and collaboration in running a successful collaborative program
  • How Curator helps promote the hotels in their collection with savvy digital marketing and showcasing unique experiences

Independent Hotels Getting Ahead

Through collaboration, independent hotels can pool their knowledge, experiences, and resources, allowing them to compete more effectively with larger chain hotels. Jennifer shares how this sense of togetherness helps to level the playing field and fosters a strong support system within the industry.

By embracing coopetition, independent hotels can find common ground and work towards collective growth, while still maintaining their unique qualities and identities. Through collaboration, they can also offer a huge range of offerings and amenities that cater to different preferences and interests to enhance the overall guest experience.

Authenticity and Honesty

Jennifer emphasizes the importance of open communication, transparency, and collaboration in building successful partnerships. Through collaboration, independent hotels can amplify their brands, attract more guests, and create a sense of place that sets them apart in the industry.

Unique Experiences

By collaborating with independent hotels, Curator can curate and showcase experiences that are truly one-of-a-kind to make their guests’ experiences even better. These experiences can range from local culinary adventures, immersive cultural activities, vibrant art exhibits, and outdoor adventures. They help provide guests with memorable and authentic moments that really can’t be replicated elsewhere, making sure that every stay within the Curator network is a fabulous experience.

Resources:

  • Website: https://www.curatorhotelsandresorts.com/
  • LinkedIn Personal: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-barnwell-a8689ba/
  • LinkedIn Business: https://www.linkedin.com/company/curator-hotel-and-resort-collection

 

I am so excited to announce that my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed, has been released! Help me celebrate this milestone and expand your knowledge about collaboration. Find out more information here: nicolemahoney.com

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/

Sep 27, 2023

Episode 349:

Ariel Azoff is the Executive Director of Tourism and Brand Partnerships at Atlas Obscura, a media and experiences company dedicated to sharing the world’s hidden wonders. Ariel’s work has spanned media, tourism, social enterprise, sustainable fashion, government, and international development. She joined Atlas Obscura in 2017 to head up the company’s DMO campaigns, bringing her professional media experience and personal passion for travel and sustainability to the role. An assimilated Brooklynite, Ariel is also a certified NYC Sightseeing Guide and, in her spare time, designs and leads women’s history tours of the city.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Ariel Azoff about how off-the-beaten-track destinations have fueled the growth of Atlas Obscura into a global digital media company. We talk about identifying destinations that spark curiosity and wonder, and Ariel shares more about some of the out-of-the-ordinary collaborations with destinations they are enjoying right now.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How Ariel’s diverse background in media, tourism, and sustainable fashion influenced her work at Atlas Obscura
  • Why people are seeking out unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences right now and how COVID-19 has impacted this trend
  • The collaboration between Atlas Obscura and Brand USA for the TV show “Small Town Big Story”
  • How Atlas Obscura works with DMOs to create engaging and informative content about destinations
  • How Atlas Obscura has evolved from a blog to a global digital media company providing not only experiences but online courses and print projects

Creative Partnerships

One example of Atlas Obscura’s creative and collaborative partnerships is their collaboration with Missouri Tourism to write a feature article about the haunted Missouri State Penitentiary. This partnership perfectly shows off the adventurous spirit and unique storytelling approach of Atlas Obscura. By working closely with Missouri Tourism, Atlas Obscura was able to tap into the local expertise and deep knowledge of the destination, ensuring an authentic and compelling narrative.

Together, they crafted an article that delves into the chilling history and paranormal legends surrounding the destination, providing readers with a glimpse into the eerie and mysterious side of the state. This collaboration not only highlights the significance of Atlas Obscura’s dedication to showcasing offbeat destinations but also emphasizes their commitment to working hand-in-hand with destination experts to bring these hidden gems to light. By merging their expertise and resources, Atlas Obscura and Missouri Tourism were able to create a compelling feature that entices travelers to explore the haunted corridors of this historic penitentiary and experience the spine-tingling allure of Missouri’s darker side.

Evolving and Expanding the Offering

Ariel shares how as Atlas Obscura’s popularity grew, so did their ambition to expand their offerings. They recognized the need to provide more immersive and interactive experiences for their community of curious travelers and explorers. This led to the creation of unique experiences, such as visiting the iconic Times Square ball or having a firsthand encounter with wolves at a bar. These experiences allowed travelers to engage with their surroundings in unexpected and memorable ways, further capturing the spirit of discovery that Atlas Obscura is known for.

Edu-tainment

Integrating destination marketing into mainstream entertainment has numerous benefits for both destinations and the entertainment industry. By weaving travel experiences and unique destinations into television shows, movies, podcasts, or even fictional narratives, audiences are transported to these unusual locations and it not only sparks curiosity in viewers, but also offers destinations the opportunity to showcase their hidden gems to a wider audience. In turn, the entertainment industry gains access to a fresh and unique angle for their content.

Resources:

I am so excited to announce that my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed, has been released! Help me celebrate this milestone and expand your knowledge about collaboration. Find out more information here: nicolemahoney.com

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/

Sep 20, 2023

Episode 348:

Susan Namulindwa is the founding Director of Girls Run Period, an organization focused on Advocacy for ending Period poverty and women’s rights. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Maama Watali and Africa Trade Desk and the Vice President Canada with the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business. Susan has long standing expertise in policy, partnerships, strategy, outreach, and communications, as well as an experienced fundraiser, presenter, and trainer. She is an advocate for the use of inclusive trade to lift communities out of poverty.

Susan is very involved in her community in Canada and Africa and the broader International African Diaspora through various community development initiatives on gender equality, environment, connectivity, food security, diversity, and inclusion. She is passionate about women and girls’ leadership, well-being, and development.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, Susan Namulindwa dives into her passion for creating trade and business opportunities for Africa and why aid without a relationship is ineffective. She shares why and how she started Girls Run Period, which is focused on ending period poverty in Africa, and how that led her to build world-changing collaborations.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Susan shares more about how Girls Run Period combines running with addressing period poverty in Africa, focusing on empowerment, collaboration, and sustainable tourism
  • The importance of business relationships and trade partnerships for Africa’s development
  • Why Susan and her team entered the UNWTO Tourism Challenge, and how it helped them with aligning their idea with the goal of bringing tourism to small rural communities
  • Some of the amazing events Girls Run Period has organized, including a cross country meet with thousands of attendees and the support of world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge
  • Their future plans supported by Athletic Kenya and the local and national governments, that are helping them expand their impact and empower even more girls

Founding Girls Run Period

Susan shares her passion for creating trade and business opportunities for Africa and discusses how Girls Run Period aims to end period poverty through running events. She talks more about how she came up with the idea for creating an event that would get women excited about participating in a marathon in the Rift Valley and how her own enthusiasm for running led her to link the cause of empowering girls and women in Africa with funding local businesses to provide sanitary wear so girls don’t miss out on crucial years of education.

World Changing Collaborations

Susan shares why collaboration lies at the heart of Girls Run Period’s success. Through partnerships with running clubs, athletic organizations, schools, and health professionals, the program is able to create a network of support that extends beyond running.

This collaborative approach ensures that girls receive not only the necessary supplies but also mentorship, health services, and educational opportunities. By working together, Girls Run Period is able to maximize its impact and create lasting change in the communities it serves.

Promoting Sustainable Tourism

Girls Run Period combines two powerful forces – running and tourism – to create a positive impact. Participants not only get to run in iconic destinations like Kenya’s Rift Valley but also support the cause by paying fees and donations. This unique approach promotes sustainable tourism and helps generate funds for the initiative’s important work.

Susan discusses trade over aid, and why she is a strong advocate for trade partnerships that benefit both Africa and its global partners. By supporting local entrepreneurs who produce reusable sanitary pads, Girls Run Period empowers girls and women while contributing to environmental sustainability. This approach aligns with the sustainable development goals and showcases the trade and business opportunities available in Africa.

Resources:

I have exciting news! I’m publishing my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed. I’d love for you to join my very first book launch team to help me reach my goal of 50 Amazon reviews in the month of September. Go here to join: https://nicolemahoney.com/#join!

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/

Sep 13, 2023

Episode 347:

This week is the second in our two-part series coming to you from the Destinations International annual convention in Dallas, Texas. I have seven inspirational guests with me to share more about what has helped them be successful in the destination marketing industry and what advice they have for future tourism industry leaders. I also asked each of them to describe the convention in just one word — I think you’ll be fascinated by their answers.

The Family Feel of the Destinations International Annual Convention

My inspirational guests share their thoughts on why connecting with others in the travel and tourism industry is an invaluable part of their professional development. They also share what the word partnership means to them and dive into the importance of collaboration in destination marketing.

Joe Marinelli: President of Visit Savannah

Joe shares how he would describe the travel and tourism industry to a future tourism professional as a versatile option. He highlights some of the roles you can do, some of the routes your career can take you, and how you can do the job anywhere you want in whatever capacity in smaller towns, in New York City, or even internationally.

Julie Gilbert: President & CEO for Destination Door County

We discuss how Destinations International has helped Julie move forward in her career with a community-shared values focus. Julie explains how the annual convention allows travel and tourism professionals to come together to discuss what’s happening in the industry, what’s trending, best practices, and how to better communicate with your community, stakeholders, and municipalities.

Kalene Griffith: President & CEO of Visit Bentonville

Kalene dives into what the word partnership means to her — particularly how DMOs can act as leaders in our communities and work with others to become experts in a wide range of niches. Our partnerships are how we work together as a group, how we work with other travel and tourism professionals to extend our knowledge base, and the ways we serve our community.

Leonard Hoops: President & CEO of Visit Indy

We dig into why Leonard chose collaboration as his Destinations International event keyword. Travel and tourism professionals collaborate on ideas and strategies to address issues and make new relationships that go well beyond business-to-business relationships. He shares some of the lifelong friendships he’s made through the conference and how they have provided value to his professional and personal life.

Paige Shepherd: Director of Tourism for the Chickasaw Nation Division of Commerce

Paige shares more about her vast rural destination and elaborates on how events like Destinations International helps her be a better travel marketer by allowing her to build authentic connections with others in the industry. She also shares what partnership means in the context of the Chickasaw Nation and why the success of the communities is the success of the tribe and the destination.

Paul Nursey: CEO of Destination Greater Victoria

Partnership, to Paul, goes deeper than a transaction, and he shares why it needs to be founded on some principles of understanding the core objectives that you each have and discovering the potential synergy to build a solid foundation for a long-term partnership. He highlights the importance of taking the time upfront, doing your due diligence, being thoughtful, and not rushing into partnerships but ensuring that the collaboration is mutually beneficial.

Ron Price: President & CEO of Visit Phoenix

Ron and I dive into the importance of building a shared vision, as well as shared values, with the community and its leaders in your destinations. He shares how he communicates with stakeholders in his location to ensure the DMO can collaborate effectively to serve both visitors and locals. He discusses how travel and tourism professionals can fulfill their role as community architects and work collaboratively to find that common ground to move a project forward.

I just loved diving deep into the details of how events like the Destinations International Conference can move the needle on careers and professional development within the tourism industry. Our guests, all leaders in the tourism sector, shared invaluable insights on honing their skills, the essence of partnership, the significance of collaboration, and the family-like support of the Travel and Tourism community.

I have exciting news! I’m publishing my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed. I’d love for you to join my very first book launch team to help me reach my goal of 50 Amazon reviews in the month of September. Go here to join: https://nicolemahoney.com/#join!

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/

Sep 6, 2023

Episode 346:

This week on the show, we’re enjoying another travel conference edition. Join us at Destinations International (DI) as we talk to a panel of distinguished guests from the tourism industry. With decades of combined experience, they delve into the world of careers and professional development in tourism. From the resilience of hospitality professionals to the importance of collaboration and partnerships, we want to share insights gained at DI.

The Power of Partnerships: Success Stories Shared at Destinations International

Each guest answered five questions about the value of events like Destinations International and why coming together with others in the travel and tourism industry makes you a better tourism professional. They share what the word partnership means to them and share the importance of collaboration in their roles.

Butch Spyridon: President & CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation

On the show, Butch discusses his 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry and highlights the resilience and hardworking nature of those in the travel and tourism niche. He also emphasizes the importance of creating bonds and friendships in one’s career and establishing a network. Butch also shares why he believes that experiences we enjoy during travel can be more valuable than material possessions.

Catherine Jenkins: Marketing & Communications Manager at Kent County Tourism Corp

Catherine shares that attending the conference has made her a better professional by providing opportunities to learn from industry experts and peers. She emphasizes the importance of collaboration and partnerships in her success and how the travel and tourism communities provide support for her work. Overall, Catherine describes the DI conference as inspiring and exciting and a place that makes her feel ready to rejoin her colleagues in Kent County and start making plans for the future.

Cheryl Kilday: President & CEO of Destination Myrtle Beach

We welcome Cheryl back to the show to share her thoughts on Destination International as a place to access data about the travel and tourism industry, talk to the people who developed it, and interact with that information to get a deeper, better understanding than just reading it off of an online article. Cheryl also emphasizes the importance of peer-to-peer connection and why building a network and developing relationships at the conference is so helpful.

Darien Schaefer: President & CEO at Visit Pensacola, Inc.

Darien dives into why partnership is critical to what we do in destination marketing. He talks about the value of working with peer organizations in your destination and elaborates on why it is key to our success to build as many partnerships as we can. Darien also shares that his words for Destinations International in 2023 are beneficial and important.

Darryl Leggieri: President at Discover Saratoga-Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau

We’re always looking to give newcomers to the travel and tourism industry a helping hand, and Darryl shared the advice he would offer. He highlights the importance of the bonds and friendships you create over your career and why establishing your network is so important. Darryl explains why he describes his experience at Destinations International as engaging and why he loves catching up with colleagues on the conference floor.

Gary Wheat: President and CEO at Visit Macon

Gary and I discuss the power of partnership. He describes how talking to and learning from his counterparts in the travel and tourism community with a shared understanding is therapeutic. As Gary shares his enthusiasm in creating a positive experience for travelers, his deep understanding of the travel and tourism industry is inspiring. Gary explains why his words for Destinations International in 2023 are friendship and validation.

From the importance of networking and collaboration to the resilience and adaptability required in the face of challenges like the pandemic, these professionals share their insights and experiences. As they highlight the value of strong partnerships, continuous learning, and making a difference in their communities, it becomes clear that the tourism industry is not just about travel and hospitality—it’s about forging connections, creating memorable experiences, and shaping the future of destinations.

Stay tuned for the second part of our series, where we will continue to hear insights from travel experts at Destinations International.

I have exciting news! I’m publishing my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed. I’d love for you to join my very first book launch team to help me reach my goal of 50 Amazon reviews in the month of September. Go here to join: https://nicolemahoney.com/#join

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 30, 2023

Episode 345:

Rachel Brown is the Executive Director of Visit Durango. In her role, she leads the team of tourism marketing and sustainability experts at the award-winning Destination Management & Marketing Organization (DMMO) for southwest Colorado’s most visited region. Rachel has over ten years of experience in tourism marketing and has held director positions at Visit Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, and Visit Oakland. She has earned a Global Sustainable Tourism Council Certification, sits on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Tourism Office, and is the Chair of the Marketing Committee for the Colorado Tourism Office. Rachel has always had a passion for travel and tourism and has visited over 40 countries on six continents.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Rachel Brown about sustainable tourism and the ways that Visit Durango is supporting sustainability throughout the community. She shares why they created a new organizational structure and moved from being a Destination Marketing Organization to a Destination Marketing and Management Organization.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Why Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) need to take action and address sustainability issues
  • Opportunities and challenges faced by DMOs during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the need to shift towards a sustainability stewardship approach and the importance of effective communication
  • Rachel shares the benefits of building partnerships and discusses how they got Durango included in the Colorado
  • Historic Hot Springs Loop
  • The advantages of having an in-house marketing team for a DMO including agility, adaptability, and cost savings
  • Why they transitioned from a destination marketing organization to a destination marketing and management organization, and their triple bottom line approach (planet, people, profit) in destination management

Recognizing the Triple Bottom Line Approach

Rachel shares how the shift to sustainable destination management has brought so many benefits to Durango. It has helped alleviate the negative impact of over-tourism, ensured the preservation of natural resources, and enhanced the local community’s quality of life. By prioritizing sustainability, Durango has become a more desirable destination for socially and environmentally conscious travelers, attracting visitors who appreciate and support responsible tourism practices.

Visit Durango also recognized the need to adopt a triple-bottom-line approach to sustainability, encompassing environmental, social, and economic factors. While DMOs have traditionally focused on the profit aspect, Visit Durango is committed to prioritizing environmental conservation, supporting local communities, and creating a balance between the three aspects.

Shifting from Marketing to Stewardship

Rachel shares more about why Visit Durango launched the Care for Durango stewardship campaign to embrace sustainable destination management. This initiative aims to educate visitors and residents about responsible tourism practices and encourage them to actively participate in preserving Durango’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Creative Partnerships

We also discuss how Visit Durango came to be included in the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop. Although they initially met with resistance, Visit Durango worked tirelessly to join the group of popular destinations, and their inclusion, along with other local hot springs, has resulted in increased collaboration and marketing opportunities for all. The inclusion in the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop showcases the stunning natural landscapes and the healing power of hot springs and highlights Durango as a must-visit destination in Southwest Colorado.

Resources:

Website: https://www.durango.org/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/durango-area-tourism-office/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/visitdurango
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VisitDurango
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/visitdurango/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnkW638LvBVY7BEVjOaUWjg

Aug 23, 2023

Episode 344:

Liza Ochsendorf is the Director of Workforce Development for Warren County, NY. She oversees the county operations of WIOA Title programs in the Warren County Career Center and works closely with local and regional partners to address barriers to employment, such as child care, housing, transportation, skill deficits, etc. Her work addressing local industry needs has led to stronger private-public sector partnerships to problem-solve collaboratively for short and long-term solutions to workforce challenges.

Her passion for workforce development and economic development is rooted in community collaboration, effective communication, and clear goals and desired outcomes for all stakeholders. Liza has 14 years of experience working in education in Washington, DC, where she oversaw Life Skills programs and was instrumental in implementing restorative practices to build community and improve student outcomes.

Liza is a graduate of Syracuse University and resides in Glens Falls, where she serves on the Board of Directors for the Tri-County United Way, the Executive Board for the Saratoga-North Country Continuum of Care, the Park Theater Foundation Board of Directors, and is a member of Greater Capital Region Women United.

On this Destination on the Left episode, I talk with Liza Ochsendorf, who shares her insights into managing the current workforce shortage. She highlights some of the creative ways that she is helping her community address workforce shortages and the ways she is helping hospitality businesses reach the youth population, improve retention, and help with training to feed the workforce pipeline in the hospitality industry.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The importance of youth involvement in job fairs and workforce development
  • Why we should be rethinking job postings and descriptions to focus on skills rather than only experience
  • How we can embrace AI and automation in the workforce for those tasks that don’t need a human touch
  • Ways DMOs can overcome barriers for people with disabilities, justice-impacted individuals, and veterans to enter employment
  • Liza also shares some of her creative strategies for addressing long-term workforce shortages, including incorporating flexibility and hybrid work schedules in roles

The Challenge of Long-Term Workforce Shortages

Liza highlights the long-term challenge of workforce shortages, which are not only a result of the pandemic but also due to factors such as the younger generation having fewer children than currently retiring baby boomers. Liza emphasizes that the common narrative suggesting people don’t want to work isn’t true, as the data shows that the labor participation rate has actually recovered and is currently at its highest point since January 2007.

She explains that the pandemic has caused a shift in people’s work preferences, with a greater desire for flexibility and hybrid work schedules. As a result, there has been a decrease in people working in public-facing industries and an increase in individuals starting their own businesses.

Highlighting Your Skills

In response to the workforce shortages in the hospitality and tourism industry, Liza shares various creative strategies implemented by Warren County. These strategies include hosting engaging high school job fairs and providing a hospitality training program. The program, known as PUSH, or “Pathways Up for Success and Hospitality,” guarantees participants an interview with a local hospitality business. The county also puts time and resources into retention strategies, encouraging businesses to be great employers and providing opportunities for growth and advancement.

AI and Automating Jobs

Liza also shares valuable insights on harnessing AI and automation to enhance workforce efficiency and highlights that while AI is not expected to replace jobs requiring human interaction, it can significantly contribute to filling roles where human contact is not essential.

This opens up opportunities for streamlining tasks and improving efficiency across various industries. As businesses adapt to these new technologies, Liza encourages employers, particularly in the travel and tourism niche, to explore creative ways to leverage AI for increased productivity.

Resources:

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/

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