Curt Bedei is the Executive Director for the Ottawa Visitors Center in Ottawa, Illinois. He was hired in 2011 as the Graphics Design Manager to handle the botanical brand management. Since then, Curt has worked his way up, earning a certificate in Not For Profit management. In 2015, he had the opportunity to take on his current role. Curt sits on many boards and committees related to tourism, such as the Heritage Corridor CVB, LaSalle County Tourism Coalition, the Looking For Lincoln/ Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, and the Ottawa History and Scouting Heritage Museum. Curt has always lived in the Ottawa Area, and he loves history and traveling so this seemed like a natural fit.
Destination on the Left is joined by Curt Bedei, the Executive Director for the Ottawa Visitors Center in Ottawa, IL. On our podcast, Curt shares his journey into travel and tourism and talks about the creativity and collaborative efforts OVC has made to help their destination thrive. Learn about Ottawa’s community-driven approach branding, and find out how they are responding to the difficult challenges brought forth by 2020.
Curt Bedei is the Executive Director for the Ottawa Visitors Center in Ottawa, Illinois. During his conversation with host Nicole Mahoney, Curt explains how Ottawa lives out its botanical brand. He talks about the discovery process for identifying what truly makes Ottawa stand out from the pack. And as a community, they have focused on developing an experience to live out the brand promise. Curt joins Destination on the Left to talk about how the Ottawa community has responded to the difficult challenges of 2020. He also dives into the regional collaboration that brought a national television program to their destination, which is still paying dividends today.
Like many of the guests on Destination on the Left, Curt sort of stumbled into tourism. However, he quickly discovered that it was his calling, and since 2015, he hasn’t looked back. Curt has had an inspirational career as the Executive Director. But before he ever started climbing the ranks, Curt had no idea where he would end up. He was a graduate of the Great Recession; a position similar to what many budding travel and tourism professionals are facing today. But because of that, Curt is no stranger to difficult times in this industry. He stresses the importance of staying your path and pushing forward no matter what because you can’t plan for the opportunities that this industry will bring. You just have to be ready to capitalize on them when they arise and let nothing else get in your way.
Curt’s relentless determination is one of the main reasons the Ottawa Visitors Center has experienced such great success since he took the helm. When he joined the team at the Ottawa Visitors Center, they were looking to rebrand in order to stand out from the crowd and lift the community up. Curt and his team used creativity and collaboration to make that happen. They came up with the botanical brand in 2012, which focused heavily on developing gardens, art, and culture in the community. They revitalized the downtown area and did everything in their power to create a greater sense of pride in the community. This was all accomplished in collaboration with the city and the community itself—and the high level of support that was generated through this focus on engagement produced astonishing results.
LIVE EVENT: The Ottawa Visitors Center is hosting a virtual experience with Abraham Lincoln on August 12th at 7 pm. The live, online performance will combine period music with conversation and narrative by President Lincoln, using Lincoln’s own words, while illuminating Lincoln’s use of communication as a personal and political tool. This engaging show features Lincoln impersonator George Buss, and Illinois folk musician and folklorist Chris Vallillo. The performance will be followed by a Q & A with Buss and Vallillo. More information can be found on their website.
For Destination on the Left’s solocast episode, I want to talk to you about virtual events. Our team has been working with several clients to assist them with virtual event planning, and so much valuable information has come out of our experiences. On our podcast, we talk about why you should consider virtual events, what a virtual event is, and how to host your own virtual event. We also walk through a virtual event case study that exemplifies the process of turning a live event into a virtual event.
For Destination on the Left’s solocast episode, I want to talk to you about virtual events, Our team has been working with several clients to assist them with virtual event planning, and so much valuable information has come out of our experiences. On our podcast, we talk about why you should consider virtual events in the first place. Then, we look at what a virtual event actually is, and how to host your own virtual event from a technological perspective. We also walk through a virtual event case study that exemplifies the process of turning a live event into a virtual event. This is a huge opportunity for all types of businesses, and it will provide you with tons of useful skills and content as business resumes.
There is a lot of skepticism around virtual events. Businesses aren’t quite convinced of their longevity, engagement, and trackability. But the reality is that virtual events are here to stay. As hybrid events become the norm, there will be tons of new audiences to reach in new ways. Virtual events provide a one-on-one, intimate meeting style where buyers and sellers can plan for the future. In group settings, more people can participate in virtual events due to lower costs and lack of travel requirements. On top of that, all of the digital assets created for virtual events can be leveraged over and over again as time moves on. You can build on what you have, and repurpose content to build a robust resources library that will continue to generate business down the road.
From virtual summits and conferences to consumer activations and award ceremonies, there are a bunch of different types of virtual events that your business can host. Depending on your organization’s goals, resources, and timeline, some virtual events are much more effective than others. Marketing agencies are in the best position to help you select the best option and put it together because they utilize content development and digital marketing strategies on a daily basis. Even if you don’t have most of the skills needed to develop a virtual event in-house. It is easy to collaborate with a strategic partner and create something memorable. Virtual events are a great way to build momentum as lockdowns are lifted, so I highly recommend incorporating one into your 2020 marketing strategy.
JoAnna Haugen is a seasoned writer, speaker, and founder of Rooted, a solutions-storytelling platform. Her work has been published in more than 60 print and online publications, including Fast Company, Popular Science, Mongabay, BBC, and CNN. Her time as a returned Peace Corps volunteer, commercial travel writer, intrepid world traveler, international election observer, and American expatriate informed the establishment of Rooted, a storytelling platform at the intersection of sustainable travel, environmental conservation, and community-focused advocacy efforts. Rooted’s mission is to responsibly document, support, celebrate, and share sustainable travel initiatives that put communities first and to help others do the same. Learn more about JoAnna’s background here: https://www.joannahaugen.com/about/
Destination on the Left is joined by JoAnna Haugen, the founder of Rooted, a solutions storytelling platform. On our podcast, JoAnna and I have an amazing conversation about using the diverse voices of a local community to help tell that destination’s story. JoAnna talks about how the world is a messy place, and she shares her thoughts around embracing the messiness to develop a greater sense of authenticity. Learn how JoAnna uses authenticity, creativity, and collaboration to navigate the new challenges posed by the global pandemic.
JoAnna Haugen is the founder of Rooted, a solutions storytelling platform seated at the intersection of sustainable travel, environmental conservation, and community-based advocacy efforts. On our podcast, JoAnna and I have an amazing conversation about using the diverse voices of a local community to help tell that destination’s story. JoAnna talks about how the world is a messy place, and she shares her thoughts around embracing the messiness to develop a greater sense of authenticity. Learn how JoAnna uses authenticity, creativity, and collaboration to navigate the new challenges posed by the global pandemic.
JoAnna says that “local solutions can have a global impact,” and that nugget inspired her to look for ways to combat the damage and destruction that travel writing has on the destinations we travel to and the people we meet while we’re there. It culminated in the creation of her storytelling platform “Rooted,” which aims to responsibly document, support, celebrate, and share sustainable travel initiatives that put communities first and help others do the same. We need to communicate about people, places, and the planet in a way that can activate impactful change. To accomplish this, JoAnna focuses on three specific audiences: travel service providers, representatives for local travel initiatives, and content creators.
Many of us travel to certain places because the people there have shaped the destination as we know it. At the end of the day, JoAnna’s goal is to lift up local people, enterprises, and communities to highlight the work they’re doing and create vibrant destinations. That is what drives Rooted’s initiative to amplify everything being done on the local level. And in the midst of this global pandemic, we have an opportunity to tell an even greater story. If we want to maintain a sustainable travel and tourism industry moving forward, we need to do so in a way that lifts destinations up and paints them as something more than a pretty backdrop.
There’s a southern accent, where Courtney Kasper comes from. She is a Sweet Home Alabama native, Florida State and Syracuse University graduate, and a Poodle person. Courtney is the current Equal Rights Heritage Center Visitor Experience Manager. She is a former associate publisher of Today’s Central New York Woman, and a journalist with work featured in Time Out New York and Dance Magazine. Courtney is a direct descendant of Revolutionary heroine Nancy Morgan Hart, otherwise known as War Woman.
Destination on the Left is joined by Courtney Kasper, the Visitor Experience Manager at the Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn, New York. On our podcast, Courtney and I have an amazing conversation where she shares her approach to “being patient where you are with your place in life.” We talk about the vast amount of ways that idea ties into her current work and the state of crisis we are currently experiencing. She walks us through the process she used to create a powerful brand identity for the building she was hired to manage. She also discusses the many collaborations and creative breakthroughs that enabled her organization to successfully navigate the challenges of the pandemic.
Courtney Kasper is the Visitor Experience Manager at the Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn, New York. On our podcast, Courtney and I have an amazing conversation where she shares her approach to “being patient where you are with your place in life.” We talk about the vast amount of ways that idea ties into her current work and the state of crisis we are currently experiencing. She walks us through the process she used to create a powerful brand identity for the building she was hired to manage. She also discusses the many collaborations and creative breakthroughs that enabled her organization to successfully navigate the challenges of the pandemic.
The Equal Rights Heritage Center is unique because it is technically the official welcome center for the city of Auburn, New York. It is the headquarters for the City of Auburn Historic and Cultural Sites Commission, which was started to create a round table for all of the different site directors so they could create strategies to boost tourism in Auburn together. With exhibits like “Seeing Equal Rights in NYS,” however, it is so much more than a welcome center. They are trying to promote tourism, but more importantly, they are trying to tell Auburn’s story and the stories of the amazing people who made Auburn what it is today.
The collaboration between all of the historic and cultural sites has yielded great results for the City of Auburn. But creativity is what really helped the destination stand out from the pack. The Equal Rights Heritage Center has so many things under one roof, so Courtney had to develop a brand identity that captured the right amount of everything. Through the Market New York program, Courtney was able to work with an agency to create a powerful campaign highlighting the unique welcome center building and its equal rights exhibit. They built out content to highlight the unique backstory of the building, and they designed events to celebrate other aspects of Auburn as well. It was a difficult challenge, but Courtney was able to reinvent the welcome center’s brand while preserving its history.
Adam Stoker has been in marketing now since 2007. In 2012, he got his first experience in marketing for tourism destinations. From that point forward, he knew he had found his passion. Since then, Adam has worked with destinations across the country to improve their marketing, branding, and use of technology.
He is the President and CEO of an advertising agency focused on marketing for tourism destinations. It’s called Relic, and it’s in Provo, Utah.
Adam started the Destination Marketing Podcast in May of 2019. After having so many amazing guests come on the show and share their knowledge, he realized he needed to curate all of that content into a book. This is his first time doing something like that and he’s really proud of it.
Adam’s hope is to release a new edition every year, as the industry is always changing.
He is a father of four and married to the girl of his dreams. Without their support, this never would have been possible. Adam lives in Salem, Utah.
Destination on the Left is joined by Adam Stoker, the President and CEO of Relic, an advertising agency in Provo, Utah that specializes in destination marketing. On our podcast, Adam talks about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the tourism industry as a whole. He shares examples of creative marketing that has helped destinations stand out at this time. And he also explains what destination marketers can do to reach the right audiences at the right time during reopening travel.
Adam Stoker is the President and CEO of Relic, an advertising agency in Provo, Utah that specializes in destination marketing. He is also the host of the Destination Marketing Podcast, where he interviews industry experts from a wide range of tourism focuses. On our podcast, Adam joins us to talk about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the tourism industry as a whole. He shares examples of creative marketing that has helped destinations stand out during this crisis. And he also explains what destination marketers can do to reach the right audiences at the right time in the reopening travel market.
There is a whole generation of people in the destination marketing industry that has not lived through a crisis. Adam’s journey into the travel and tourism industry started at the beginning of the great recession, and it ended up being a blessing in disguise. Learning how to navigate a crisis is going to benefit you for the rest of your career because challenges will continue to arise. Ten years of sustainable growth has devalued creativity in the travel and tourism industry, but this crisis has forced brands to find new ways to stand out from the crowd. DMOs generally operate within a small geographic area with similar features to their competitors, so it is important to move past the first idea at the brainstorming session. From Oregon’s animated campaign to Nebraska’s “Nebraska is Not for Everyone” campaign, there is a lot of good stuff out there right now.
Times of crisis produce some of the greatest challenges DMOs will ever have to overcome. But when our backs are against the wall, we inevitably do some of our very best work. Since every single one of Adam’s clients was facing similar struggles as a result of the pandemic, the first thing on the agenda was to create temporary destination messages to keep them top of mind. The next step was to help clients create their recovery campaigns, which for many of them would be the difference between having a job or not having a job when everything is all said and done. Adam’s team produced some of the greatest work they have ever done during that time, and it will have a significant impact on their clients moving forward.
Colleen Siuzdak is the Manager of VISIT Staten Island, a campaign run out of the Staten Island Borough President James Oddo’s Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. This office, created in June 2017, invites visitors to explore the borough’s many parks and cultural attractions, while encouraging residents to explore their own backyard. Start your journey to Staten Island on the free Staten Island Ferry and see the many offerings of the Unexpected Borough!
Jennifer Sammartino is a former journalist and experienced communications professional with a particular interest in serving the community. She’s fresh off serving as the first-ever Director of Tourism and Cultural Affairs for the Office of the Staten Island Borough President. And she is ecstatic to take on new challenges as Deputy Chief of Staff.
Destination on the Left is joined by Colleen Siuzdak and Jennifer Sammartino from the Staten Island Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. During our conversation, Colleen, Jennifer, and I discuss the different ways VISIT Staten Island entices visitors to explore the Unexpected Borough. We talk about the challenges of marketing a destination so close to Manhattan, and the creative ways in which VISIT Staten Island has collaborated to boost tourism!
Colleen Siuzdak and Jennifer Sammartino join us from the office of the Staten Island Borough President, James. S. Oddo! Colleen is the manager of VISIT Staten Island, a campaign highlighting the borough’s many parks and cultural attractions for visitors and locals alike. Jennifer is the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. Together, they form an unstoppable destination marketing team. In our conversation, Colleen, Jennifer, and I discuss the different ways VISIT Staten Island entices visitors to explore the Unexpected Borough. We talk about the challenges of marketing a destination so close to Manhattan, and the creative ways in which VISIT Staten Island has collaborated to boost tourism!
As we all know, the tourism and hospitality industry is extremely competitive—especially when a destination is nestled in the heart of a tier-one city like NYC. To help the Unexpected Borough stand out from the crowd, Colleen and Jennifer stretched their creative and collaborative efforts as far as they would go. They worked with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce to hire a marketing agency that could help with some of the heavy lifting. They held workshops with cultural stakeholders in the area such as museums and art galleries, so they could rebrand Staten Island through that lens. Colleen and Jennifer created a unique and refreshing image for Staten Island, which gave them a platform to form partnerships and build itineraries moving forward.
The ”Unexpected Borough” tag line has taken off, and people are using it everywhere. It has been so well-received because the entire campaign is completely void of desperation and packed with confidence. Staten Island isn’t begging people to visit, they are asserting the notion that you haven’t truly seen New York without visiting Staten Island. There is so much to offer, and so much love to spread, which is why Colleen and Jennifer have seen such a great return on their investment in this project. When people finally do get to see Staten Island, they are proactively sharing their experiences for the world to see. It has created a compound effect that is driving visitor traffic to this day.
Robb Wells, President and CEO of the Greater Beaufort-Port Royal CVB, has been a Destination Marketing Professional for more than 15 years. Starting his career as Executive Director for Duplin County Tourism in North Carolina before moving to become Sr. Director of Marketing at the Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation and then became Vice President of the Tourism Division for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce before taking on his current role as President and CEO of the CVB.
Robb is successful at establishing the vision and strategies necessary to ensure a destination’s continued success. He excels at creating relationships, networks, and business connections while partnering with all core tourism constituents to significantly increase the area’s visitor experience and overall economic impact.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, we are joined by Robb Wells, the President and CEO of the Greater Beaufort-Port Royal Conventions and Visitors Bureau in South Carolina. During this conversation, Robb discusses his journey in the travel and tourism industry, and he shares invaluable lessons about responding to adversity and uncertainty. Learn how Robb’s organization is using creativity and collaboration to cut through the noise and make a positive impact on the Beaufort community.
Robb Wells is the President & CEO at Greater Beaufort-Port Royal CVB in South Carolina. Robb started his journey in travel and tourism with a DMO in a small rural community that was still under economic development. The lessons and experience Robb picked up in that role set the stage for his career and prepared him to lead the operation with the Greater Beaufort-Port Royal CVB. In this episode of Destination on the Left, Robb shares invaluable insights about responding to adversity. Robb’s community has to prepare itself for hurricane season every year and the lessons he has learned from dealing with that uncertainty are widely applicable to other scenarios as well.
Robb’s first day on the job was a governor’s conference. As a twenty-four-year-old who got thrown into the deep end, Robb had to learn on the fly and work outside of his comfort zone constantly. It is something most of us do now and then, but to this day, Robb is educating himself regularly to serve his community the best he can. Whether you find tourism or tourism finds you, it is important to stay ahead of the changing landscape by leveraging all of the resources you can find. Travel and tourism is a highly competitive space that requires creativity and collaboration to thrive in, and it is woven into the fabric of our communities’ economies.
When Robb first got into the travel and tourism industry, everything in his community’s tourism strategy was siloed. Robb put a lot of energy into facilitating interdepartmental connectivity and collaboration. He maintains that emphasis to this day because it shapes the way communities view DMOs. People might not understand the tourism industry, but they understand the role of a DMO in their community because of the prevalence of partnerships. Robb is working with his partners on things like content creation and festival production, contributing to an even greater presence of the CVB in Beaufort. Whether it is aggressive public relations campaigns or new attractions, Robb’s organization is focused on a much bigger picture than tourism alone. They are making an impact on the Beaufort community with everything they do.
Jillian Blackbeard’s passion lies in Africa Tourism and Conservation. She has been leading the industry for over 10 years specifically marketing, first for a Southern African hotel and resort chain, followed by five years as director for marketing and product development at Botswana Tourism Organisation, followed by Director for Africa for The World Travel and Tourism Association.
She is now the CEO of The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association, the first purely private sector driven organization representing the entire KAZA region (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) which is undertaking an ambition destination marketing strategy and campaign at all levels of the tourism supply chain. Jillian’s passions extend to conversation, managing the Tlhokomela Endangered Wildlife Trust for five years and continues to support projects that link tourism with conservation.
Over the past years she has spoken at international conferences and events on the importance of Intra-African Travel and opportunities and challenges for the sector across the African continent.
On our podcast, we are joined by Jillian Blackbeard, CEO of The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association, the first private sector-driven organization representing Africa’s KAZA region (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). During our discussion, Jillian shares how her association is creating a powerful, collaborative network to promote the many travel destinations worth visiting throughout the region.
Jillian Blackbeard, CEO of The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association, the first purely private sector-driven organization representing the entirety of Africa’s KAZA region (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) and the region’s many enticing travel destinations. During our discussion, Jillian shares how her association is creating a powerful, collaborative network to promote the many travel destinations worth visiting throughout the region.
As Jillian explains during our conversation, one of the integral elements of her association that sets it apart from others like it is its focus on promoting the entire African region rather than one or two specific destinations. The association works to involve businesses at all levels of the supply chain to help cross-promote them and to help them share and repurpose their content and limited resources. By working together, each business is able to amplify its reach and minimize its marketing costs, while still reaping profound benefits and helping to elevate the entire region and its many destinations.
A theme that Jillian comes back to time and again during our discussion is the power of collaborative and mentor-mentee relationships. As she explains, women in the travel trade often face challenges different from male counterparts, especially in developing regions. Working together and forming a network of partnerships and mentorships can benefit everyone involved, as Jillian illustrates when she shares the profound impact other women mentors within the industry have had on her own career and opportunities. So too, forming a strong network of collaborators has helped The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association and its individual members pool resources to develop a unified message highlighting the region’s many attractive qualities.
Julia Feuell grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and settled in the UK in the 1980s. She set up New Frontiers in 1993, recruiting staff all over the travel industry. In 2008, Julia had an idea to create a training academy for call center workers to learn about products and destinations online. This idea transformed into another business called OTT – a global product marketing and communications business accessed by more than 180,000 travel professionals in 17 languages and in 22 countries.
Julia has actively participated in committees – AWTE (as Chair 06-08), Recruitment & Training committee for ABTA, City and Guilds National Advisory Committee (as Chair 2012) and People 1st training committee. She has been interviewed twice by the BBC for NEWS24.
Julia was also a finalist for “Outstanding Services to the Travel Industry” by the Guild of Travel & Tourism and won “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” at the 2008 Shine Awards.
She enjoys Tai Chi, yoga, eating out in good company, and riding on the back of fast motorbikes!
On our podcast, we are joined by Julia Feuell, Founder and Managing Director of OTT (Online Travel Training), a global product training and marketing platform for the travel trade. During our discussion, Julia shares how her organization is working to train travel professionals and prepare them for lasting post-pandemic changes in the industry, while also developing new partnerships and new technologies to help with industry recovery efforts.
Julia Feuell is the Founder and Managing Director of OTT (Online Travel Training, a global product training and marketing platform for industry professionals across all aspects of the travel trade. During our discussion, Julia shares how her organization is working to train travel professionals and prepare them for lasting post-pandemic changes in the industry, while also developing new partnerships and new technologies to help with industry recovery efforts.
Julia’s organization, OTT, is unique in that it has a broad global reach across 23 different nations and numerous and varied markets. OTT’s clients are able to expand their message while also saving money on B2C advertising costs. Additionally, OTT hosts a vast learning library catering to travel professionals, with more than 200 courses on offer in the industry’s largest e-learning platform. During this unique time of crisis, OTT has shifted its focus to helping industry professionals learn to adapt to the changing landscape of the travel trade as the global pandemic has dramatically (and in many cases, permanently) altered how the travel trade will work.
One of OTT’s core functions during this crisis is to help members cut through the confusing and often conflicting messages to better understand what is happening in the industry during this pandemic. Julia mentioned that domestic travel is likely to be an increasingly important share of the industry as people’s travel habits and expectations change. In fact, during our conversation, one of the points Julia mentioned is that OTT is going to begin researching and collecting information from the global recovery effort to help members better understand what is and isn’t working and to make more informed choices regarding capacity and where to focus their efforts. This information will prove invaluable as the travel trade begins moving forward again.
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A seasoned tourism executive with more than 35 years of experience in the industry, Don Welsh serves as the President and CEO of Destinations International. Since joining the association in March 2016, Welsh has implemented a strategic realignment for the association through a renewed commitment to focus on member needs to deliver the resources members have determined to be essential to the success of their organizations.
Prior to joining Destinations International, Welsh served as the President and CEO of Choose Chicago. Welsh also held the CEO position at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau. Prior to joining the destination marketing industry, Welsh served as senior vice president for Westin Hotels at its corporate headquarters, and has also held senior leadership positions in sales and marketing for Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. A seasoned tourism executive with more than 35 years of experience in the industry, Don Welsh serves as the President and CEO of Destinations International. Since joining the association in March 2016, Welsh has implemented a strategic realignment for the association through a renewed commitment to focus on member needs to deliver the resources members have determined to be essential to the success of their organizations.
On our podcast, we are joined by Don Welsh, the President and CEO of Destinations International. In our discussion, Don shares his perspective on the impact the pandemic is having on the tourism industry. He explains the current and future role of DMOs, the funding challenges they are facing, and how the pandemic has equalized the tourism industry.
Don Welsh is a veteran of travel and tourism, and he currently serves as the President and CEO of Destinations International. Throughout his career, he has accrued more than thirty-five years of experience in our industry, holding several senior leadership positions with international brands like Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino. On our podcast, Don shares his perspective on the impact the pandemic is having on the tourism industry. He discusses the current and future role of DMOs, the funding challenges DMOs are facing amidst the global pandemic, and he also talks about how the pandemic has equalized the tourism industry.
Don’s organization represents more than six hundred CVBs and DMOs in over thirteen countries. So the good news is, he has a pretty strong grasp on what’s happening in travel and tourism around the world. Unlike localized natural disasters and other disruptive events that are unique to each DMO, this pandemic has been an equalizer. It has been a universal flattening of our industry, and from South America to Europe, we are all experiencing a similar struggle. It has been a time of transformation, where historic highs for airlines, restaurants, and hotels were tanked almost overnight. We quickly learned what it’s like to not have that, and DMOs are adapting as a result.
For a long time, DMOs have made up an invisible industry. They operate quietly in the background doing significant work that often goes unacknowledged. But the relevance of tourism organizations in our communities has been exposed by the global pandemic. The concept of community shared-value ensures there is an alignment with tourism organizations and their local communities. To achieve sustainable tourism down the road, we need to promote the same level of understanding and awareness for DMOs as we do for other organizations in the community. A significant evolution must take place to respond to changes presented by the pandemic, and with the oversight of organizations like Destinations International, the process is already underway.
Neal Sherman is the founder and President of TAGeX Brands, a global firm that creates marketplaces for surplus equipment, inventory, and other assets. With a sound foundation in the food industry, TAGeX has expanded into other sectors and focuses on generating return on assets and reducing waste. TAGeX Brands connects buyers and sellers in a common marketplace. The industries served include retailers, restaurants, grocery chains, manufacturers, distributors and convenience stores.
For over thirty years, TAGeX and its affiliated firms have helped clients deal with the challenges of growth, transition, and decline. Serving up to 35,000 locations per year, TAGeX has been a pioneer in the outsourcing of equipment and facility transitions. The firm boasts a multitude of sales channels that serve clients and customers across the nation.
After years of growth and the need for a larger facility, TAGeX Brands relocated its operations from the Washington D.C. area to the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, near Sherman’s hometown of Geneva. This move was prompted by his role in the development of a 1,000-acre portion of the former Seneca Army depot.
Sherman is a committed member of the Young Presidents Organization, with 20,000 members in 300 Chapters in 100 Countries. He has served in a number of roles for the group including Chapter Chair of the Empire Chapter in Rochester, New York, home of YPO Founder Ray Hickok. Neal chaired the Miami YPO/WPO Global Leadership Conference.
In 2017, Neal was inducted into the Fellows Program at the Culinary Institute of America, which is widely recognized as the world’s premier culinary college with an industry-wide reputation for excellence and more than 49,000 alumni.
Sherman was appointed to the founding Executive Board of the Remanufacturing Industries Council (RIC). The RIC serves as the industry advocate for all sectors engaged in Remanufacturing, a market valued at over $100 billion, employing over 500,000 people.
Among a variety of charitable pursuits has been a life-long commitment to cancer causes and disadvantaged youth. Sherman has been honored by a number of organizations including Young Women’s College Preparatory School of Rochester, The Center for Youth, and New Leadership for Israel Bonds.
His unique experience and perspective on the restaurant and broader business environment has been sought by the media, business leaders, and government officials. He has provided his perspective and analysis to a range of media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, USA Today, The New York Times, Nation’s Restaurant News, Franchise Times, and the Restaurant Finance Monitor. Sherman has also spoken at a number of industry conferences.
Sherman has a BA in Government from The American University in Washington, D.C., studied Economics at the University of London and received a Masters of Business Administration from New York University. He has been a frequent lecturer on college campuses and an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Columbia Union College.
Neal has been married for over thirty years to his wife Pam, a lawyer, actress, syndicated columnist, and global speaker (www.ThePamSherman.com). They have launched two children in the world and live in Rochester, New York.
On our podcast, we are joined by Neal Sherman, the founder and President of TAGeX Brands. In our discussion, Neal shares his perspective on the hospitality and food industries amidst the global crisis. He talks about what it will look like when we come out on the other side, and what strategies we can use to thrive during this crisis.
Neal Sherman is the founder and President of TAGeX Brands, a global firm that handles all aspects of facility closure and equipment liquidation in the food industry. TAGeX is a mediator between buyers and sellers of restaurant equipment, facilitating transactions in a common marketplace for the betterment of the industry as a whole. On our podcast, Neal shares his perspective on the hospitality and food industries amidst the global crisis. Neal’s experience on the operations side of the restaurant business enables him to provide a unique viewpoint on what the pandemic has done to the industry. He talks about what it will look like when we come out on the other side, and what strategies we can use to thrive during this crisis.
Many of us have seen the numbers depicting the impact that the global pandemic has had on the hospitality and restaurant industries. But Neal Sherman sees them through an entirely different lens. As of last week, 130,000 restaurants were closed in America, eight million people were displaced from their jobs, and the industry will lose about $225B in total. That number is only the operators—if you take into account all of the ancillary industries as well, the numbers are amplified. It is painful to watch, and even more painful to experience, but change is inevitable and we have to figure this out on our own. We can choose to sit in the corner and sulk, or we can get back in the ring and fight—it is our decision to make.
The thin margins associated with the hospitality industry contribute to its volatility. But restaurants were not made to sustain protracted periods of time with no business. In most industries, businesses do not operate with a six-month cash reserve, and restaurants have even less of a cushion. They are doing what they can to adapt. Creative twists on take-out and delivery strategies are helping restaurant owners recoup some of their losses. But it is only making up around 10-20%. Restaurants have to balance reopening with what is feasible based on their books, but communication is the key to making it work. Many operators are negotiating sacred topics that are never traditionally negotiated, such as bank loans, rent, vendor terms, etc. It is not going to be easy
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A true visionary and entrepreneur, Brian has over 13 years of experience in the property management and vacation rental industry. Passionate about the budding potential of investing in the Finger Lakes region, and fueled by his love for the area and the outdoors, Brian was inspired to buy 80+ acres of local farmland. Dreaming of the possibilities this land could offer to the public, he formed Lincoln Hill Farms LCC and hired a team of various individuals with the necessary skills and talents to transform this beautiful farmland into an all-inclusive venue and agricultural attraction.
When Brian is not busy working and managing his ventures, he enjoys relaxing with his wife and three children. He also enjoys supporting ROC City Values, a non-profit organization that he founded which sponsors a 5k Walk/Run each June in support of the Rochester City School District.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, we are joined by Brian Mastrosimone, owner of Lincoln Hill Farms on Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state. In our discussion, Brian talks about the challenges of launching his dream business. He also discusses his use of creativity in the development project, which has yielded numerous different types of uses for visiting guests to enjoy.
Brian Mastrosimone is the owner of Lincoln Hill Farms, an agricultural attraction and entertainment venue in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. Brian’s background in real estate enabled him to realize his vision for developing over seventy acres on Canandaigua Lake into a multipurpose agricultural destination. This project has spanned the last six years and it is finally coming to fruition, but by no means was it an easy ride. In this episode of Destination on the Left, Brian talks about the challenges of launching his dream business. He also discusses his use of creativity in the development project, which has yielded numerous different types of uses for visiting guests to enjoy.
Today, Lincoln Hill Farms has expanded to ninety-five acres with three houses, a centralized barn, an event pavilion, and repurposed silos. They do anything from music concerts and family outings to corporate events and weddings. Despite all of the unique attractions that Lincoln Hill Farms has to offer, it is a working farm too. They have animals, an acre garden on which they plan to build a kitchen, and this year they are growing an acre of CBD plants as well. These elements of the farm are not their primary source of revenue, but it adds an extra layer of authenticity to amplify the experience. It takes a creative touch to achieve this type of balance and truly stand out from the crowd.
One of the main drivers of Brian’s creativity is his decision to embrace the farm feel. It is a farm-based more on the space itself and how it is used rather than what the farm produces, and the concept has been unbelievably well received by tourists and locals alike. Everything they do is focused on catering to the visitor’s experience and what those transitions will look like. While Brian navigates the challenges posed by the current global pandemic, he and his team continue to find new ways to realize their vision for Lincoln Hill Farms.
Carla Pendergraft is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a B.A. degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has a master’s degree in business from Texas State University. Since 1990, she has worked for the Waco Convention Center and Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau, first in the convention sales area and for the last 4 years, as Director of Marketing. Carla is the proud grandmother of Aviana, who is 8 years old, and Rosie, 2 years.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Carla Pendergraft, the Director of Marketing for the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau, discusses the growth of tourism in Waco, Texas. She walks us through the introduction of tons of new attractions like Magnolia Market at the Silos, and she explains the impact that television shows like Fixer Upper have made on Waco’s community and brand.
Carla Pendergraft is the Director of Marketing for the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau in Waco, Texas. Since 1990, Carla has developed a broad perspective on the success of her community and the Waco brand. She was there for the Waco Siege of the Branch Davidians compound and witnessed the rebound of the Waco brand after the smoke cleared. There is a lot to be said about a community’s willingness to band together and thrive, especially in times like these. That is why Waco continues to stand out after years with Carla at the helm. In this episode, we talk about the success of the Waco brand and how it has changed throughout Carla’s carer. We also discuss the significant impact Magnolia Market at the Silos and Fixer Upper has made on the growth of tourism in Waco.
Carla fell into the CVB world by accident, but she has been there for thirty years now without having the same job once. There are certainly some glamorous elements to the job, but for the most part, it is all about getting in the trenches and figuring out how to make your destination stand out. Because of Waco’s history, standing out was never the problem. It created an uphill battle for destination marketers like Carla who were tasked with shedding Waco’s negative image. Texans have always known Waco well, but people across the world determine the appeal of smaller destinations in one or two thoughts—if they are negative, it is a lot harder to market the destination.
As time went on, the Waco community began to develop organically. Baylor was always a major driver of tourism and as the school grew, so did the travel market. Waco became home to many new attractions like the Waco Mammoth National Monument, the Texas Rangers Museum, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and it is the birthplace of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Fixer Upper on HGTV. Everyone in Waco has a story about how the television show impacted their life. It completely changed the public perception of Waco and made the CVB’s job so much easier. Instead of fighting a negative image, they could focus on using creativity to grow. There is always a way to cut through the noise with creativity and collaboration, and Waco is a testament to that.
Rebekah Greenhill is the director of sales and marketing at Greenhill Winery & Vineyards in Middleburg, Virginia. She and her husband, David Greenhill, also own and operate Middleburg Life magazine and Greenhill Stables. They are based in Middleburg during the summer and Wellington, Florida in the winter for the equestrian and polo season.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Rebekah Greenhill, the director of sales and marketing at Greenhill Winery & Vineyards, shares Greenhill’s story. She explains what brought national and international recognition to this Virginia farm winery. And she talks about some of the strategic partnerships that helped them expand into new markets.
Last year we had the pleasure of doing an episode with Beth Erickson, the president and CEO of the Loudon Convention & Visitors Association. Loudon County has become the premier region of East Coast wine and Beth provided us with a glimpse into the development of Virginia’s wine industry. So, to learn even more about the growth of Virginia’s wine scene, we invited Rebekah Greenhill, the director of sales and marketing at Greenhill Winery & Vineyards, to join us next. In the latest episode of the Destination on the Left podcast, Rebekah explains how Greenhill designed a unique visitor experience and how they formed strategic partnerships to grow their business.
The Virginia climate poses major challenges for winemakers in the area because the weather is erratic and the soil is not always perfect. So, one of the ways that Greenhill Winery & Vineyards stands out from the crowd is by embracing those challenges and showcasing the unique flavor profiles that they create. Greenhill uses 100% Virginia grapes while other local wineries outsource them, so it makes Greenhill more consistent, but it also captures the essence of Virginia’s unique soil and climate. The 100% Virginian wines have received national and international recognition with characteristics that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Another way that Greenhill Winery & Vineyards has cut through the noise and built their brand is by showcasing their identity as a privately-owned farm winery. Greenhill has truly embraced the farm life and it has been woven into the visitor experience as a whole. Guests get to witness the whole operation, not just the tasting room, and they have cows, honey bees, horses, and much more. Greenhill is inviting its visitors to join this lifestyle and be apart of a unique experience that very few wineries can offer. To learn more about the growth of the Virginia wine industry and what the future holds for Greenhill, listen to the latest episode of Destination on the Left.
For ten years Andria has been leading DMO strategy and development by working with the travel industry to navigate the world of data and analytics. Currently, Andria serves as Senior Director of Tourism and Hospitality at ADARA, providing strategic direction and drives cross-team decision making to grow enterprise opportunities in the Americas. Along with her passion for advancing the travel and tourism industry, Andria brings to the team ten years of destination marketing and research experience, as well as expertise in leveraging data to enhance marketing efficiency and promote DMO advocacy. Prior to joining ADARA Andria spent seven years in research leadership positions for destination marketing organizations, including Research Director roles at Georgia Tourism and Texas Tourism.
Andria is an active member of the travel and tourism community, serving on the board of directors for the Travel and Tourism Research Association. She is a proud Texas Aggies receiving both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Texas A&M University.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Andria Godfrey, the senior director of tourism and hospitality at ADARA, discusses the data evolution in travel and tourism. She explains the importance of using data to tell a story, she talks about privacy and how it affects our access to data, and she explains why we need to better understand human behavior and the ‘why’ of our visitors.
Andria Godfrey is the Senior Director of Tourism and Hospitality at ADARA, a company that provides the travel and tourism industry with greater visibility into the needs and wants of in-market travel consumers. They use people-based insights to increase marketing efficiency, foster growth, and maximize the value of a DMO’s customer portfolio. In the latest episode of the Destination on the Left podcast, Andria discusses her role at ADARA, the importance of data storytelling, how privacy affects access to different types of data, and why we need to better understand human behavior and the ‘why’ of our visitors.
Nowadays, it is difficult to find someone who works at a destination that doesn’t geek out about data. Artificial Intelligence is commonplace, and it has enabled communities of all sizes to access more data than they’ve ever had access to before. It is extremely exciting for all DMOs, but it also presents new challenges as we figure out how to use it. Understanding data for a single destination is powerful, but understanding the same data in the context of the travel industry as a whole is unbelievably powerful. That is the ultimate goal as we mold our data into something meaningful.
When DMOs understand the story their data is telling relative to the travel and tourism industry as a whole, it enables them to create more effective messaging. For decades, DMOs have designed their communication strategy to tell their destination’s story, but using the right data can give that story even more meaning. It can help DMOs direct their communication efforts to the ideal target audience so they can create a real connection. They can articulate why the destination should matter to them and help them understand what they will get out of their experience. To learn more about ADARA’s work with data collection and measurement in the travel and tourism industry, listen to the latest episode of Destination on the Left.
We will be hosting our second Destination on the Left Virtual Summit featuring 15 amazing speakers that will be held on April 1-3. The great thing about this summit is it’s free! There is no travel cost for you and you can do it from the comfort of your own office. Click here to learn more details: https://breaktheicemedia.com/podcast/summit/
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Tanner Knorr manages EplerWood International’s new business, develops the newsletter, and continues to build a presence for the company via public relations, social media, and events. Tanner holds a Bachelor’s in Archaeology and a Master’s in Administrative Studies, concentrating in Economic Development and Tourism Management from Boston University. He was also a Teaching Assistant at Harvard Extension.
He owns a business called Off Season Adventures that strives for sustainable tourism practices in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Nepal, and is the President of Second Look Worldwide, a 501(c)(3) organization that sponsors infrastructure improvements around tourism destinations in the developing world.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Tanner Knorr, the Program Manager at EplerWood International and the Founder of Off Season Adventures, joins us to talk about Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism. He discusses the impact of crisis scenarios and overtourism on destinations, and explains what we can do to manage unaccounted for destination costs to provide local infrastructure and protection of eco and sociocultural systems for tourism and local people.
Tanner Knorr is the Program Manager at EplerWood International and Owner and Founder of Off Season Adventures. He is a self-proclaimed sustainable tourism entrepreneur who is dedicated to making infrastructure improvements around tourism destinations in the developing world. Through our conversation, Tanner discusses the recently-released research study, Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism. At a time when our industry is in turmoil due to the impacts of the global pandemic, there is an opportunity to open our minds to new ideas and possibilities. Download the research report and start understanding what we can do to support responsible tourism growth.
The Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism report was put together by EplerWood International, the Cornell Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and The Travel Foundation in the UK. The main goal of this report is to uncover the “invisible burden” of tourism which Tanner defines as the unaccounted for destination costs to provide local infrastructure and protection of eco and sociocultural systems for tourism and local people. It is difficult enough for destinations to find those pieces of the puzzle, so EplerWood International and its collaborators are stepping in to help them manage and finance more efficiently.
When we talk about The Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism report, there are a number of different subsectors of a destination that are affected. When tourism populations exceed the populations of the destination, we start to see destinations crack under the weight of it. It affects things like energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water, solid waste, sewage, and other natural and social capital. Tanner Knorr and his associates are working diligently to mitigate the risks of overtourism and manage the issues that have already arisen. Currently, they are working on phase two of The Invisible Burden where they will provide the necessary skills training to people on the ground.
Jim Bartoo has been the director of marketing and public relations at Nashville Zoo since 1999. During that time, he has seen the Zoo grow from local awareness to national and international recognition with more than 1.2 million guests visiting in 2019. Before coming to Nashville, Jim spent seven years marketing the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, OH. He is accomplished in all aspects of marketing and communications initiatives across the Zoos owned, earned and paid platforms. Jim lives in the Bellevue area (southwest Nashville) with his wife Carole and two daughters, Emma and Grace.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Jim Bartoo, the Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Nashville Zoo, joins us to share his story. He discusses the challenges of marketing a zoo when the destination brand experience is Music City, and he shares the creative solutions his organization has developed to fit into Nashville’s brand.
Jim Bartoo is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Nashville Zoo. He is a lighthearted and enlightening individual who brings so much value to the table. Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, a light-hearted conversation that doesn’t harp on the widespread panic is a much-needed change of pace. Jim discusses the challenges of marketing a zoo when the destination brand experience is Music City, and he shares the creative solutions his organization has developed to fit into Nashville’s brand. His perspective on partnerships and collaborations are invaluable, and he has helped bring more than 1.2 million visitors through the gates in the last year.
Nashville has a large tourism market and visitors have a certain expectation when they travel there. Being a zoo in the market has been very challenging, but Jim has learned a lot in his twenty years there. At first, it was about letting people know they were there in the first place. The marketing efforts were initially designed to get the local populace over to the zoo to sample what was going on. Discounted or free admission, promotional events, and fundraisers were just some of the ways they managed to draw traffic. But as things progressed, Jim and his team were able to focus on promoting specific exhibits and events at the zoo itself. People became more familiar with it over time, but that does not detract from the challenge Jim faced in separating the zoo from the city.
When you talk about destination marketing, everything is very brand-centric. DMOs are responsible for fulfilling the brand experience they create and ensuring that the experience a visitor has circles back to the brand itself. But that is difficult to achieve when your experience is not complete. Nashville Zoo struggled to wow visitors while major exhibits were being built because the guests felt as though they were missing out on something. When the Expedition Peru exhibit was completed, however, visitors could finally navigate a continuous circuit of attractions. Jim shifted the marketing focus from building anticipation and began to construct the identity of the zoo as a destination. The zoo is not a place for live music or drinking, so they are not the poster child of the Music City brand. But their hard work and creative marketing have put them on the map anyway.
Erica Paolicelli is a Partner at Three Brothers Wineries & Estates and War Horse Brewing Company located in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Erica joined the company in 2007, before it opened its doors and helped grow the destination and brand which now sees 150,000+ visitors annually, has distribution regionally to over 300 locations, and employs 150 full and part-time employees. The campus at Three Brothers houses Iron Heart Coffee Company, a café serving lunch (and soon to be dinners) daily and also hosts private events.
Erica is a strategic planner, marketer and brand builder at heart with a keen business sense. She serves on several regional boards including the IDA, the NY Wine Industry Association, the Finger Lakes Community College Advisory Board, and Geneva Community Projects. Together with her colleagues, Erica is one of the founders of the successful Rose Soiree held annually in downtown Geneva which has raised $30k in funds donated to local community organizations.
Erica is a firm believer that the rising tide raises all ships and she thinks it’s her calling to inspire collaboration within her community to help the Finger Lakes continue to be recognized as a premier destination on a global scale.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Erica Paolicelli, Partner at Three Brothers Wineries and Estates and War Horse Brewing Co., explains how she and her team are responding to the current coronavirus pandemic. She discusses the creative solutions they thought up and implemented since the shelter-in-place and social distancing restrictions have gone into effect. And she talks about the unique visitor experiences that make Three Brothers Winery a destination in and of itself!
Erica Paolicelli is a Partner at Three Brothers Wineries & Estates and War Horse Brewing Company located in the heart of the Finger Lakes region in New York State. In our discussion, Erica shares so many creative ideas about how to navigate the coronavirus pandemic in the travel and tourism industry. Erica and her team have thought up and implemented innovative solutions in response to the shelter-in-place and social distancing restrictions have gone into effect. And their ability to use creativity and collaboration is one of the many reasons Three Brothers Winery is a destination in and of itself!
Erica started with Three Brothers as an intern before the winery was anything like it is today. Over time, she moved from $15/hour to a 1% share in the company and, eventually, she started buying stock as well. Erica became a partner because she believes in Dave Mansfield’s vision, and that vision made Three Brothers what it is today. It is no small task for a leader to energize people around their vision or to keep their ego out of the mix. Dave did both, and his ability to see what Three Brothers could become combined with Erica’s drive and ability to execute led Three Brothers to become one of the top wineries in the Finger Lakes region.
The Three Brothers campus has three wineries and a brewery, each with an entirely unique experience from shopping to food and entertainment—it is Disney World for adults. The creativity that makes Three Brothers a destination has also helped them navigate the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, they have been deemed an essential business because they are a beverage manufacturer, but the tasting rooms and communal spaces have been shut down.
They decided to lean into their online presence to engage their current audience to drum up excitement for future events. They are generating long-form content to add value to their customers and give their readers something to look forward to. They are even doing wine slushies to-go which has driven pick-up orders significantly, and they added merchandise to the website. Coupled with a push for real conversations between Three Brothers leadership and their clientele, Erica and her team have seen an outpour of support from the local community and wine lovers all over.
A thirty-plus year veteran of the Travel & Tourism industry, Amir leads the entire Longwoods international team responsible for the development and execution of all facets of the organization from program development to customer acquisition and retention.
He joined Longwoods in 2015 from his previous role as Vice President, Partner Engagement with Brand USA, the public-private partnership serving as the destination marketing organization dedicated to increasing international visitation to the US. He led the team responsible for helping to increase Brand USA’s partnership base and ensuring that participants received excellent service throughout Brand USA’s deployment of joint marketing programs. During his tenure, Brand USA grew its base to 475 partners, comprised of destination marketing organizations, convention and visitor bureaus, attractions, travel brands, airlines, and tour operators.
Prior to joining Brand USA, Amir served as Director of the Ohio Office of Tourism. Under his leadership, the state’s marketing programs realized a tremendous return on investment and contributed to the growth of the state’s $40 billion tourism economy. The programs he developed leveraged industry and nontraditional partnerships that generated $14 in new state and local taxes for every $1 invested and included active participation by thousands of Ohio’s tourism-related businesses. He has also served as Executive Vice President of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, Assistant Director of the Ohio Tourism Division, and Sales & Marketing Manager with the Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau.
He has been recognized with a number of Industry honors including Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing award (2014) by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI); The Ohio Tourism Industry’s Highest Honor, The Paul Sherlock Award; and The State of Ohio Distinguished Service Medal.
Amir holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Amir Eylon, President and CEO of Longwoods International, joins us to share his story and talk about market research in travel and tourism. Amir discusses some of the trends he has seen as DMOs rush to respond to the COVID-crisis, and he talks about the changes in traveler sentiment as the pandemic continues to unfold.
Amir Eylon is the President and CEO at Longwoods International, a respected leader in market research that helps drive destinations toward their goals. Amir and his team have been tracking traveler sentiment for years, but in the midst of this global pandemic, Longwoods International has started tracking traveler sentiment every week. Their objective is to inform and serve the travel and tourism industry as we collaborate to determine the best response to the COVID-crisis.
Amir is a marketer who happens to run a market research company, so he speaks our language. He understands how to use research to produce robust marketing strategies and he has been in the travel and tourism industry for almost thirty-two years. In destination marketing, research not only provides us with a roadmap of where to go, it provides us with information about whether our strategy is working. It enables us to accomplish more with our ideas and resources which is especially important when the going gets rough.
Some of our industry’s best work has come out of crises. And be it 9/11, the great recession, or the COVID-crisis, the great minds of travel and tourism have continued to shine by taking creativity, collaboration, and partnerships to a new level. Traveler sentiment has changed drastically since the pandemic was declared a national emergency. The numbers are not necessarily surprising, but it’s not all bad news either. The silver lining in all of this is that Americans are still looking to travel in the next six months. Many trips have been postponed or canceled, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a beacon of hope that we will all make it through.
In this solocast episode of Destination on the Left, BTI’s Nicole Mahoney shares her thoughts surrounding the impact of the Coronavirus on travel and tourism since the pandemic took hold. She discusses the components of great leadership and mental strength and explains the importance of each in times of crisis.
These past couple of weeks have tested every aspect of our businesses. The Coronavirus Pandemic is yet to hit rock bottom, and it has forced us to push the threshold of creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in the travel and tourism industry. There are silver linings in this mess if you’re willing to look for them, and one of them comes in the form of team members who are stepping up to the plate. In times of chaos, great leaders will emerge in many different capacities. They are not just leaders by title, they are leaders by behavior, and they are keeping the gears turning as everything around us comes to a halt.
If you didn’t get a chance to listen, Episode 166 with author and extreme leadership coach, Steve Farber, we talked about what it means to be a leader. In times like these, great leaders are critical to the survival of every organization. Steve’s LEAP framework breaks down the components of great leadership so we can apply them and become stronger leaders no matter who we are.
Love – Cultivate love; find love in yourself and love in others to lift everyone up.
Energy – Create energy around a vision, a direction, or a response to a crisis.
Audacity – Inspire our teams to follow us into unchartered territory in search of solutions.
Proof – Leaders walk the walk, prove your commitment through action and not just words.
Even with the right framework, coaching, and mentorship, leaders succumb to human fallacies and emotions take hold. If we are operating from a place of fear, we cannot operate effectively as leaders because it hinders our ability to make decisions for our organizations. In these difficult times, we must step out of the scarcity mindset and assume an abundance mindset. We need to be forward-thinking, open to opportunity, and to serve as a beacon for our communities. It will take all of us working together to make it through the pandemic and start recovering—but the will to do so must start with a positive mindset.
With a talent for creating special events that blossomed while working for my dad’s car stereo shop, I got my start in marketing at Frontier Field in Rochester and I began serving as the executive director of the internationally known Lilac Festival. Later on, I headed the Canandaigua, New York Business Improvement District while also performing projects for the tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester.
In 2009, I founded Break the Ice Media, with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing. I now host “Destination on the Left”, a highly successful tourism marketing podcast.
As a business owner, I know what it takes to be successful. I founded BTI to help businesses tell their brand story through public relations, digital and traditional channels. I have the ability to uncover unique marketing opportunities and develop marketing and public relations initiatives that help clients build long-term success.
In this solocast episode of Destination on the Left, I lay out some of the frameworks and strategies that have helped BTI maintain its composure as we respond to the initial fallout of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Right now, the Coronavirus Pandemic has the global economy in total lockdown. It is unclear how long it will last, and the unprecedented nature of this virus and the uncertainty surrounding it is raising concern for the future of our industries. But so many of us have been in this position before. When 9/11 took place, and the great recession of 2008 shook the United States economy, the travel and tourism industry bounced back stronger than ever. It is not about prevention anymore; this global pandemic is already taking place. It is about how we react to it, so I put together some of the frameworks and strategies that have helped BTI maintain its composure as this series of disruptive events unfolds.
Last week, I traveled from Rochester, NY to Savannah, GA in an effort to keep the BTI cog turning and do my part to drive business. However, it didn’t take long to realize that the economic impact of the pandemic stretched well beyond the scope of one country, let alone one industry. It inspired my most recent blog post, where I outline four strategies for responding to the initial shockwave of pandemonium: One, Stay calm. Two, get educated about the situation and stay up to date on the latest developments through reliable sources and your industry associations. Three, prepare to pivot by doing scenario planning. And four, communicate. We cannot stop the spread of COVID-19, but we can survive the fallout if we proactively manage our mindset and collaborate with others in our industry.
Since the beginning of the Destination on the Left, we have talked a lot about collaboration and co-opetition in particular. I believe that, in the complex world of the present-day tourism industry, committing to a holistic approach to collaboration will bring strong market growth and abundance for everyone. The 3 C’s of Collaboration Framework is a system that helps us band together in a time of crisis. First, communication is essential to maintain clarity with your partners and prospects, and it is an opportunity to be a calming voice amidst the uncertainty and chaos. Next, commonality is about identifying common goals and operating with the greater good at heart. And finally, commitment means sticking with your collaborative efforts no matter how tough the going gets because when we bounce back, we bounce back together. Visit the new blog to learn more.
Scott Hutchinson is the Director of Marketing & Communications for the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau and has been with the WCCVB since June of 2014. Scott oversees the bureau’s marketing efforts, managing its advertising and public relations campaigns, as well as the production of its blog content, e-newsletters, and annual Visitors Guide. Prior to joining the WCCVB, Scott held roles with the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Western & Southern Open and Ryan Partnership – a creative agency in Columbus, Ohio. He also had the opportunity to serve as a correspondent at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Scott is a graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and a resident of Cincinnati.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Scott dive’s into the strategy that has brought Warren County upwards of twelve million visitors annually. He discusses the inspiration behind the “Ohio’s Largest Playground” brand, and he talks about what’s in store for the future of WCCVB.
As the director of marketing and communications for the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Scott Hutchinson oversees the bureau’s marketing, advertising, public relations, and content creation. Warren County, Ohio is nestled in between Dayton and Cincinnati, so Scott is presented with both unique opportunities and challenges as he tries to make the Warren County travel experience stand out. He has already separated Warren County from the pack by rebranding the destination as “Ohio’s Largest Playground.” But Scott and his team plan to drive even more visitor traffic this year when they open a brand new multi-purpose sports complex that will serve as a central hub for youth sports organizations and their families.
Scott cherishes the privilege to promote the place where he built his entire life, and he has done an outstanding job telling Warren County’s story. Warren County is most known for King’s Island, but there is a ton of activity beyond the amusement park. The region welcomes approximately twelve million visitors annually and it continues to grow thanks to Warren County’s close proximity to Dayton and Cincinnati. The Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau has played a significant role in the recent spike of visitors, and they continue to drum up new and innovative campaigns that capture the defining qualities of this unique area.
While many destinations hone in on one defining characteristic to build the foundation of their marketing strategy, Warren County has done the exact opposite. In fact, the abundance of attractions is Warren County’s biggest strength, and the seemingly endless list of things to do is the inspiration behind the “Ohio’s Largest Playground” brand. They have the state’s second-largest winery, oldest hotel, oldest restaurant, and they even hold a global tennis tournament every summer. With that, we are only scratching the surface of what Warren County has to offer, Scott and his team have embraced the notion that Warren County has something for everyone, and with their central location, they are within a day’s drive for over 60% of residents in the United States.
To Scott Osborn, Rochester native, the acquisition of Fox Run Vineyards was the natural culmination of his passion for wine and commitment to the industry.
The son of two professors, Osborn’s first interest was international politics. Attending the Friends World College, a unique university with campuses all over the globe, he studied in Kenya, India, Thailand, Japan, and England.
He went into real estate development in 1974, later opening an office in Lake County California, a well-known viticulture area. The move there proved to be fortuitous; living so close to the vines Osborn became interested in wine. In 1980 he took his first job at Konocti Winery labeling bottles. He then went on to work at Firestone Vineyards, Zaca Mesa, and Byron Winery in Santa Barbara. In 1984 During his time at Byron he came back to visit family and during a wine tasting trip around Seneca Lake tasted a Wagner Vineyards 1982 Barrel-aged Chardonnay. It was his first experience with a brilliant cool climate wine and he realized that this was where he wanted to make wines and ultimately own his own vineyard and winery.
In 1985, there were not a lot of winemaking jobs available so he began working for a wine distributor and then went on to be General Manager of Pindar Vineyards on Long Island. In 1993, Fox Run became available and in partnership with Andy Hale, they purchased it.
Since the purchase of the winery in 1994, he has resided in the beautifully renovated farmhouse originally built on the property in 1870. Initially assuming the responsibilities of winemaking, along with the myriad tasks of management, speaking engagements, and travel, he chose to hire a full-time winemaker. His selection of Peter Bell in June of 1995 satisfied his desire to engage the most gifted winemaker in the Finger Lakes region. Their shared vision for quality wine production has freed Osborn to the task of managing the winery and planning for its future. He regularly participates in wine judgings, panel discussions, and symposiums dealing with the many challenges of an increasingly sophisticated appellation.
On Christmas day of 1998 three days after turning 50, Scott married long time sweetheart Ruth Worden, and in 2012, Ruth’s sister Kathy and her husband Albert became partners and now Fox Run is a family-owned winery.
The highly successful working relationship between Scott, Peter, and Vineyard manager John Kaiser has resulted in spectacular grapes, wines, and successful introductions of State-of-the-Art vineyard practices, keeping Fox Run Vineyards on the cutting edge of grape growing and winemaking.
Scott is constantly working to improve our environmental impact and has received the Lake Friendly Farm designation from Yates County Soil and Water Conservation. This award is given to farms whose farming practices do not negatively impact the water quality of Seneca Lake. He also installed a 151-Kilowatt solar system which provides 100% of the electrical needs for the winery, tasting room, and café. They have reduced their herbicide and pesticide use and are replacing them with organic and biological sprays that are less impactful on the environment.
He has been President of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail two times and a founding member and past President of Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, he is a founding member of the New York Wine Industry Association, which was founded in 2009 to represent the Wine Industry to educate legislators in Albany on issues that will impact our wineries and vineyards here in New York State. He was elected by his peers in the NY wine industry and is now the New York representative on the Board of Wine America, which is the national advocacy organization for the American Wine Industry in Washington DC.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Scott Osborn, owner of Fox Run Vineyards, joins us to talk about tourism from the perspective of a business owner. He discusses the new challenges and opportunities presented to wineries in the Finger Lakes, and he explains how tourism has impacted the wine business.
Scott Osborn is the owner of Fox Run Vineyards, a family-owned winery on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. As a business owner in a hot destination, Scott has to operate his winery with the big picture in mind. For instance, in his market, the average wine tasting visitor makes five stops. So, Scott and his team crafted Fox Run’s experiences around this pattern and other trends that travelers follow. But these patterns are constantly changing, which presents new opportunities and new challenges. In the latest episode of Destination on the Left Scott joins us to discuss the impact of tourism on his industry and he talks about tourism from a business owner’s perspective.
With some of the world’s most renowned vineyards located in California, many people develop a preconceived notion about what wine should taste like. But every region has a different style and the cool-climate wines of New York provide an entirely different experience. The Seneca Lake winemakers had to work together to get the word out about their region and their labels, and they are still doing it. But now there are breweries, cideries, and distilleries competing for traveler time and dollars as well. So, getting tourists to come to the Finger Lakes and make wine tasting a priority is a much larger challenge than ever before. When Scott Osborn started Fox Run Vineyards, there were about twenty wineries on Seneca Lake. Now, there are over one hundred producing quality and consistency that is appreciated by connoisseurs around the world. It has made it extremely difficult to stand out from the crowd and differentiate Fox Run from other wineries in the region.
In our last episode with Paul Soseman, we discussed the concept of experiential marketing in tourism. But it doesn’t always have to be labeled as such. Scott Osborn recognized the opportunity to strike an emotional reaction in his audience; not by forcing a clever campaign on them, but by inviting them to experience a different universe. He built the largest sculpture on Seneca Lake in the form of a massive gate. It draws attention from the main road into town, and when they cross the entrance, they are teleported into a new realm. To hear more about the story of Fox Run Vineyards, listen to the latest episode of Destination on the Left.
Paul Soseman is the founder and CEO of Department Zero, an experiential marketing agency based in Kansas City, MO.
Paul began his career 20 years ago, running the marketing department for a consumer electronics retailer where he oversaw a multi-million dollar advertising budget and created special events and promotions that ultimately became a primary driver of the retailers business. He then brought his event and retail experience to Road Runner, a then startup broadband internet service provider, where he created event marketing efforts to help educate consumers about the difference between dial-up and broadband internet speeds.
In 2003, Paul left the corporate world to start his own event marketing company. Since then, Department Zero has been at the forefront of the experiential marketing industry, producing more than 40,000 unique event activations for a mixture of agency and brand side clients across the travel/tourism, automotive, CPG, and apparel industries.
Paul leads the creative and strategic direction of the company, collaborating with client partners to design, plan + deploy live brand experiences and consumer activation programs that educate participants, amplify brand awareness, attract press coverage, and deliver quantifiable results.
Some of their typical work includes pop-up shops, roadshows, and mobile tours, college campus events, sponsorship activation programs, social media content experiences, as well as press, and retail-focused events.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Paul Soseman, founder and CEO of Department Zero, joins us to share his story. He discusses the topic of experiential marketing and he explains how DMOs can incorporate it into their marketing strategies to drive more results.
Paul Soseman is the founder and CEO of Department Zero, an experiential marketing agency based in Kansas City, MO. And while Paul has done projects across a wide range of verticals such as automotive, CPG, and apparel, he has started to make a significant impact on travel and tourism as well. In an industry based on experience and storytelling, experiential marketing is a powerful angle for engaging travelers in any destination. In the latest episode of Destination on the Left, Paul joins us to talk about the different ways DMOs can leverage experiential marketing tactics like pop-up shops, roadshows and mobile tours, college campus events, sponsorship activation programs, social media content experiences, and press and retail-focused events.
Department Zero has been running seventeen years strong and it has steadily transitioned from events to brand experiences. But experiential marketing is no longer just a trend, it is a staple in the marketing strategies of DMOs across the country. Brands are constantly trying to tell us about their products and services, but when a customer experiences them first hand, it resonates on a much deeper level. Destinations are seeing real results when they add destination marketing to their repertoire and social media is a major reason for this. Social media and experiential marketing are intertwined, and we want people to share their experiences for the world to see. Not only does experiential marketing lead travelers to create FOMO moments, but it sparks a reaction of user-generated content that markets your destination for you.
Whatever the experience is, it has to be designed around specific goals. And whether it’s generating leads, press coverage, or impressions, the experience and campaign must be built to achieve that goal. One example of this is the campaign Paul helped design for Lufthansa Airlines. They were introducing a new, direct-route between San Jose, CA and Frankfurt, DE, and they wanted to find a unique way to build awareness for the new route. Paul’s team created an interactive videogame experience that both educated travelers about Frankfurt and provided them with travel tips as well. And through a live feed with a flight attendant in Frankfurt, they gave out free first-class tickets on the new route, drawing a huge crowd. There are so many ways to interact with your target audience and leave an impression!
With more than 20 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, Kristen Jarnagin oversees the official regional organization charged with furthering Long Islands $6.1 billion tourism economy. A Long Island transplant from Arizona, Jarnagin’s vast knowledge of the tourism industry spans from state tourism marketing, branding a luxury resort and serving as a lobbyist for tourism advocacy.
Kristen and her team at Discover Long Island work to promote a positive perception of Long Island across the globe, which draws lucrative visitors, stirs business attraction and drives economic development throughout the region.
She’s twice been named one of the Top 50 Women in Business on Long Island and is a graduate from the acclaimed Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Her favorite pastime is discovering Long Island with her two daughters and reigniting the passion for this place we call home for Long Island natives.
In this episode of Destination on the Left, Kristen Jarnagin, President and CEO of Discover Long Island, joins us to explain how she and her team captured Long Island’s true story. She discusses their latest work and shares advice for using creativity and collaboration to solve difficult marketing challenges.
Kristen Jarnagin is the President and CEO of Discover Long Island, where she and her team work to promote a positive perception of Long Island across the globe. She may not be a New York native, but as an outsider, Kristen has taken a fresh perspective and a visitor’s lens to the marketing efforts of Discover Long Island. With experience in state tourism, hospitality, and the political sector, Kristen has seen almost every corner of the travel and tourism industry. She is a risk-taker and a talented marketer who is uncovering Long Island’s true story so the whole world can see it. On the latest episode of Destination on the Left, Kristen joins us to discuss her journey and talk about the art of collaboration and creativity in the travel and tourism industry.
It is easy to look at what other destinations are doing and think, “it worked for them; it will work for us too.” But Kristen believes the only way to achieve great success in destination marketing is to stay true to your voice. Long Island is different from every destination out there, so Discover Long Island put all of their energy into capturing that. To Kristen and her team, standing out means being themselves. And since Kristen is not a native, she sees the destination how a visitor would see it. You don’t have to redefine who you are, you just have to understand who you are. By listening to the community and articulating your destination’s true story, you can make an impact without reinventing the wheel.
Kristen and her team are finally telling Discover Long Island’s true story in their latest campaign, and it is all based around the idea that Long Island is not just a place to visit; it is a community. The campaign captures the distinct flavor of Long Island, the accent, the proximity to New York City, and a bunch of other factors that make it a one-of-a-kind destination. Whether you are a foodie, a historian, a beach bum, or anything else, Long Island is not a place you go to ‘do,’ it is a place you go to ‘be.’ Chances are your destination also has an amazing story to tell, so go out and discover it; then tell it wholeheartedly with authenticity.