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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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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/

Aug 16, 2023

Episode 343:

Tammy Blount-Canavan’s career has spanned 30+ years and two countries, including executive leadership at Tourism Vancouver, CEO of the Tacoma Regional CVB, architect and inaugural Chair of the Washington Tourism Alliance, President and CEO of the Monterey County CVB, and now President and CEO of Visit Seattle.

Tammy is a Past Chair of Destinations International. Tammy has been recognized as CEO of the Year, one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry, twice as one of the top 25 Most Influential Women in the Industry, Leadership Supplier of the Year in the Meetings Industry, Top 100 Most Inspirational Women in the Meetings Industry, CSUMBs School of Business 2018 Community Leader of the Year, won the Global Leadership Award from Destinations International and IMEX and in 2023 is being inducted into the Smart Women in Meetings Hall of Fame.

In this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Tammy Blount-Canavan about some of Visit Seattle’s ingenious campaigns, such as rain booths in Arizona and coffee shop takeovers, which embody the unique character of Seattle. She describes how the community built a city-wide selling strategy to expand the conventions market. Tammy also shares some of the community and wider partnerships they’re involved in and how they help make the tourism industry successful.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Some of the directions you can go in when you build a career in travel and tourism marketing
  • How Visit Seattle promotes the values of their community when they’re out and about at shows
  • Some of the creative ways they share more about their communities’ benefits including a rain booth in Arizona and coffee shop takeovers
  • The challenges that COVID-19 threw in Visit Seattle’s path and how they have overcome them by collaborating on a city-wide selling strategy
  • How they make partnerships successful by talking about what they want to accomplish, how they plan to get there, and how they make sure stakeholders have complementary skills

Innovative Marketing Experiences

We spotlight the innovative approach to destination marketing taken by Visit Seattle this week. Rather than solely relying on traditional tactics like purchasing ads and attending trade shows, they put a unique spin on destination marketing by creating fun and memorable experiences at events that underscore their core values.

Visit Seattle has a knack for adding creative twists to their campaigns; last summer, they introduced a ‘rain booth’ in California and Arizona. This structure sprinkled light rain, allowing people to experience Seattle’s famous ‘cozy season’ amidst the summer heat. Participants could even create their own movie posters as though they were in Seattle, sparking conversations about the city’s unique charm.

In addition to these fresh marketing strategies, Visit Seattle capitalizes on the wealth of local celebrities and athletes who take pride in sharing the story of their city. Their ongoing “I Know a Place” campaign features local residents expressing their love for Seattle and its hidden gems. This not only highlights iconic locations but also unveils lesser-known aspects of the city.

Exemplifying Core Values

We also discuss how Visit Seattle shares how their core values—innovation, creativity, and inclusivity— not only shape their city but also their marketing strategies. Inclusivity, for instance, is manifested through partnerships with Seattle Bank and Interventionalist, supporting traditionally underrepresented BIPOC-owned businesses.

Sponsorships enable people to experience these businesses firsthand, with Visit Seattle highlighting them in their campaigns. This demonstrates a proactive approach to diversity, actively working with these businesses to tell their stories instead of merely stating the presence of diversity.

Creativity is another cornerstone of Visit Seattle’s approach. The city boasts the title of the glassblowing capital of the world, second only to Italy, and hosts an annual festival named Refract, a month-long celebration of local and renowned glass artists. Along with Refract, they organize Cloudbreak, focused on music, and Museum Month, both of which showcase Seattle’s vibrant arts scene.

Their third core value, innovation, is encapsulated in Seattle’s identity as the birthplace of global tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon, retail powerhouse Costco, and numerous other innovative ventures. This value traces back to the World’s Fair six decades ago that birthed the iconic Space Needle, highlighting the city’s longstanding history of groundbreaking ideas. Their commitment to these values is exemplified in events like the recent Pride Parade, reinforcing that inclusivity in Seattle goes beyond words—it is deeply rooted in the population’s values. Through these unique approaches, Visit Seattle is not just selling a destination but narrating an authentic story of a community that thrives on innovation, creativity, and inclusivity.

Resources:

Aug 9, 2023

Episode 342:

Kurt Krause currently serves as the President and CEO of Visit Norfolk, joining in 2019. He is responsible for directing the effort to improve the quality of life for all residents through the economic and community benefits of tourism. His history in the hotel industry spans over 37 years, including 21 years with Marriott International, eight years with Aramark, and four years with Gold Key PHR. Arriving in Norfolk in 2014, he led the pre-opening efforts of Hilton Norfolk – The Main, followed by re-opening the historic Cavalier Hotel and Cavalier Beach Club in Virginia Beach.

As well as his career in the hotel industry, Kurt served our Country initially as a Loaned Executive for the Transportation Security Administration. As a founding member of the largest start-up of any private or public organization, he was specifically responsible for many of the consumer-oriented deliverables. For his effort in the participation of founding the agency, in addition to the consumer element, he was recognized with the Department of Transportation Distinguished Service Medal by Secretary Norman Minetta in 2002. Kurt then joined his alma mater, Virginia Tech, as Vice President of Business Affairs; responsibilities included Facilities, Personnel, VT Police Department, Department of Environmental Health and Safety Services, Office of the University Architect, and Real Estate Management.

On the personal side, after enjoying 20 years of playing amateur baseball (2003-2023), winning two national championships, Kurt found enjoyment on stage, participating in the Hampton Roads Dancing with the Stars, performing with the Virginia Opera, and with Hurrah Players in Annie (2018) and Dames at Sea (2019).

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Kurt Krause about how Visit Norfolk is revisiting a successful collaborative campaign from 2020 to see how they can apply those learnings to new need areas. He shares more about the “City with Bite” and how it has led to engagement with the local community in addition to visitors. Kurt also highlights current plans to tell the authentic history of Norfolk through a program called Pathways to Freedom, which tells the story of the Underground Railroad, recognizes the harrowing experiences of those who sought freedom, the individuals and institutions that aided them, and the historical locations that played a part in their journey.

 

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • What Visit Norfolk is doing to break through the noise of a crowded travel and tourism market, including a collaboration with Virginia Beach that generated $6 million of hotel business in the summer of 2020
  • How can we apply insights gained during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep us moving forward as DMOs in new periods of need
  • Why those that keep their marketing going and continue connecting with their audience, even when times are tough, recover faster when a crisis hits
  • How the “City with Bite” series started, how they produce and market it, and how they envision making it financially sustainable
  • Kurt shares one of the projects that Visit Norfolk is proud of right now, including how they recognize the city’s problematic history and sensitively tell the authentic story of enslaved people in the area

The “City with Bite” Initiative

Kurt discusses the often overlooked but crucial role residents play in destination marketing. It’s not solely about attracting out-of-town visitors but also engaging the locals in the activities and experiences the city offers. He shares more about the “City with Bite” initiative, a restaurant series now in its third season, which was invented to motivate residents to patronize local eateries again.

The “City with Bite” series has rejuvenated the local culinary scene and enhanced residents’ understanding and appreciation of the visitor economy. One distinctive feature of the “City with Bite” series is the inclusion of restaurant customers in their episodes. They are invited to share their experiences, reminiscences, and thoughts about the highlighted restaurants, fostering a deeper connection between the local community and the city’s gastronomic landscape.

Sharing Untold Stories

Kurt also shares some of the upcoming projects Visit Norfolk is undertaking that he’s particularly proud of. For the last two years, the team has been working on a project based on “Pathways to Freedom,” a book by Dr. Cassandra Newby Alexander that narrates the tale of the underground railroad in Norfolk. This venture aims to tell the untold stories of those who braved the perilous journey to freedom, a narrative often eclipsed by more popular accounts like those of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith.

Through this project, Visit Norfolk aims to shed light on the harrowing experiences of those who sought freedom, the individuals and institutions that aided them, and the historical locations that played a part in this journey.

One of the most fascinating things about this initiative is the use of augmented reality (AR) to bring these historical narratives to life. For example, the technology can help recreate the imagery of the tunnels under St. Mary’s Basilica, where the enslaved were known to escape. It can also show places such as the slave jail or warehouses that no longer exist. The goal here is to foster an understanding of the city’s history and how it has progressed, not perfectly but significantly, towards becoming a diverse and inclusive community.

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/

Aug 2, 2023

Episode 341:

This week the show is at Tap Dance, organized by the Travel Alliance Partners, where the focus is on the power of collaboration, connections, and partnerships in the travel and tourism industry.

Through conversations surrounding the Tap Dance 2023 travel conference and real-life experiences, my guests share a deep appreciation for the importance of working together, building strong relationships, and leveraging partnerships to create impactful travel experiences. From creating joint itineraries to forming pod partnerships, this episode explores how collaboration and teamwork can elevate the industry and provide operators with valuable pre and post-trip experiences. Get ready for an inspiring and informative discussion that highlights the transformative power of collaboration in the travel trade segment.

Insights from the Tap Dance

We hear from five amazing travel and tourism leaders, including Todd Reed, Tim Cave, Stacey Warren, Micheal Collins, and Marlene Smith, who provide insights on the Tap Dance show and partnerships in the industry.

Todd Read: Trade and Consumer Sales Manager at SoIN Tourism

“Collaboration is the key,” according to Todd. He discusses the importance of collaboration and partnerships in the industry and shares his experience of how trust and communication are crucial in building successful relationships with partners. Todd also emphasizes the value of attending travel conferences, such as Tap Dance, to network, exchange ideas, and learn from other professionals in the field.

Timothy Cave: Owner of ITG Travel

Timothy shares his own experience working with various partners and tour operators in Nebraska, emphasizing the need to go where the operators are and get to know people. He also talks about the benefits of attending shows and networking with others in the same line of work. Timothy believes leveraging partnerships and learning from others is crucial for success in the tour operator industry.

Stacey Warren: Director of Sales and Marketing at The Maine Tour Connection

Stacey talks about what partnership means to her, and why it’s the number one thing you need in this industry. She dives into a partnership she and neighboring DMOs have set up that enables visitors to learn more about Maine and the surrounding region. Stacey also highlights the significance of networking at events like Tap Dance, where industry professionals can learn from each other and exchange ideas.

Micheal Collins: Development Consultant at Nebraska Tourism Division

I loved hearing more about the collaboration between Nebraska and Wyoming and how they built an itinerary based on the Western heritage of cowboys and Native Americans. He also discusses why his word for Tap Dance is ‘wonderful’ because of its family feel and commitment to helping travel industry professionals build significant, long-lasting relationships.

Marlene Kay Smith: Group Sales Manager with Traverse City Tourism

Marlene describes why for her, partnerships are very much a two-way street, which sometimes might benefit one person more at one time, but which always even out in the end. She highlights the importance of respecting one another as fellow knowledgeable professionals. Marlene also talks more about Circle Michigan, a partnership that has lasted 40 years because everyone involved understands that they’re better together.

I hope you enjoyed the second episode of our special two-part series from Tap Dance, where we dive into the world of this unique travel conference, where collaboration, partnership, and connection are at its core. From intimate conversations and learning from colleagues in the tourism industry to exploring new trends and expanding networks, Tap Dance provides invaluable experiences and professional growth opportunities. I loved that our guests shared their insights on the importance of working together, forming strong relationships, and leveraging partnerships to create successful events and promote destinations.

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/

Jul 26, 2023

Episode 340:

This week I’m at Tap Dance, the annual travel conference hosted and produced by Travel Alliance Partners. Tap Dance is an intimate show that gives a select group of tour operator partners a chance to build genuine relationships with Preferred Professional Travel Providers.

I’m privileged to be able to talk to five experienced leaders in the travel and tourism sector and ask them about how shows like Tap Dance help empower them to do their job better. We also dive into what the word partnership means to them, and my guests offer an example of a partnership that works well for them. I can’t wait to share my guests’ words with you.

  • Lori J. Solomon: Vice President of Travel and Trade with the Sullivan Catskill Visitors Association
  • Libby Jones: Director of Education at Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial
  • Jim Walter: Vice President of Visit Cheyenne
  • Jill Shorkey: Director of Group Tours for Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Emily Hamill: Hospitality Coordinator at Old Sturbridge Village

Insights from the Tap Dance

I am excited to showcase the Tap Dance travel conference in this roadshow series because Travel Alliance Partners, one of my own businesses, is built to support collaboration and connection in the travel trade community.

Lori J. Solomon: Vice President of Travel and Trade with the Sullivan Catskill Visitors Association

Lori shares more about a collaborative program her organization is part of called Beyond the Big Apple, where they’re encouraging travelers to explore the area beyond New York City. She discusses the collaborative effort between the Catskills, central New York, and Hudson Valley and how putting together a two-week itinerary that showcases the best of the region helps domestic and international travelers explore the region.

Libby Jones: Director of Education at Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial

We dive into what partnership means to Libby and how she loves to work as a team to better achieve their goals. Her organization is a big fan of the phrase rising tide lifts all ships! She also shares more about how the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial are building a locale with the Independent Seaport Museum to make it easier for groups who visit both destinations.

Jim Walter: Vice President of Visit Cheyenne

Jim tells us how shows like Tap Dance help him be a better travel and tourism professional. He describes how working together and listening to how other people sell their destinations helps you learn and grow professionally. Jim also shares more about the Visit Cheyenne open-air rodeos, their new partners, and how they’re attracting a fantastic international audience.

Jill Shorkey: Director of Group Tours for Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau

I loved how Jill describes partnership as teamwork, listening, and an aligned vision for all of us to be together for the benefit of everyone. She also shares why her word of the show is ‘reverence’ and how as a first time Tap Dancer, she can feel the synergy with colleagues from all parts of the industry.

Emily Hamill: Hospitality Coordinator at Old Sturbridge Village

We talk about why networking is beneficial from a business and professional standpoint and why she’s enjoying making so many connections with her peers. We also dive into an example of a partnership that’s working for Old Sturbridge Village in their collaboration with the Table Three restaurant group that allows their guests to experience fine dining in a historical setting.

I hope you enjoyed this first episode of our special two-part series from Tap Dance. We delved into the world of this unique travel conference, where collaboration, partnership, and connection are at its core. From intimate conversations and learning from colleagues in the tourism industry to exploring new trends and expanding networks, Tap Dance provides invaluable experiences and professional growth opportunities. I loved that our guests shared their insights on the importance of working together, forming strong relationships, and leveraging partnerships to create successful events and promote destinations.

Stay tuned for the second part of our series, where we will continue to explore the magic of Tap Dance.

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/

Jul 19, 2023

Episode 339:

Santiago C. Corrada is an accomplished, recognized leader with over twenty-five years of public service experience, with proven success in effectively and efficiently transforming the professional culture of many diverse institutions. His outstanding relationship-building skills result in the resolution of highly complex issues through consensus. Corrada has the demonstrated ability to soundly and fiscally manage a convention center resulting in record surplus revenues. He has consistently elevated organizations to higher levels of productivity by empowering team members and stakeholders. Corrada is an intelligent, articulate, dedicated, loyal individual driven to serve and deliver the highest quality services.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Santiago Corrada about his leadership philosophy which includes fostering relationships, building a great team, and being a role model. We also discuss the importance of welcoming diverse audiences, and Santiago shares in detail how Visit Tampa Bay welcomes people of all abilities.

 

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Santiago’s atypical journey from high school principal to destination marketer
  • Why Santiago firmly believes that leadership is something that should benefit a team rather than stifle them
  • Why they decided to create a Tampa-based cookbook and how it supported an underappreciated sector of their community
  • Santiago’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and how they support individuals with impediments to travel at Visit Tampa Bay
  • What they’re doing to tell their story in a thoughtful, deliberate way and how they’re ensuring that the local community members are great hosts to visitors
  • What Santiago is looking for when he’s building his destination development plan and some of the important factors he likes to incorporate

Leadership at Visit Tampa

Santiago Carrera discusses leadership philosophy and why he enjoys being a mentor and leading by example at Visit Tampa Bay. He shares how his unusual journey into destination marketing has helped him understand the importance of engaging his own team and the wider community in their visitor attraction initiatives.

Santiago also shines a little light on the need for effective marketing and leadership in making a location stand out. Focusing on what they’re doing at Visit Tampa Bay, he mentions how his team’s efforts led to recognition from Time Magazine, money.com, and Forbes and how they helped put Tampa on the map as one of the best places in Florida to live and visit. Santiago believes that Visit Tampa Bay’s unique branding and collaborative approach differentiates their destination from other typical Florida destinations.

Shaping Your Own Narrative

In our talk on all things creativity and leadership in destination marketing, Santiago expanded on his viewpoint, explaining that the goal isn’t just about making Tampa or Tampa Bay stand out amongst competitors; it’s all about shaping the narrative your own way. He also gives a few examples of some of the innovative and creative approaches in marketing and sharing the uniqueness of their location with the world.

Committed to DEI

Santiago’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is a cornerstone of his leadership strategy. As one of the few Latino leaders of a DMO in the country, he has always prioritized diversifying his team, board of directors, and the portrayal of diverse, multicultural groups in their marketing imagery. It was, therefore, important to Santiago and his team to include imagery in their campaigns representing individuals with travel impediments.

Visit Tampa incorporated ambassadors and influencers who have travel impediments into their video creation and campaigns. This inclusive initiative has added another layer to their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, enriching their marketing strategy and further differentiating their destination.

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/

Jul 12, 2023

Episode 338:

Since 2001, Debra Ross has been publisher of KidsOutAndAbout.com, America’s online resource for families who want to know about all of the opportunities for kids in their local area, and (since 2016) of BeyondTheNest.com, for grownups who want to know about arts, culture, and recreation where they live. This web network has regional sites in 45 cities in the US and Canada, with (as of Feb 2023) 15 million visitors per year (85% parents, 15% grandparents, 82% women) and 750,000 recipients of a free weekly e-newsletter telling recipients what’s happening locally for kids, teens, and families.

Debra’s expertise is in community visibility and cheerleading, data analytics, and information resource management. She is Co-Chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Eclipse Task Force for the 2023 annular and 2024 solar eclipses and Chair of the Rochester Eclipse Task Force 2024.

Named after the iconic Angela Davis, Angela Speck likes bright colors, is a nerd at heart, and has wanted to be an astronaut since she was five years old. Originally from Yorkshire (England), she went to college in London, where she was able to pursue her childhood dreams by majoring in astrophysics. After a brief stint as an r&d technician in a Lancashire company run by crazy new-age hippies, she returned to London and completed a Ph.D. in astronomy. After a postdoc at the University of Illinois and 17 years on the faculty at the University of Missouri, she is now the Chair of the Physics & Astronomy Department at UT San Antonio. She has also been the co-chair of a national task force on solar eclipses since 2014. Throughout her career, she has pursued research and teaching of astrophysics and continues to share her passion for all things extra-terrestrial.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Angela Speck and Debra Ross about how they are preparing for the 2024 solar eclipse. We discuss how destination marketers can share information about eclipse events locally and nationally, and we cover lessons learned from the 2017 eclipse visitor data.

 

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How the upcoming eclipse can help create a sense of unity and connection within a community
  • Key marketing lessons learned from the 2017 eclipse and what DMOs can do differently in 2024
  • What communities can do to maximize the experience for locals and visitors
  • The importance of targeted outreach and educating people about the significance of the eclipse path, which is much more populated in 2024 than it was in 2017
  • How DMOs can leverage pre-existing stories and experiences to communicate the value of participating in the 2024 eclipse
  •  

Sharing Your Community Values

During her interview on the Destination on the Left podcast, Debra Ross shared a powerful anecdote about the town of Kingswood and their approach to the solar eclipse. With a strong sense of community, the town sent teenagers on bicycles to distribute eclipse glasses to residents and visitors, ensuring everyone could safely experience the event. This initiative showcased their commitment to inclusivity and creating a shared experience.

This highlighted how communities can demonstrate their true essence and foster a stronger sense of unity through how they present themselves to visitors. Debra is looking to convey a similar sense of unity and connection within her own community and has since been involved in helping other communities make their messaging fun, clever, and authentic in preparation for the 2024 eclipse.

Telling the Eclipse Story in 2024

On the podcast, Angela emphasizes the importance of targeted outreach and educating people about the significance of the eclipse path. So many people missed out on being within the path of the 2017 eclipse, and the upcoming 2024 eclipse is already a hot topic of conversation amongst the general population, not just the scientific community.

To help engage as many people as possible, DMOs should build upon pre-existing stories and experiences. By reinforcing the message that they are not starting from scratch, marketers can more effectively communicate the importance of being within the eclipse path and ensure that people understand the value of participating in the 2024 eclipse.

Resources:

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Jul 5, 2023

Episode 337:

President and CEO Danny Liedka is in his sixth year at the helm of Visit Syracuse, Onondaga County’s official tourism promotion agency. Visit Syracuse plays a critical role in the county’s economic development strategy through its focus to grow the area’s business of leisure tourism, meetings & conventions, sporting & special events, and film/television production.

Through his work, Danny has strengthened the organization’s ties with elected officials and community leaders to ensure resource development, overall strategic direction, and quality programming to the region. While under his leadership, the organization has successfully restructured to handle the effects of COVID-19 on the hospitality and tourism industry, moved into a new downtown office space, and brought in and expanded the Visit Syracuse Film Office. Liedka also has seen convention sales increase by nearly 85% during his tenure.

During Danny’s tenure, the Visit Syracuse organization has seen several major conventions return to the area and has undergone several marketing initiatives to better promote the region and partners, including a completely redesigned website, an increase in video production promotion, and a newly designed Visitors Guide.

Danny has several years of experience in a variety of tourism and hospitality roles, including Senior Sales Executive at Marriott International and Sales Manager at the Double Tree Hotel Syracuse. He holds several awards recognizing him for sports, sales, and marketing efforts.

Before joining Visit Syracuse, Danny was a former Onondaga County Legislator District 7 (2012-2017), having served as Chairman of the Health Committee, Budget Task Force, and Vehicle Use Review Board. In addition, he was the former mayor of the Village of East Syracuse (2007 – 2013). Danny has written award-winning legislation that addressed the quality of life in his Village. Danny is on the East Syracuse-Minoa School District Wall of Distinction for his contribution and achievements in the community. The Visit Syracuse president was also an on-air television commentator at Time Warner Cable Sports Channel, Big East Network, YES Network, and ESPNU, as well as a game radio host for Syracuse University Basketball on Clear Channel Radio. Danny is a recipient of the ACE Award, which is the cable television equivalent of an Emmy for excellence in sports broadcasting. Danny is also an ABCA Certified Professional Baseball Coach, Coaches at Sports Zone Baseball Academy, and is the current president of ESM Little League. He and his wife, Kim, and three children, Luke, Jack, and Hannah, and k9 partner Milla reside in East Syracuse.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Danny Liedka about the importance of showing the authentic experience of the destination through storytelling done by real people and how Visit Syracuse does that via their photo and video library. We also dive into how to forge tighter relationships with stakeholders and some transformational projects coming to Danny’s community right now.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How Danny went from a successful career in Politics to becoming the CEO of a destination promotion agency
  • The importance of building a mutually supportive relationship with stakeholders
  • Why learning to communicate effectively using the right language can help your organization access more opportunities
  • How Danny and his team put together proposals that helped Syracuse win recent transformational projects — the new aquarium, a road project that will change the walkability and accessibility of downtown, and a major employer choosing Syracuse as look the location for their new manufacturing facility
  • Why having the right people on your team is critical to your success

Building a Great Team

Creating a solid team and fostering a positive work atmosphere has been a priority for Danny as a leader. While he recognizes that Visit Syracuse may not always be able to compete with private sector jobs in terms of financial compensation, he believes that by going the extra mile for his employees, they can minimize the importance of money in their overall job satisfaction.

One way Visit Syracuse achieves this is by offering special perks and benefits, such as the ability to work from home. Danny explains why even before the COVID-19 pandemic, they had already implemented a remote work policy, which proved valuable when the crisis happened and allowed them to hit the ground running.

Showcasing Authentic Experiences

People crave genuine experiences and prefer seeing real individuals rather than staged content. When Danny and his team realized this, they decided to invest in various initiatives, such as professional photography and partnering with an agency that could help them source a vast collection of authentic images. By showcasing real-life experiences in Syracuse, they aimed to establish an emotional connection between their audience and their brand.

Recognizing the power of video as a storytelling medium, Danny made it a priority to excel in this area. If you explore Visit Syracuse’s recently launched website, you’ll notice a strong emphasis on video content, immersive experiences, and captivating narratives. This approach has allowed them to build a dedicated following and stay ahead of the curve, ensuring they are proactive rather than playing catch up with industry trends.

Danny’s Best Practices for Collaboration

When seeking the right partners, making everything about them and creating a likable connection is important. Show them a problem they may be unaware of and position yourself as the solution. Understanding their communication styles and needs, and adapting your approach accordingly, is crucial.

Effective communication and listening skills play a significant role in establishing successful partnerships. By embracing these principles and focusing on the partner’s needs, you can build strong relationships and achieve mutual success.

Resources:

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Jun 28, 2023

Lolita Jackmon is a highly accomplished professional who began her career in the hospitality industry, working for renowned hotels and airlines. With a deep-rooted passion for travel and a commitment to creating unforgettable experiences, she quickly established herself as an asset in the industry.

Driven by a desire to make a difference, Lolita transitioned into grant writing, focusing her efforts on increasing diversity in STEM majors through partnerships. Through her expertise in crafting winning programs and proposals, she successfully secured grants to promote inclusivity and empower underrepresented individuals to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

With a keen eye for detail and a talent for evaluating grant proposals, Lolita expanded her career by collaborating with grant funding organizations. Her meticulous evaluation of proposals ensured that resources were directed towards impactful initiatives, fostering innovation and societal change.

Lolita’s journey led her into a flourishing project management career, where she excelled in strategic planning, budgeting, and stakeholder engagement. Her ability to lead cross-functional teams and deliver projects successfully while maintaining a focus on quality and client satisfaction earned her widespread acclaim.

Motivated by her unwavering love for travel and her desire to help others experience the wonders of the world, Lolita embarked on the entrepreneurial path, founding her own travel business. Drawing from her expertise in the travel industry, grant writing, and project management, she is committed to curating exceptional travel experiences that leave a lasting impact while promoting sustainability and inclusivity.

As a multifaceted professional with extensive experience in hospitality, grant writing, and project management, Lolita brings a unique perspective to the travel industry. Through her writing, she strives to empower travel businesses with valuable insights, resources, and opportunities, enabling them to navigate challenges, embrace innovation, and contribute to the industry’s recovery and growth.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Lolita Jackman, who shares her passion for travel and where she looks for travel inspiration that enables her to help her clients with their dream vacations. We also do a deep dive into the topic of grant writing as Lolita walks us through the research initiation and planning phases of grant writing, shares some of her favorite tools, and warns of the pitfalls to watch out for when approaching grants.

 

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Key elements to consider when building a successful grant application
  • How Lolita built Global Gypsy Travel and what sets her approach apart from other travel agencies
  • The importance of planning and strategic partnerships when applying for and managing a grant
  • Strategies that you can use to find, evaluate, and apply for federal, state, and private grants
  • Benefits of working with a grant writing coach, and how can they help improve the success rate of grant applications

Collaborating to Achieve Your Goals

In this episode of Destination on the Left, Lolita shares her experiences and insights into the travel industry and grant writing, offering valuable tips and advice for those who are interested in pursuing either (or both!).

One of the key takeaways from this episode is the importance of collaboration. Lolita emphasizes the value of having partners in achieving your goals, whether in grant writing or consulting with clients. She also shares how her company Global Gypsy Travel allows for a wide range of options for clients.

Reach Out to Your Network

Collaboration is essential when it comes to grant applications — Lolita stresses the importance of finding potential partners and building a network when seeking grants. Not only does this help demonstrate a wide range of support for your project, but it can also open up opportunities for further collaboration and growth beyond the initial grant.

Successfully Applying for a Grant

Another valuable insight shared by Lolita is the importance of thorough planning and budgeting. She discusses how it can be tempting for applicants to assume that their chosen subject “should” be funded without properly explaining the issue and demonstrating why there is a need for it.

In order to build a successful case study and stand a chance at securing significant grants, proper planning and budgeting are essential. This includes identifying partners and creating a memorandum of understanding before submitting an application, and having a clear and thorough explanation of each item in the budget and how it will be used.

Resources:

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Jun 21, 2023

Dana Le is a healthcare innovation expert and Founder at Wander Health. She was previously on the Founding Team and Head of Operations at KidsX, one of the worlds leading digital health ecosystems focused on accelerating pediatric innovation. She built, designed, and managed the programming for the nation’s most prominent healthcare entrepreneurial programs. Prior to this role, she strategized innovative payment models at ECG Management Consultants and cofounded a community ventures program at Dell Medical School.

Dana received her Master’s of Health Administration from Columbia University and Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin. Dana was recently selected as a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Healthcare and a TEDx speaker.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Dana Le about how she came up with the idea for Wander Health and why talking to your customers is the best strategy for remaining relevant. We also discuss the intersection of healthcare and travel and the importance of having access to the right medical care when traveling.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Dana shares more about the evolution of her company and how she took Wander Health from idea to solution
  • She steps us through how she did her research into what travelers need from a health care plan
  • The problem with relying on a telehealth appointment with a US primary care physician or a credit card concierge
  • The three services that Wander Health provides and how people access care when they’re abroad
  • How using Wander Health can enhance the experience for a travel agent or tour operators customers
  • Dana discusses what a greenfield market is and shares her experience of innovating in the travel tech space

Staying Healthy When Traveling

In the latest episode of the #DOTL podcast, guest Dana Le sheds light on an issue that can be a huge concern for many travelers: the limitations of travel medical insurance. She shares her personal experiences, highlighting how she encountered this ongoing issue every time she went abroad.

One of the key insights Dana discovered was the alarming statistic that 40% of people fall ill or sustain injuries while traveling. Considering that approximately 81 million Americans traveled abroad last year, a staggering 33 million individuals face health challenges during their trips. This disruption is significant, regardless of whether people are traveling for business or leisure, as it dampens the overall experience.

How Wander Health Helps

Dana shares the three essential solutions Wander Health offers to address the limitations of travel medical insurance. Their booking service enables travelers to schedule urgent care appointments while abroad. The upcoming chat feature connects users with local doctors via text or WhatsApp, providing guidance on healthcare issues and medication queries.
Wander Health also allows travelers to search for and purchase over-the-counter medication equivalents, even offering delivery services. These comprehensive offerings ensure real-time care and support for individuals navigating healthcare needs while traveling.

Innovating in the Travel Healthcare Space

To foster innovation, it’s essential to listen to customers and understand their needs. Stagnation can be seen in industries like travel and healthcare, where customer experiences often fall short. However, companies that prioritize the customer and adapt to their needs, like certain airlines, can create exceptional experiences and build strong reputations. By actively seeking to improve and innovate, travel healthcare providers can make a significant impact on patients’ lives, even with small changes.

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/

Jun 14, 2023

Passionate about custom travel and creating unique travel experiences for his clients, Tom Casey is a longtime expert on travel to Ireland and the British Isles and, more recently, has explored many regions of Scandinavia—including Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. Tom runs Old Sod Travel along with helping manage Scandinavian Travel.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Tom Casey about the business strategies that have made his travel companies successful, including focusing on your niche, hiring and nurturing a good team, and building reliable partnerships overseas. We also discuss how his business weathered the challenges of the pandemic to make 2023 their best year yet.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Why Tom left the corporate world at age 50 to run his own business
  • How Tom’s companies have evolved over time and why finding the right niche was of huge importance to their core business strategy
  • Tom’s team’s commitment to creating exceptional travel experiences and how it really differentiates his company
  • What Tom is doing right now to make 2023 his strongest year yet, and the unique, authentic features of their brand
  • Some of the fabulous partnerships Tom has built with suppliers in Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia

Fine Tuning Your Niche

One of the key strategies that has fueled the growth of Tom Casey’s business is finding and honing in on a specific niche. Tom emphasizes the importance of fine-tuning what you want to do and excelling at it. This approach has allowed his company to focus more on delivering exceptional client experiences.

Old Sod Travel and Scandinavian Travel prioritize providing high-quality vacations, and because of this, they often invest in sending employees to business meetings and conferences in Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia, enabling them to gain firsthand experience and build confidence in selling their offerings to potential travelers. The positive feedback in the form of five-star reviews further reinforces the company’s commitment to delivering outstanding vacations and fuels their passion to continue excelling in their niche.

A Committed Team

Tom Casey’s business model includes a unique approach to his team, which has evolved over time. Initially, he hired stay-at-home mothers due to budget constraints, and one of them eventually became his business partner. They recruited friends with similar backgrounds, creating a social and enjoyable work environment. The workforce genuinely cares about clients and understands the travel style they sell, which aligns with their own experiences. This inherent understanding makes it easier for them to recommend luxury accommodations and convince clients that the extra expense is worth it for a truly satisfying experience.

Truly Customizable Tours

The flexibility granted to employees, such as working a few hours in the morning to communicate and collaborate, allows for customization and personalized trip planning. Unlike other companies that claim customization but offer limited options, Tom’s team goes the extra mile, traveling with clients and making themselves available whenever needed. Their commitment to building relationships and providing comfort to nervous first-time travelers sets them apart from the competition.

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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