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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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Apr 14, 2021

Amir Eylon is the President, CEO, and Partner of Longwoods International and a thirty-two-year veteran of the Travel & Tourism industry. Amir leads the entire team responsible for developing and executing all facets of the organization, from program development to customer acquisition and retention. He joined Longwoods in 2015 from his previous role as Vice President, Partner Engagement with Brand USA, the public-private partnership serving as the destination marketing organization dedicated to increasing international visitation to the US. He led the team responsible for increasing Brand USA’s partnership base and ensuring that participants received excellent service throughout Brand USA’s deployment of joint marketing programs.

During his tenure, Brand USA grew its base to 475 partners, composed of destination marketing organizations, convention and visitor bureaus, attractions, travel brands, airlines, and tour operators. Prior to joining Brand USA, Amir served as Director of the Ohio Office of Tourism. Under his leadership, the state’s marketing programs realized a tremendous return on investment and contributed to the growth of the state’s $40 billion tourism economy. The programs he developed leveraged industry and nontraditional partnerships that generated $14 in new state and local taxes for every $1 invested and included active participation by thousands of Ohio’s tourism-related businesses.

Amir has also served as Executive Vice President of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, Assistant Director of the Ohio Tourism Division, and Sales & Marketing Manager with the Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau. He has been recognized with a number of Industry honors, including Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing award (2014) by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI); The Ohio Tourism Industry’s Highest Honor, The Paul Sherlock Award; and The State of Ohio Distinguished Service Medal.

Amir’s thought leadership in tourism is often quoted by media, and he has appeared in dozens of interviews among many national media outlets, including CNBC, MSNBC, Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, etc
Amir holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, we welcome back Amir Eylon, President, CEO, and Partner of Longwoods International, who first appeared on the podcast in April 2020. We reflect on the travel trends over the last 12 months, as revealed by research conducted by Longwood International’s Traveler Sentiment Trackers. Amir also speaks to the expectations of the newly conditioned traveler and what first trips will look like for many Americans after a year of shutdowns. He also explores the data on opportunities that can be found for DMOs with the return of day-trippers.

What You Will Learn:

  • What recent data from the Traveller Sentiment Trackers shows, and why the outlook for travel is optimistic
  • Where and why people are traveling – including the most popular domestic destinations
  • Traveler opinions on safety and cleanliness protocols in the communities they visit
  • Why the resurgence of the day trip meant that overall volume wasn’t as low as expected over the last 12 months
  • Newly conditioned traveler expectations and how DMOs can ensure they are catering to the increased desire to feel safe when making bookings
  • Why it is essential to understand the importance of focusing on promotions rather than deep discounts

Understanding Travel Plans in the New Normal

Amir and Longwoods International were motivated to start their Travel Sentiment Trackers in March 2020 by a desire to help the entire travel industry. The data that their research has circulated has been invaluable in understanding how the American traveler feels about vacationing in this new normal and how DMOs can best serve them going forward. He discusses why overall volume in the US wasn’t as low as the travel industry expected and explains which domestic destinations have proved to be the most popular over the last year and why.

Traveler Expectations in 2021

Amir digs into the expectations of newly conditioned travelers and why destinations need to be mindful not to roll back their cleanliness and flexibility protocols too quickly. He also addresses the new-found popularity of the day trip and how destination marketers can leverage those first visitors to promote their community and popularise short overnight breaks. The data shows that clarity will remain an important part of what visitors expect when researching destinations in the future and how communities can ensure that travelers feel safe by continuing to be transparent about precautions still in place to protect guests.

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/

 
Apr 7, 2021

Jennifer Wesselhoff is the President & CEO of the Park City Chamber of Commerce | Convention & Visitors Bureau (Chamber/Bureau). She has served in the position since October 2020.

The Park City Chamber/Bureau is responsible for the marketing and management of Utah’s preeminent luxury tourism destination, driving revenues in excess of $1 billion annually. Park City is home to the Sundance Film Festival, the nation’s largest independent film event. The town’s two ski resorts served as major event sites for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and the Utah Olympic Park continues to attract Olympians to Park City for high-altitude training. The town also is the headquarters for the US Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA). Park City hosts ski and snowboarding world championships on an annual basis and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has selected Utah for its next Winter Olympic bid in 2030. More than two million skiers hit the local slopes each year at both Park City Mountain, featuring the nation’s largest ski terrain, and Deer Valley Resort, consistently rated amongst the top ski resorts in North America. In summer months, more than one million visitors flock to Park City for hiking, blue-ribbon fly-fishing and biking on its 400-mile trail system.

Prior to arriving in Park City, Jennifer was CEO/President of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, which she joined in 2007. During her tenure, she led Sedona, Arizona to national recognition as a destination. Jennifer guided the Sedona Chamber’s accreditation as a Destination Management Organization, led the development of Arizona’s first Sustainable Tourism Plan, and saw tourism grow to become Sedona’s largest industry, with a $1 billion annual impact and 10,000 tourism-related jobs. She most recently represented the region on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force. Jennifer developed and launched successful brand strategies for Sedona, including the “Sedona, the Most Beautiful Place on Earth” campaign and the “Find Your Room to Play” campaign.

Jennifer is a Certified Destination Management Executive with Destination Marketing Association International and is a frequent speaker and consultant on sustainable tourism best practices. She was the former Sedona Certified Film Commissioner with the Association of Film Commissioners International.

Before joining the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, Jennifer taught English in Japan and spent three years in the hospitality industry in Interlaken, Switzerland. She is conversant in three foreign languages and holds bachelor’s degrees in French and Communications from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. When Jennifer and her husband Rick are not running, biking and hiking, they enjoy cooking and traveling with friends.

Destination on the Left is joined by Jennifer Wesselhoff, the President and CEO of the Park City Chamber of Commerce, Convention, and Visitors Bureau. On our podcast, Jennifer shares her passion for sustainable tourism and talks about the steps you can take to implement it in your own community. She teaches us what DMOs can do to better communicate with their communities and grow the destination organically. And she also explains how the pandemic has provided destinations with an opportunity to rethink tourism for years to come.

What You Will Learn:

  • Jennifer’s journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • Jennifer’s passion for sustainable tourism and the steps you can take to implement it in your own community
  • How to balance the four pillars of sustainable tourism
  • Why DMOs need to put more focus on communicating with their residents and local communities
  • How the pandemic has provided destinations with an opportunity to rethink tourism
  • Attracting quality vs. quantity when it comes to visitors

The Park City Chamber of Commerce, Convention, and Visitors Bureau

Destination on the Left is joined by Jennifer Wesselhoff, the President and CEO of the Park City Chamber of Commerce, Convention, and Visitors Bureau. On our podcast, Jennifer shares her passion for sustainable tourism and talks about the steps you can take to implement it in your own community. She teaches us what DMOs can do to better communicate with their communities and grow the destination organically. And she also explains how the pandemic has provided destinations with an opportunity to rethink tourism for years to come.

Becoming a Leader in the Pandemic

Jennifer started her journey in Park City in October of 2020—an interesting time to say the least. Starting a new position, with new people, in a new organization is enough to test any leader, let alone when it is taking place in a remote work environment. Jennifer, however, brings a ton of experience to the table, and she was able to find her stride quickly through the use of creativity and collaboration. Her passion for sustainable tourism has helped her develop those skills day in and day out, and it is a concept we can all benefit from exploring in our own organizations and communities.

The Four Pillars of Community

Jennifer defines sustainable tourism as a way to balance the four pillars of the community, and it lifts up everyone who is apart of it. The pillars are: creating and retaining a vibrant economy, the visitor experience, impact on quality of life, and protecting the environment. While Jennifer always took a data-driven approach to destination marketing, the four pillars of community helped her reshape the lens with which she looked at the data. It gave her a new perspective for addressing unique challenges within the community, and it provided her with an opportunity to partner with other organizations and businesses in the region to solve those challenges. Sustainable tourism is something any destination can adopt to transform the core principles of the community, and there is so much to gain from it.

Mar 31, 2021

As Founder and President, Jennifer Hawkins has overseen the growth of Hawkins International Public Relations from a one-woman start-up to a major player in public relations, media relations, and digital communications for the luxury travel and lifestyle industries. Yet even as the agency has grown to more than 30 employees, maintained a robust roster of world-class international clients, expanded with a Los Angeles office, and launched a new division focused on wellness and beauty,

Jennifer remains committed to the boutique and approachable culture she first shaped at the start back in 2002.

“I want to maintain our spirit of creativity and proactivity in everything we do,” she says, explaining that assembling diverse leadership and talent is key to Hawkins International’s ingenuity and maneuverability. Jennifer’s commitment to relevancy encompasses not just current trends in hospitality and wellness, but making certain that the agency is technologically on par and on top of the changing media landscape. She was behind the company’s embrace of social media that created a vibrant division offering influencer relations, social media activation and training, content strategy, and video integration services.

“We celebrate luxury travel and wellness lifestyles through polished personalized attention to our clients and to the media alike,” Jennifer continues. “My role is to bring in interesting clients who are a pleasure for us to collaborate and do business with. That keeps our PR team inspired, our culture dynamic, and our clients squarely in the news.”

Jennifer fell for travel as a girl traveling with a Eurail Pass through Europe with her father. A veritable globetrotter with more than 50 countries across 6 continents stamped on her passport, she long ago gleaned that travel isn’t just about the visitor’s experience – it’s also about providing a real economic impact to countless destinations. She never thought Hawkins International would grow as it has – “I call myself the accidental entrepreneur” – but she has enjoyed the journey. “I can honestly say the majority of clients we’ve signed have come because of our reputation, and they stay because they know we will innovate and deliver.”

Destination on the Left is joined by Jennifer Hawkins, Founder and President of Hawkins international Public Relations and Maverick Creative. Jennifer is a self-proclaimed travel and tourism nerd, working with luxury hotels, spas, resorts, and start-ups through her agencies. On our podcast, Jennifer shares highlights from her recently released Trend Hawk Report. She explains what increased spending on social media means for our industry, how national brands are integrating with local communities, and what our industry can do to prepare for recovery.

What You Will Learn:

  • How Jennifer impacts the travel industry through Hawkins International and Maverick Creative
  • Highlights from Jennifer’s recently released Trend Hawk Report
  • What increased spending on social media means for the travel and tourism industry
  • How national brands are integrating with the local community through the pandemic
  • What businesses in the travel industry need to do to prepare for the recovery

HIPR and Maverick Creative

Destination on the Left is joined by Jennifer Hawkins, Founder and President of Hawkins international Public Relations and Maverick Creative. Jennifer is a self-proclaimed travel and tourism nerd, working with luxury hotels, spas, resorts, and start-ups through her agencies. On our podcast, Jennifer shares highlights from her recently released Trend Hawk Report. She explains what increased spending on social media means for our industry, how national brands are integrating with local communities, and what our industry can do to prepare for recovery.

The Trend Hawk Report

Continuing the theme of 2020, 2021 is already fairly unpredictable. In order to get a handle on what we can expect for this year, data collectors/aggregators like Jennifer have kept an eye on travel and tourism trends that best represent where the industry is headed. Jennifer and her team have measured the impact of social media use in the travel industry as it correlates to social media spend. They have explored the tangential spikes in local business as local travel takes precedence. And they have looked into the overall change in human behavior/communication in relation to travel. We need to keep tabs on all of these trends as the country continues to reopen, so click here for more information.

Setting the Pace for 2021

From hi-tech wellness experiences to digital marketing strategy, there are a lot of trends surfacing in the pandemic that will be differentiators for years to come. Research shows that in times of crisis, companies that adapt, pivot, and invest in their employees tend to come out stronger when the economy returns. In addition, companies that create, innovate, and collaborate with other competitors in their verticals/regions finding tons of new ways to generate revenue and foot traffic during the pandemic. With vaccines being distributed and some semblance of normalcy in sight, it is important that we do everything we can, with everyone we can, to hit the ground running in the recovery phase.

 
Mar 24, 2021

In retirement, Loren is privileged to be applying her experiences and skills to the most important and long-lasting project in which she ever has been involved: the development and construction of a nature trail designed specifically for visitors with autism spectrum disorder and related conditions — located in Letchworth State Park, recently voted the #1 state park in the country AND #1 attraction in New York State!

Destination on the Left is joined by Loren Penman, a retired educator working full time to bring the Autism Nature Trail to fruition. Our agency, Break the Ice Media, is the marketing partner assisting with the public fundraising phase of the capital campaign, which will make the Autism Nature Trail a reality. On our podcast, Loren explains how the trail was first conceived, and how a volunteer group took it from concept to project. She also talks about how the campaign was able to reach its goals in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic. The story of the Autism Nature Trail is a perfect example of what can be accomplished with the use of collaboration and creativity.

SPECIAL NOTE: Since the recording of this episode, Loren has shared some exciting news with us! The official, COVID-style groundbreaking for The Autism Nature Trail (The ANT) at Letchworth State Park took place on February 19, 2021, and the Trail is on schedule to open later this year.

Also, the ANT has launched a two-month GoFundMe Charity Campaign to fund the Celebration Station — the last stop on the Trail — in honor of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (March) and Autism Awareness Month (April). Please consider contributing to this worthy cause! The link to make fully tax-deductible donations is: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/celebrate-inclusion-and-nature-for-all

What You Will Learn:

  • Loren’s background and involvement with the Autism Nature Trail
  • What the Autism Nature Trail is, and how it got started
  • How our team has been able to get involved with the public fundraising phase of the ANT
  • How Loren and her team took the project from concept to reality
  • How creativity and collaboration were used to help the campaign reach its goal in spite of challenges posed by the pandemic
  • What Loren did to overcome the challenges of a public-private sector collaboration
  • Where the project is now, and where it is heading

The Autism Nature Trail

Destination on the Left is joined by Loren Penman, a retired educator working full time to bring the Autism Nature Trail to fruition. Our agency, Break the Ice Media, is the marketing partner assisting with the public fundraising phase of the capital campaign, which will make the Autism Nature Trail a reality. On our podcast, Loren explains how the trail was first conceived, and how a volunteer group took it from concept to project. She also talks about how the campaign was able to reach its goals in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic. The story of the Autism Nature Trail is a perfect example of what can be accomplished with the use of collaboration and creativity.

Broadening the Appeal

Loren and her community are finally ready to construct a one-mile looped trail with eight sensory stations in Letchworth State Park—this is the Autism Nature Trail or ANT for short. The ANT is a first-of-its-kind experience that started with a singular slant toward individuals on the spectrum, but it has since expanded to become a totally ADA compliant nature trail for all to enjoy. The special characteristics that make this trail perfect for the original target have a broad appeal to everyone. Our team was lucky enough to help share that message with the surrounding community so Loren and her team could realize their dream.

From Concept to Reality

From a simple, inspirational conversation in Letchworth to a fully-funded private-public project, Loren had her work cut out for her from the start. In order to take this project from concept to reality, she had to address a number of different challenges that required support from the community and local government. Once she had the ear of the right people, Loren managed to raise every dollar they needed through private donations so the park could be operated safely and effectively. This was a $3.7M feat, and they structured the park with the future in mind. From design and build to maintenance and management, this project is blessed with the expertise of many different professionals. This is creativity and collaboration at its finest, and even a pandemic hasn’t been able to stop the momentum they’ve created.

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/

Mar 17, 2021

Kris Kelso is a keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and is the author of Overcoming The Impostor: Silence Your Inner Critic and Lead with Confidence.

Trained and certified as an executive coach, Kris has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, business owners, and their leadership teams. He is an advisor and instructor at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, is a Facilitator / Coach with The Alternative Board, and is a contributing writer for The Nashville Business Journal.

Kris has founded multiple companies and has served on the boards of directors of several non-profit organizations. He lives with his wife and three teenaged sons in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee.

Destination on the Left is joined by Kris Kelso, a keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and the author of “Overcoming the Imposter.” On our podcast, Kris discusses the topic of imposter syndrome, a complex causing you to believe you’re not good enough and that you’ll somehow be exposed as a fraud. Nicole covered this previously on Episode #141, but it is a topic that couldn’t possibly get enough airtime. During our conversation, Kris explains how to overcome insecurity and self-doubt so you can avoid the comparison trap that leads to imposter syndrome. Kris also provides practical examples and strategies for recognizing and stopping the imposter.

What You Will Learn:

  • What imposter syndrome is, and how it affects us as leaders
  • The fundamental framework of Kris’s recent book, “Overcoming the Imposter”
  • How to overcome insecurity and self-doubt so you can avoid the comparison trap that leads to imposter syndrome
  • Practical examples and strategies for recognizing and stopping the imposter
  • How to turn imposter syndrome from a liability to an asset
  • The prevalence of imposter syndrome in the travel and tourism industry

Insecurity and Self-Doubt in Leadership

Destination on the Left is joined by Kris Kelso, a keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and the author of “Overcoming the Imposter.” On our podcast, Kris discusses the topic of imposter syndrome, a complex causing you to believe you’re not good enough and that you’ll somehow be exposed as a fraud. Nicole covered this previously on Episode #141, but it is a topic that couldn’t possibly get enough airtime. During our conversation, Kris explains how to overcome insecurity and self-doubt so you can avoid the comparison trap that leads to imposter syndrome. Kris also provides practical examples and strategies for recognizing and stopping the imposter.

Overcoming the Imposter

Kris was inspired to write his recent book, “Overcoming the Imposter,” because so many leaders struggle with imposter syndrome. He defines imposter syndrome as the tendency to overvalue the accomplishments of others and doubt the reality of your own accomplishments or success. Nearly 70% of the population experiences imposter syndrome at some point in their careers, and it is even more prevalent among high achievers. It is almost universal among entrepreneurs, but it doesn’t get talked about often because people are afraid to discuss their doubts and insecurities. Kris wrote his book to surface this conversation and show others how to turn imposter syndrome from a liability to an asset.

From a Liability to an Asset

Imposter syndrome is a psychological concept, which means it is largely something you can control. By shifting your perception around imposter syndrome, you can turn it into something beneficial. When you are in a situation where you’re surrounded by brilliant minds, take note of the thoughts and feelings that are coursing through your mind. Remember them, because they are signaling you’re in the right place. Remember the old saying that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re probably in the wrong room? The feelings of discomfort and doubt can be turned into excitement and anticipation depending on how you perceive them.

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/

Mar 10, 2021

Michelle Carlen is the Founder & President of Alignment Advising. With over two decades of career experience, she is dedicated to helping businesses by creating long-term strategy, growing sales and revenue, implementing process improvements, developing organizational infrastructure, and improving the client and employee experience. She also helps individuals advance their professional development and gain clarity, confidence, and direction along their career paths. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

With professional experience in hospitality, travel, tourism, and property management, Carlen has cultivated a diverse expertise in representing and supporting a variety of business types and managing teams from: attractions, boutique inns, corporate brand hotels, destinations, museums, restaurants, small retail stores, travel agencies, tour companies, homeowner associations, and non-profit specialty organizations.

Carlen applies her unique ability to dial into what prevents businesses and individuals from attaining optimum performance and has a passion for translating those findings into strategic planning and practical solutions. She quickly pulls direction and establishes order from parts that seemingly don’t connect and brings them into superior working alignment.

Destination on the Left is joined by Michelle Carlen, the Founder & President of Alignment Advising. Michelle is dedicated to helping businesses with long term strategy, revenue growth, process improvements, and organizational infrastructure. On our podcast, Michelle talks about leadership development, transition management, and the importance of stepping back to gain a better understanding of the big picture. Michelle shares insights about adopting a growth mindset and leadership strategies that will help us excel. And she also shares specific examples of collaboration through her experience as the leader of a CVB.

What You Will Learn:

  • Michelle’s perspective on leadership development, transition management, and the importance of stepping back to gain a better understanding of the big picture
  • Michelle’s experiences with collaboration as the leader of a CVB
  • How Michelle helps travel businesses with long term strategy, revenue growth, process improvements, and organizational infrastructure
  • Michelle’s insights about adopting a growth mindset and leadership strategies that will help us excel in 2021
  • Why adversity can often lead to opportunities

Alignment Advising

Destination on the Left is joined by Michelle Carlen, the Founder & President of Alignment Advising. Michelle is dedicated to helping businesses with long term strategy, revenue growth, process improvements, and organizational infrastructure. On our podcast, Michelle talks about leadership development, transition management, and the importance of stepping back to gain a better understanding of the big picture. Michelle shares insights about adopting a growth mindset and leadership strategies that will help us excel. And she also shares specific examples of collaboration through her experience as the leader of a CVB.

Professional Development in the Travel Industry

Whether you are apart of a DMO, a CVB, or one of the many businesses that make up the travel and tourism ecosystem, there are a number of different ways to approach professional development. First and foremost, you need to adopt a sense of vulnerability and humility. You don’t know everything, regardless of what your title says, and being vulnerable will earn the respect of your team members. In addition, you must work on being open-minded, improving your communication, and taking advantage of the many tools out there to hone your leadership skills.

Keep Your Strategy Fresh

As leaders in any type of travel-related organization, you are also responsible for making difficult decisions on a strategic level. One mistake that many leaders of DMOs CVBs make is repeating what they did the year before with minor changes. After making it through 2020, it goes without saying that the things that worked one year are not necessarily going to work the next. There are way too many undeveloped markets and untapped targets to go after to be using the same stale marketing strategy you’ve been using for years. Through innovation and collaboration, you can grow your destination to new heights regardless of how the circumstances change.

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/

Mar 3, 2021

Heather Bagshaw joined Greene County Tourism over seven years ago and loves being back in her hometown sharing all the great things she adored growing up. Her role in the tourism industry fostered over the past five years, from being an active board participant and President of both the Catskills and Hudson Valley Regions to sitting on the Board of Directors for New York State Tourism Industry Association and now her recent position as a Board Member on the Wine Water and Wonders Board of Directors.

Destination on the Left is joined by Heather Bagshaw, the Tourism Director of both Greene County and the Northern Catskills in New York State. On our podcast, Heather and I talk about how tourism can attract new residents and businesses to a community. We explore how Greene County positions itself within the Catskills region by highlighting its unique lodging properties and all-inclusive resorts. And we also talk about the silver linings in travel and tourism that came out of the global pandemic.

What You Will Learn:

  • Heather’s journey into travel and tourism
  • How tourism can attract new residents and businesses for a community
  • How Greene County positions itself within the Catskills region
  • How Green County leverages its unique lodging and all-inclusive resorts
  • The silver linings in travel and tourism that came out of the global pandemic
  • How Heather has used creativity and collaboration to drive traffic to Green County and the Northern Catskills

Greene County and the Northern Catskills

Destination on the Left is joined by Heather Bagshaw, the Tourism Director of both Greene County and the Northern Catskills in New York State. On our podcast, Heather and I talk about how tourism can attract new residents and businesses to a community. We explore how Greene County positions itself within the Catskills region by highlighting its unique lodging properties and all-inclusive resorts. And we also talk about the silver linings in travel and tourism that came out of the global pandemic.

Attracting Residents and Businesses

Greene County and the Northern Catskills draw a lot of tourist traffic from the New York City Metro Area. In the last two years, however, there has been a surge of Brooklynites as well. City dwellers from the five boroughs are not only coming as visitors, but they are also opening businesses in the region as well. This has had a significant impact on both tourism and economic development. Residents of Greene County are embracing newcomers and the unique flavors they bring to the community, and this has played a significant role in the region’s growth.

Create Unique Travel Experiences

The organic traffic flow has transformed Greene County already, but Heather has also done a terrific job using creativity and collaboration to better position Greene County within the Catskills. All-inclusive family resorts are a major draw in Greene County, and these resorts continue to attract the same families for generations. But travelers also want to have travel experiences that no one else has had before. Greene County’s unique lodging such as the “Treetopia” RV ground and the tiny home resort offer tourists the opportunity to create a memorable travel experience, unlike any vacation they’ve had before.

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

Feb 24, 2021

Taking an unusual path to the travel and tourism industry, Lisa’s background is in marketing and operations. Working for a large corporation in product marketing and then working as an Executive Director for a technology association set the groundwork for her current role as Executive Director for Travel Alliance Partners, a corporation owned by Tour Operators.

Lisa leads the management team in developing operational and marketing strategies to help Travel Alliance Partners strengthen their partnerships, increase their business and expand their company tour portfolios.

The past year has found Lisa and her team reimagining how they can deliver a quality travel industry conference to TAP’s audience of industry suppliers.

Destination on the Left is joined by Lisa Doerner, Executive Director for Travel Alliance Partners. TAP is a North American corporation owned by tour operators from the U.S. and Canada, each with their own unique geographical expertise. On our podcast, Lisa joins us to talk about how TAP has been supporting its tour operators and PPTPs throughout the pandemic. She also discusses the creativity and collaboration behind the live event her team is producing in 2021, as well as how it will ignite travel this year and beyond.

What You Will Learn:

  • Lisa’s journey into travel and tourism
  • What Lisa and her team have done to support tour operators throughout the pandemic
  • How TAP maintains relationships with PPTPs or preferred, professional, travel providers
  • How tap has used innovation and cutting edge thinking to help tourism professionals survive the pandemic
  • How TAP’s virtual event platform has enabled tour operators and their partners to continue developing relationships
  • The live event TAP is producing in 2021, and how it will ignite travel this year and beyond
  • How we can work together during the recovery of the travel and tourism industry

Travel Alliance Partners

Destination on the Left is joined by Lisa Doerner, Executive Director for Travel Alliance Partners. TAP is a North American corporation owned by tour operators from the U.S. and Canada, each with their own unique geographical expertise. On our podcast, Lisa joins us to talk about how TAP has been supporting its tour operators and PPTPs throughout the pandemic. She also discusses the creativity and collaboration behind the live event her team is producing in 2021, as well as how it will ignite travel this year and beyond.

TAP’s Coopetition Model

As the travel and tourism industry starts to return from the pandemic, collaboration is a critical component of recovery. TAP has always been way ahead of its time with innovation and collaboration, as they have been a focus since the organization’s inception in 2001. Their original business model was designed to bring competitors together so that everyone’s business could grow. That mode of operation continues today as the 15-25 tour operators in TAP buy and sell each other’s products and services to generate more tourism dollars for everyone.

Going Virtual

Since TAP is a company of tour operators, many of its team members saw departures for 2020 halt entirely. As they manage rebookings and try to stay afloat until travel fully reopens again, TAP has done everything in its power to support them. Early on, Lisa made the decision to host one of the travel industry’s first virtual events. TAP brought together a broad spectrum of tour operators and the PPTPs to create a platform through which they could continue to develop relationships. It was met with some resistance at first, but virtual vents are now the gold standard for tourism professionals in all kinds of verticals. TAP’s approach to collaboration and innovation has helped many tour operators navigate the challenges of the pandemic, and there is a lot we can learn from it.

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

 
Feb 17, 2021

Jennifer Lazarz has worked with the City of Gallup for over five years, four of which have been as the Tourism and Marketing Manager. Jennifer’s projects with the City of Gallup include the execution of the 2015 LEDA Grant for Historic Theatres at the historic El Morro Theatre, serving on the team for design and implementation of the GallupRealTrue tourism brand, coordinating the Gallup Native Arts Market with the Native Artists Commission, design of gallupnativeartsmarket.org. In addition, she manages the marketing, PR, sales, lodgers tax fund, and long-term tourism development of the City’s Tourism initiatives. COVID-19 mixed things up and Jennifer also acted as the Public Information Office for COVID and ran the CARES Small Business Grant Program for Gallup, New Mexico. Jennifer is currently the treasurer on the board of the Community Pantry, a local non-profit ensuring no mother’s child goes hungry in McKinley and Cibola Counties in New Mexico. Prior to her time in Gallup Jennifer worked in the arts as a professional opera singer for multiple companies and as an arts administrator for Chicago Dance, Land of Enchantment Opera, and Voicexperience/Savannah Voice Festival. She also served in the hospitality industry in food/beverage and as a tour guide in Winston Salem, NC.

Destination on the Left is joined by Jennifer Lazarz, the Tourism and Marketing Manager for the City of Gallup, New Mexico. On our podcast, Jennifer talks about how her background as an opera singer helps her bring a unique lens to the travel and tourism industry. She also discusses the importance of building relationships within the industry to promote a destination, the value of ‘people’ in tourism marketing, and the upcoming centennial anniversary of Route 66.

What You Will Learn:

  • How Jennifer’s background as an opera singer helps her bring a unique lens to the travel and tourism industry
  • The importance of building relationships within the industry to better promote your destination
  • Why travel is about the people, not the experience, and how we can leverage that notion
  • How Jennifer is preparing for the upcoming centennial anniversary of Route 66
  • How Jennifer has been able to capture the unique character of Gallup using creativity and collaboration
  • What Jennifer has done to help Gallup stand out from the crowd
  • The lessons Jennifer has taken away from the global pandemic, and how coopetition helped her through

The City of Gallup

Destination on the Left is joined by Jennifer Lazarz, the Tourism and Marketing Manager for the City of Gallup, New Mexico. On our podcast, Jennifer talks about how her background as an opera singer helps her bring a unique lens to the travel and tourism industry. She also discusses the importance of building relationships within the industry to promote a destination, the value of ‘people’ in tourism marketing, and the upcoming centennial anniversary of Route 66. Jennifer’s insights provide us with a great blueprint to approach our destination marketing strategy for 2021.

Capturing the Character of Gallup

Jennifer describes Gallup, NM as a city hiding in plain sight because it is a very substantial town despite what you might expect. Gallup is thirty miles east of the Arizona border on Interstate 40 and the Historic Route 66. It is surrounded by Native American populations and a significant amount of indigenous land, so Gallup has essentially become the economic hub of the entire region. There is an amazing culture derived from a combination of its coal mining roots and the influence of native cultural arts. Jennifer’s mission has been to capture this unique culture in her marketing efforts, and she has employed an incredible use of creativity and collaboration to do so.

Opportunity Through Networking

Throughout her tenure as the Tourism and Marketing Manager for Gallup, Jennifer has put a lot of effort into simply letting people know Gallup is there. Social media, digital marketing, and traditional out-of-home advertising have all played a major role in the growth of Gallup’s marketing platform. However, Jennifer’s approach to networking is what sets Gallup apart. She has spent a ton of time attending travel and tourism events and developing relationships with industry partners. Once they understood Jennifer’s vision and Gallup’s accessibility, they started providing her with resources to realize that vision. Don’t underestimate what your destination has to offer, there is always an atypical opportunity out there if you are willing to find it.

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Feb 10, 2021

Kerri Green is the President & CEO of Commerce Chenango, beginning August 2019. She is a US Army Veteran and has a marketing degree from SUNY Delhi. Kerri has an extensive background in economic development, sales, and in administration. Her background includes a tenure at CDO Broadcasting as Sales Manager for over ten years, and five years in Higher Education working as the Senior Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Board of Trustees at Hartwick College as well as the Director of Admissions at USC (Oneonta). She has spent over twenty years working wit various economic development agencies and Chambers of Commerce (all-volunteer) before taking the helm at Commerce Chenango.

Commerce Chenango houses the Chenango County Chamber of Commerce, operates at the Economic Development arm of Chenango County through the Development Chenango Corporation (DCC) as the Chenango County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) as well as the Chenango Foundation (501 C3).

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Green has been the lead contact for Chenango County through the Southern Tier Control Room as well as working closely with Empire State Development (ESD) by serving on multiple workgroups and working on the 2021 Strategic Plan for the Southern Tier.

Green resides in Sidney with her husband and two daughters.

Destination on the Left is joined by Kerri Green, the President & CEO of Commerce Chenango. Her organization houses the Chenango County Chamber of Commerce and operates at the Economic Development arm of Chenango County. During our conversation, Kerri talks about the importance of aligning tourism and economic development. She explains what that synergy looks like in Chenango County and how she is redesigning Commerce Chenango’s business model to maximize it. Kerri also discusses the evolution of her newsletter, “Keep Calm and Kerri On.”

What You Will Learn:

  • The importance of aligning tourism and economic development
  • How Kerri is rebuilding Commerce Chenango’s business model from the ground up
  • The evolution of Kerri’s “Keep Calm and Kerri On” newsletter
  • How this year has taught us to be more resourceful and inquisitive about what our communities have to offer
  • The different collaborations Kerri has initiated in an effort to drive visitor traffic in Chenango
  • How Kerri is managing her own destination on top of building a regional support structure for other communities in the area

Commerce Chenango

Destination on the Left is joined by Kerri Green, the President & CEO of Commerce Chenango. Her organization houses the Chenango County Chamber of Commerce and operates at the Economic Development arm of Chenango County. During our conversation, Kerri talks about the importance of aligning tourism and economic development. She explains what that synergy looks like in Chenango County and how she is redesigning Commerce Chenango’s business model to maximize it. Kerri also discusses the evolution of her newsletter, “Keep Calm and Kerri On.”

Rebranding from the Ground Up

Whether you are trying to attract new residents/businesses or tourists, there is a lot of competition. It is important to differentiate your destination so it stands out from the crowd. Kerri has had a lot of success with this despite being thrown into the viper pit in the middle of a pandemic during her first year in charge. She has led the efforts of Commerce Chenango’s rebrand with a bottom-up approach. She has addressed their programs, initiatives, funding, and resources to make the greatest impact. Kerri also leveraged Chenango’s rural character to appeal to the shop local movement and attract people who are looking for a charming change of pace.

Creativity in the Face of Adversity

Adversity is no match for creativity, and one of the silver-linings of 2020 has been to watch creativity prevail in so many new ways. Aside from rebranding Commerce Chenango, Kerri has used creativity to engage the community in a bunch of other ways. Her team has produced a series of videos in-house to help people understand what is available in their community during the pandemic. They are also promoting safe events that are unique to Chenango County to drive visitor traffic going into 2021. This year has taught us to be more resourceful and more inquisitive about what our communities have to offer. Chenango is a great example of that.

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

Feb 3, 2021

Husband and wife team, Tim and Janine Caschette, own Avvino which opened in 2013. The restaurant focuses on seasonal, American cuisine with an International twist and is known for its expansive and highly-curated wine program.

Destination on the Left is joined by the husband and wife team, Tim and Janine Caschette. They are the owners of Avvino, a contemporary American restaurant in Rochester New York boasting locally sourced ingredients and an eclectic, rotating seasonal menu. On our podcast, Tim and Janine share their stories and talk about how they found their passion in the restaurant industry. They also explain how their focus on food, service, and atmosphere combined with a highly-curated wine program helped them navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

What You Will Learn:

  • How Tim and Janine came to find their passion in the restaurant industry
  • How Tim and Janine’s focus on food, service, and atmosphere combined with a highly-curated wine program helped them navigate the lockdowns
  • Different ways Tim and Janine use creativity and collaboration to stand out from the competition
  • What Avvino has done to overcome the ever-changing lockdown restrictions
  • How Avvino used creativity to bring the hospitality experience to people at home

Avvino

Destination on the Left is joined by the husband and wife team, Tim and Janine Caschette. They are the owners of Avvino, a contemporary American restaurant in Rochester New York boasting locally sourced ingredients and an eclectic, rotating seasonal menu. On our podcast, Tim and Janine share their stories and talk about how they found their passion in the restaurant industry. They also explain how their focus on food, service, and atmosphere combined with a highly-curated wine program helped them navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food, Service, and Atmosphere

Tim and Janine had vastly different introductions and pathways into the restaurant industry, but they found common ground in its opportunities to express creativity and passion. Creativity drives everything they do, and they are constantly looking for new ways to make their restaurant stand out from the competition. The triple threat of food, service, and atmosphere that we talked about is extremely important because many restaurants only check one or two of the boxes. Tim and Janine bring different perspectives to the table because of their unique backgrounds and experiences, and their complementary skillsets keep Avvino on the cutting-edge of all three categories.

Overcoming Restrictions with Creativity

In addition to helping Tim and Janine stay competitive when it counts, their approach to creativity also enables them to adapt to the ever-changing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. These restrictions are changing on what seems like a daily basis, and you have to be quick on your feet to stay compliant. Avvino revamped its menu to be takeout friendly, and takeout volume went from 1 order to almost 100 orders a night. They also found new ways to bring the hospitality experience to their customers at home by adding a personal touch to each order. As we finally put 2020 behind us, It is important to recognize the level of problem-solving restaurants like Avvino displayed. Restaurants that survived because of their creativity and quick thinking are going to bring a lot more to the table as the country begins to reopen.

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

Jan 27, 2021

Tim Midgley has over 15 years of technology strategy consulting experience in both corporate and startup environments. He enjoys working in a variety of roles that require modern knowledge of solution creation, business analysis, and product design. Tim is a highly sought after resource for friends and family when they are seeking motivation, guidance, or feedback across a variety of work-related or wellness-focused initiatives.

Destination on the Left is joined by Tim Midgley, co-founder of Diemlife. Diemlife is a platform designed to build teams, create events, launch campaigns. They specialize in virtual and hybrid events that drive results and marketing goals. During our conversation, Tim explains how Diemlife helps communities and organizations mobilize their people. He also shares insights about his company’s new perspective on activation and engagement. And he discusses his philosophy on the 6 Pillars of Wellness.

What You Will Learn:

  • Tim’s journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • How the Diemlife platform helps communities and organizations mobilize their people
  • How a new perspective on activation can drive results and marketing goals
  • Tim’s philosophy on the 6 Pillars of Wellness
  • How Diemlife’s “quests” connect organizations with the resources they need to grow
  • How you can get involved in the World’s Biggest Race for Wellness hosted by Diemlife
  • How Diemlife has been able to accomplish incredible things with its partners in response to COVID

Diemlife

Destination on the Left is joined by Tim Midgley, co-founder of Diemlife. Diemlife is a platform designed to build teams, create events, launch campaigns. They specialize in virtual and hybrid events that drive results and marketing goals. During our conversation, Tim explains how Diemlife helps communities and organizations mobilize their people. He also shares insights about his company’s new perspective on activation and engagement. And he discusses his philosophy on the 6 Pillars of Wellness.

Embarking on a Quest

“Quests” are a core element of the Diemlife framework. They are a unique take on campaigns that connect organizations with the resources they need to accomplish their goals. Diemlife works with universities, cities, and other organizations to engage their customers in the unique quest platform that amplifies the brand journey. In the travel and tourism industry, however, the journey is literal, and it offers DMOs a bunch of tools to create stronger connections with the travelers who visit.

What is Really Happening in Your Community?

In addition to quests, Diemlife’s mission is largely driven by their 6 Pillars of Wellness: physical, mental, social, environmental, occupational, and financial. Not everyone thinks of these things when they think about their wellness journey, but they are important to consider as you pursue growth in your organization. When it comes to communities, tourism, and how these segments can get creative with the Diemlife platform, Tim and his team offer insights into the demographic composition of a community and the activities they are participating in. A quest can be anything, so it provides an organic look at what communities are up to. Destinations of all sizes need a partner that is creative and quick on their feet.

Jan 20, 2021

Eric Patrick is a lifelong marketing professional earning a degree in Advertising from Washington State University. He spent the first 10 years of his career working for small advertising agencies in Portland, OR and central Washington State. Through that experience, he started marketing fruits and vegetables extensively around 2000 and has been at it ever since. Working for one of the largest shippers of apples/pears/cherries in the U.S. and currently at a large distributor based in Oakland, CA. He has traveled extensively during his fresh produce career and also started marketing for other companies such as Tajin Seasonings and about 5 years ago he was asked to pitch a tourism account with a friend. The account was Union Gap, WA Tourism, a small DMO in central Washington State and a small town in Yakima County. Eric also teaches an Intro to Advertising Class at Yakima Valley College.

Destination on the Left is joined by Eric Patrick, the Marketing and Tourism Director for Union Gap, Washington. During our conversation, Eric discusses the different ways he is creatively generating awareness for Union Gap. He also explains how Asparafest—an asparagus-themed restaurant weekend—was dawned after one of Union Gap’s local restaurants was presented with the James Beard Award. Eric has been able to build a global network for his Twitter Chat called, #SmallTownTourismChat, and on our podcast, he shares insights about what small towns are doing to drive traffic as the travel industry returns.

What You Will Learn:

  • The different ways Eric is creatively promoting tourism in Union Gap, WA
  • How Eric has generated awareness for Union Gap during the pandemic
  • How Eric leveraged the James Beard Award won by a local restaurant to drive awareness
  • The roles of creativity and collaboration in driving tourism for Union Gap
  • Eric’s journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • What opportunities lie ahead for small-town destinations in 2021

Union Gap, WA

Destination on the Left is joined by Eric Patrick, the Marketing and Tourism Director for Union Gap, Washington. During our conversation, Eric discusses the different ways he is creatively generating awareness for Union Gap. He also explains how Asparafest—an asparagus-themed restaurant weekend—was dawned after one of Union Gap’s local restaurants was presented with the James Beard Award. Eric has been able to build a global network for his Twitter Chat called, #SmallTownTourismChat, and on our podcast, he shares insights about what small towns are doing to drive traffic as the travel industry returns.

Putting Union Gap on the Map

When most people think of Washington state, they think of destinations like Seattle and Spokane. Union Gap is not so familiar, but it has a flavor all its own. Located on the east side of the state, Union Gap is nestled in the agricultural belt of Washington which gets over 300 days of sun per year. It is only a half-hour from the mountains, with Mt. Rainier in plain view. Despite its small size, Union Gap offers an unparalleled charm that appeals to outdoor enthusiasts and wine/craft beer connoisseurs alike. Eric has been able to leverage all of these traits to put Union Gap on the map, and he is helping tons of other small-town destinations do the same.

Finding Opportunity in 2021

2020 has obviously been a challenging year for everyone in every destination, but looking forward, Eric plans to continue what he started. Union, Gap was on the precipice of widespread recognition before the pandemic. They have tons of unique events, from the world’s largest sprint car show to the annual Pioneer Power show hosted every summer. Eric’s focus as the Marketing and Tourism Director has been to bring these events to the forefront and use them to define Union Gap. He has continued to do that virtually during the pandemic, and as things reopen, the physical events will re-emerge as well. 2021 has so much opportunity, and Union Gap will be positioning themselves as an essential stop in the year of the road trip, with tons of outdoor activities to keep you busy. There is opportunity for every small town destination out there, so join the conversation in Eric’s #SmallTownTourismChat on Twitter.

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

Jan 13, 2021

A marketing strategist for over 30 years, Susan Baier founded Audience Audit in 2009 to help organizations understand their best audiences based on attitudes and needs rather than just demographics or purchase behavior. She develops custom segmentation research for marketers and agencies around the world, supporting their efforts to create marketing initiatives that are more relevant, more efficient, and more impactful.

Destination on the Left is joined again by Susan Baier to discuss the impact collaboration has on the travel and tourism industry. Susan is the founder of Audience Audit, a research firm that studies the attitudes behind consumer behaviors and beliefs. Susan teamed up with our host Nicole Mahoney to conduct a study about the far-reaching effects of coopetition, where perceived competitors accomplish something bigger than themselves by coming together.

What You Will Learn:

  • An overview of the findings from Susan and Nicole’s research study on collaboration
  • The impact collaboration has on the travel and tourism industry
  • How perceived competitors can use coopetition to accomplish something bigger than themselves by coming together
  • How attitudinal research works, and why it is more effective in our industry
  • The industry-wide sentiment toward collaboration in travel and tourism
  • The three different types of collaborators and how each one affects the group dynamic
  • Where tourism professionals are seeking resources on collaboration

Collaboration in the Pandemic

Susan Baier is back for another episode of Destination on the Left to discuss the impact collaboration has on the travel and tourism industry. She is the founder of Audience Audit, a research firm that studies the attitudes behind consumer behaviors and beliefs. Susan teamed up with host Nicole Mahoney to conduct a study about the far-reaching effects of coopetition, where perceived competitors accomplish something bigger than themselves by coming together. As we transition into a new year during these difficult times, it is important to understand how our organizations can use collaboration to navigate new challenges and measure our success.

Data That Aligns With Your Goals

There is an overwhelming amount of data available to destination marketers, but it is often the case that only a small portion of it aligns with our goals. So much data is virtually useless to us and as a result, we approach marketing strategy with expensive blind spots. While two individuals in a marketing segment may appear similar on the surface, they likely have two completely different sets of needs and problems that cannot be addressed with one blanket communication tactic. Attitudinal research offers a solution for destination marketers by providing them with targeted research based on needs and attitudes instead of demographics and purchase behaviors.

There is a Demand for Collaboration

The goal of Nicole and Susan’s study was to understand the industry-wide sentiment toward collaboration in travel and tourism. There were approximately 161 completed responses in the initial survey, providing enough data for the results to be statistically significant while offering a wide spectrum of attitudinal differences to compare with the results. The interesting thing about research is that it doesn’t always prove that you don’t know what you’re talking about—sometimes it has the opposite effect. This study reinforced the willingness to collaborate in all segments of the travel and tourism industry, with 76% of respondents having collaborated with direct competitors. What does this mean for you? It means there are an abundance of new opportunities to overcome challenges of the pandemic if you are willing to seek them out. This is huge for travel professionals from all walks of life.

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

 
Jan 6, 2021

Tammy Blount-Canavan has a passion for elevating leadership and team performance. She has had a standout career developing high-performance teams of staff, boards, and community organizations. Tammy provides relatable and innovative leadership to bring out the best in organizations and individuals.

Tammy’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, and President and CEO of the Monterey County CVB.

Tammy is a Past Chair of Destinations International and co-chaired the creation and launch of DestinationNEXT. 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, Community Leader of the Year, Leading for Positive Impact Award and Destination Internationals Global Leadership Award.

Tammy holds Fellow Certified Destination Marketing Executive (FCDME) certification which she now helps instruct, and is passionate about mentoring the current and next generation of Destination Leaders.

Destination on the Left is joined by Tammy Blount-Canavan, Executive Vice President and Principal of Destination and Travel Practice at Fired Up! Culture. Kicking off the new year in 2021, Tammy’s message reminds us of what’s important as we move past the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild the travel and tourism industry. On our podcast, Tammy talks about the importance of finding and following your North Star so you can be a more effective leader. She also discusses the fundamental leadership practices that will help you better yourself and your team as you continue to navigate the pandemic.

What You Will Learn:

  • The importance of finding and following your North Star
  • Why leading yourself first will make you a better leader for others
  • Tammy’s leadership journey in the travel and tourism industry
  • Five key practices to be an effective leader in these challenging times
  • Action steps, insights, and ideas to help you improve yourself and your team

Fired Up! Culture

Tammy Blount-Canavan is the Executive Vice President and Principal of Destination and Travel Practice at Fired Up! Culture. Her message reminds us of what’s important as we move past the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild the travel and tourism industry. On our podcast, Tammy talks about the importance of finding and following your North Star so you can be a more effective leader. She also discusses the fundamental leadership practices that will help you better yourself and your team as you continue to navigate the pandemic.

Fundamentals of Great Culture and Leadership

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged travel and tourism professionals in ways never thought possible. Many of you have found new means to thrive and persevere, despite having no end to the chaos in sight. What is the common theme among destination marketers that have experienced success in these trying times? Strong leadership! The leaders of these organizations rely on five key practices to maintain effectiveness during the pandemic including being vulnerable, listening, giving hope, talking about gratitude, and being enthusiastic about the future.

Find Your North Star

Destination marketing organizations can use leadership and culture to achieve growth and stand out from the crowd, just as they can use creativity and collaboration. It all starts with finding your North Star. What is your ‘reason for being’ as it relates to your organization? What values and beliefs do you hold dear, and how are they being lived by your team? Finding your North Star will give your organization the focus it needs to adapt, innovate, and create the next iteration of itself. Your North Star is aligned with your vision for the future, and it is the key to maintaining a powerful team chemistry no matter how the industry or circumstances change moving forward.

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/

Dec 16, 2020

Twenty years ago, Pascale Bernasse fulfilled a lifelong dream and began a career in the travel industry. Today, that dream remains a reality for her as the co-owner and President of French Wine Explorers.

Bernasse started working in the travel industry in 2000 after leaving a corporate career that had left her uninspired. Taking a leap of faith, she started her career at two of the first internet-based cruise retailers, then moved on to gain experience with a small niche tour operator and a brick and mortar travel agency. In 2007 Bernasse and her husband, Pierre, acquired French Wine Explorers, a boutique tour operator specializing in luxury wine vacations in France and Italy.

For the past nine years, Bernasse has been featured as a Condé Nast “Top Travel Specialist” for her expertise. Bernasse earned this reputation by providing exceptional immersive tours with memorable experiences. Her success is due to her insider’s knowledge and relationships with the top estates and guides in France. Daughter of a French native, Bernasse spent summers in France and received part of her college education and professional experience there. All this time spent in France has allowed her to have a deep perspective that she shares with clients.

Says Bernasse, “I am incredibly proud of my experiences in the travel business these last 20 years. This has been a dream of mine since I was a young child spending my summers in France. Over the years, I have forged relationships with outstanding clients and service providers. These partnerships have allowed me to grow in ways that I never imagined. We use a high-touch approach with our clients; and this fuels our brand as Pierre and I surround ourselves with the best in the business. I hope the next 20 years will challenge, reward, and inspire me as much as the past 20 have been!”

Along with recognition from Condé Nast, French Wine Explorers has been recognized by Wine Enthusiast, Travel and Leisure, Rachel Ray Magazine, Travel Weekly, and Bon Appétit magazines.

Destination on the Left is joined by Pascale Bernasse, the president of French Wine Explorers. In our conversation, Pascale and I talk about the importance of finding your tribe and maintaining focus so you can navigate the challenges of this pandemic. She explains how her company found its North Star and managed to stay healthy through all of the hurdles in 2020. And she also discusses her commitment to serving the community and putting her customers first. Our podcast is full of invaluable insights about French Wine Explorers’ ability to persevere in these trying times, and I am sure it will energize you as it did me.

What You Will Learn:

  • How Pascale found her way into the travel and tourism industry 20 years ago
  • Pascale’s role as co-owner and president of French Wine Explorers
  • The importance of finding your tribe amidst a global crisis
  • How to maintain focus so you can navigate the challenges of the pandemic more effectively
  • What French Wine Explorers did to stay healthy through all of the hurdles of 2020
  • How Pascale’s commitment to service and putting her customers first paid off during the pandemic

French Wine Explorers

Destination on the Left is joined by Pascale Bernasse, the president of French Wine Explorers. In our conversation, Pascale and I talk about the importance of finding your tribe and maintaining focus so you can navigate the challenges of this pandemic. She explains how her company found its North Star and managed to stay healthy through all of the hurdles in 2020. And she also discusses her commitment to serving the community and putting her customers first. Our podcast is full of invaluable insights about French Wine Explorers’ ability to persevere in these trying times, and I am sure it will energize you as it did me.

Serving, Not Selling

French Wine Explorers offers wine tours in France, Italy, and Spain to help wine lovers become true connoisseurs. Her customers are not comfortable sitting on a beach for a week—they are looking to come back with more knowledge than they started with by participating in enriching experiences abroad. On the surface, French Wine Explorers is a tour company, but Pascale figured out how to take it so much further than that. By focusing on relationship development and the individual needs of each client, each experience has a personal touch that her competitors can’t offer. French Wine Explorers doesn’t sell, it serves. And the new circumstances of the pandemic have only made that more significant.

Responding to the Global Pandemic

It goes without saying that the events of 2020 have been challenging for everyone, but the travel and tourism industry has been hit especially hard. It has forced us to adapt and serve our clients in new ways. In the first half of the year, Pascale and her team focused solely on protecting the investments of clients who had booked tours in 2020. The second half of the year has been dedicated to finding ways to run the business more efficiently based on Pascale’s vision for the future. France experienced a number of terror attacks in 2016 which cut French Wine Explorers’ business in half. Moving forward, Pascale and her team focused on building financial insulation for anything else that might happen in the future. That insulation has been key in their ability to pivot and push forward in these difficult times.

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/

 
Dec 9, 2020

As a tourism professional for over 25 years, David Holder co-founded Clarity of Place with a hands-on understanding of what destination leaders need to be successful. David leads stakeholder engagement efforts and crafts tactical plans to ensure destinations are equipped with the data and industry insights to react to changing environments but still attain their strategic vision.

In leading a variety of destinations, David proved himself to be an industry innovator, taking new perspectives on what it means for destinations to be competitive and specializing in setting and meeting measurable marketing, sales, and product development results.

A versatile and effective communicator, David honed his destination management skills by collaborating with industry partners through service on the board of directors for Destinations International, the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program, and the US Travel Association Destinations Council, to name a few.

Destination on the Left is joined by David Holder, the co-founder of Clarity of Place. David’s organization helps destinations navigate threats and opportunities that impact their ability to attract visitors and attain their long-term strategic goals. He has over twenty-five years of experience in the travel and tourism industry, and he has mastered the art of tactical planning, data analysis, and collaboration to ensure destinations can thrive in changing environments. On our podcast, David explains how DMOs should communicate with their communities. He also shares why aligning your priorities with the priorities of the community will set you up for success.

What You Will Learn:

  • David’s journey into travel and tourism
  • How DMOs can better communicate with their communities
  • Why aligning your priorities with the priorities of the community will set you up for success
  • The difference between the ‘why’ of what you do vs. the ‘what’ or the ‘how’
  • How to leverage transformational metrics for tactical planning
  • What DMOs can do to form stronger connections with economic development
  • How the pandemic has impacted destination marketing

Clarity of Place

Destination on the Left is joined by David Holder, the co-founder of Clarity of Place. David’s organization helps destinations navigate threats and opportunities that impact their ability to attract visitors and attain their long-term strategic goals. He has over twenty-five years of experience in the travel and tourism industry, and he has mastered the art of tactical planning, data analysis, and collaboration to ensure destinations can thrive in changing environments. On our podcast, David explains how DMOs should communicate with their communities. He also shares why aligning your priorities with the priorities of the community will set you up for success.

Get Buy-in From Your Community

David offers a unique perspective when it comes to the different ways destinations can leverage data. He believes there is a dire need for destinations to communicate more effectively across their communities because there is a disconnect between the priorities of DMOs and the priorities of the communities. Clarity of place has made it their focus to find connections between DMOs and communities, so they can help everyone understand the big picture effect of their programs and why they do what they do. If you can get buy-in from the community, your destination will have much greater success.

Responding to the Global Pandemic

When David and his team at Clarity of Place first started looking for these connections, they explored many of the different programs destinations created in response to the global pandemic. They found that the hyper-local outreach and progressive content strategy we have seen are only going to continue in these destinations after the pandemic subsides. The pandemic has changed the needs of the community and the individual, and it has put everything DMOs do into a different context. By understanding the data that drives the new trends, marketing organizations can use them to guide their strategies moving forward.

Episode Transcript

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Dec 2, 2020

With transformation and culture change in her DNA, Judy McKinney-Cherry is a seasoned leader and successful entrepreneur recognized for her expertise in economic and community development. She is sought after and known for her ability to balance a strategic focus with boots on the ground pragmatism that she leverages to help emerging businesses forge growth trajectories and create sustainable and successful futures. Ms. Cherry is currently the Executive Director for SCOPED, the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, and the CEO/CFO for the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency.

Ms. McKinney Cherrys diverse background includes over 25 years of executive experience across the private sector, public sector, and university settings including appointments by the Governors of New York and Delaware. Her service on numerous local, regional, and national Boards includes Corning Community College Regional Board of Trustees, CCS Workforce Investment & Opportunity Board, the Southern Tier Central Planning Council, Locate Finger Lakes!, Erie Canal Heritage Fund, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Regional Energy and Economic Development Corporation, to name a few.

As a certified economic developer with fellow member status, she also serves on the International Economic Development Council Accreditation Committee. When she manages to pull herself away from doing the work she loves and for which she has an unwavering commitment, you can find her riding her BMW motorcycle, beekeeping, working with raptors, and spending time on the golf course. She currently resides in Watkins Glen with her husband, Phil, her corgi, Winston, and their chickens, Emily, Lucy, and Ethyl.

Destination on the Left is joined by Judy McKinney Cherry, a seasoned economic and community development professional with a wealth of experience in the travel and tourism sector. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, as well as the CEO, CFO of the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency. Judy has a deep understanding of the role travel and tourism plays as an economic driver in destinations across the country. On our podcast, she joins us to share her story, highlighting the importance of housing in economic performance, and mapping out her collaborative framework as it relates to our 3C’s.

What You Will Learn:

  • Travel and tourism’s role as an economic driver in communities across the country
  • Why housing is critical to the performance of any economy
  • Judy’s experience with collaboration, and how it ties into our 3C’s framework
  • How Judy’s public/private sector perspectives and experience with data influence her decisions
  • Why we need to approach tourism as so much more than promoting/marketing a destination
  • What Judy has done to help her organization stand out from the pack
  • How Judy’s team has used creativity and collaboration to navigate crises
  • How the pandemic has leveled the playing field in travel and tourism

Tourism is Part of the Economic Fabric

Judy McKinney Cherry is a seasoned economic and community development professional with a wealth of experience in the travel and tourism sector. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, as well as the CEO, CFO of the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency. Judy has a deep understanding of the role travel and tourism plays as an economic driver in destinations across the country. On our podcast, Judy joins us to share her story, highlighting the importance of housing in economic performance, and mapping out her collaborative framework as it relates to our 3C’s.

More Than Marketing

Judy is extremely data-driven in her approach to strategy, and she views tourism as an economic driver. It is part of the economic fabric of every community, which is why tourism boards and organizations are so much more than marketers alone. If you look at tourism as an entire industry instead of a means of promoting your destination, then you will be able to thrive collectively. Tourism is not a subsect of economic development, it is part of it. And it is a way for communities to engage travelers in ongoing relationships that lead to potential opportunities for growth.

Planning for What-If Scenarios

In travel and tourism, Judy is always planning for the what-if scenarios. COVID is a good example because the entire industry transformed overnight. When destination marketers are only focused on promoting a destination, there is virtually nothing for them to do in a situation like this. But when they operate as an integral part of a destination’s economic development, they can help fill in the gaps wherever it is necessary. The essence of creativity is problem-solving. When you combine that with collaboration and a willing network of organizations that have a location’s best interest in mind, disaster scenarios are easier to manage.

Episode Transcript

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Nov 18, 2020

In our solocast episode of Destination on the Left, we share some exciting new content in an episode format we’ve never done before. Nicole Mahoney does an exclusive table read of her keynote speech about world-changing collaborations. During the podcast, She provides a refined perspective on the importance of collaboration in the travel and tourism industry. Collaboration will play a significant role in the recovery of our industry, and we compiled numerous conversations with other industry experts so we could share the overarching sentiment with you.

What You Will Learn:

Nicole’s keynote speech on world-changing collaboration
Why travel and tourism will bounce back stronger than ever
How we can master the art of collaboration to keep travel alive in the “new normal”
How to apply the 3 C’s of Collaboration framework
Why we need to have a collective vision to have a successful recovery
Examples of world-changing collaboration lived out by other travel and tourism professionals
How tourism marketers have leveraged digital media to collaborate

Collaboration During Economic Recovery

In our solocast episode of Destination on the Left, we share some exciting new content in an episode format we’ve never done before. Nicole Mahoney does an exclusive table read of her keynote speech about world-changing collaborations. During the podcast, She provides a refined perspective on the importance of collaboration in the travel and tourism industry. Collaboration will play a significant role in the economic recovery of our industry, and we compiled numerous conversations with other industry experts so we could share the overarching sentiment with you.

We Will Bounce Back Stronger Than Ever

For a long period after 9/11, people were afraid to fly, afraid to travel to big cities, and afraid to gather for large group events. Sounds familiar right? At the time it was hard to imagine the travel and tourism industry ever recovering from such a devastating impact. Through that world-shaking event, then the great recession, and now the global pandemic resulting from COVID-19, the travel industry has and will continue to prevail. It will bounce back stronger than ever, and sometimes we forget that—while history doesn’t always repeat itself—it often rhymes.

The Art of Collaboration

It is overwhelming to look at what has happened to our industry knowing there is no clear end in sight, but we are in this together. If we can master the art of collaboration, we will find new ways to keep travel and tourism alive in the “new normal” that awaits. Adversity creates pressure and urgency that stimulates creativity and brings out the best our minds have to offer. Never let that go to waste. Take advantage of the opportunity to band together with our industries brightest minds and lead the world out of this. Collaboration is truly an art, and by harnessing its power, we will come out better than before.

Additional Resources:

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Nov 11, 2020

As America’s Road Trip Expert, Dr. Forbes has traveled by car in all 50 states, enjoying hundreds of scenic byways and scenic drives passing through thousands of historic towns. Her love of the road trip began at age 7 and even her High School was on a Scenic Byway. After a career in architecture and facility management, ending at The World Bank in Washington, DC, she was able to transform her love of the road trip into a successful career. Since beginning to develop road trips and driving travel packaging for destinations throughout the United States, Dr. Forbes has assisted over 300 locations to develop and promote new travel products in their areas. While managing an international inbound tour operator, she included scenic byways in every possible driving trip for overseas visitors.

Even though Dr. Forbes still assists destinations and regional locations to develop road trip experiences, more recently she contracted to take on the role of Director of Development and Marketing for the National Scenic Byway Foundation, and also the management of the effort to develop a comprehensive website to include all scenic byways and scenic roads throughout the United States. In addition to those roles, she serves as Professor of Destination Management and Marketing for the Temple University Masters in Travel and Tourism program. Dr. Forbes is conversant with the economic impact of Scenic Byways and scenic roads along with methods to create economic development in areas where it is hardest to come by. Her unique background in working on all sides of the equation – developing road trip experiences for the travel sellers and selling road trips as the head travel agent, holding an IATA number to travel buyers, plus teaching the subjects and working in economic development delivers a comprehensive perspective on what today’s visitors need and want and what travel sellers must do to respond, not found anywhere else.

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Art and Architectural History from the University of Wisconsin, a Doctorate in Environmental Planning from Union University, a Certificate in Digital Marketing from the University of Illinois, and is currently working on an MBA at Taft University.

Destination on the Left is joined by Dr. Maree Forbes, Director of Development and Marketing for the National Scenic Byway Foundation. As America’s Road Trip Expert, Dr. Forbes has traveled by car in all 50 states, enjoying hundreds of scenic byways and scenic drives passing through thousands of historic towns. On our podcast, Maree shares her story and talks about the importance of scenic byways to the small towns and communities that they encompass. She also discusses the use of storytelling to create visitor experiences, and the importance of collaboration in travel and tourism.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Dr. Forbes’ journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • The importance of scenic byways to the small towns and communities that they encompass
  • How Dr. Forbes creates itineraries based on visitor experience
  • How Dr. Forbes drove international travel through America’s scenic byways and drives
  • How storytelling enhances the ability to build visitor experiences
  • What Dr. Forbes has done to target different demographics with her travel experiences
  • The importance of creativity and collaboration in building road trip experiences

The National Scenic Byway Foundation

Dr. Maree Forbes is the Director of Development and Marketing for the National Scenic Byway Foundation. As America’s Road Trip Expert, Dr. Forbes has traveled by car in all 50 states, enjoying hundreds of scenic byways and scenic drives passing through thousands of historic towns. She has assisted over 300 locations to develop and promote new travel products in their areas. And her experience spans every piece of the equation. On our podcast, Maree shares her story and talks about the importance of scenic byways to the small towns and communities that they encompass.

Preserving the Beauty

Dr. Forbes designs unique road trip experiences for scenic byways and scenic drives in conjunction with The National Scenic Byway Foundation, an organization that picked up the pieces when federal funding was cut. She and her team are looking for ways to promote these one-of-a-kind travel routes on one central platform so they can fund preservation efforts and maintain the irreplicable beauty of the byways and scenic drives for generations to come. You can’t just build a new one when the beauty is destroyed, so these efforts are critical to locations across the country.

The Personal Travel Portfolio

Building these unique road trip experiences for a broad spectrum of travelers requires a lot of creativity. As competitive as the travel and tourism industry can be, Dr. Forbes had to figure out how to elevate the road trip. It was a challenge to inspire visitors to take the scenic route instead of flying to a destination and flying back, but she had a lot of success targeting international travelers with her “personal travel portfolio.” Many international travelers wanted to rent a car when they got to America, but with the grandiosity of the U.S., they didn’t quite know where to start. This program had a story for each day of travel, with detailed information about things to see and do that would make their trip more satisfying. And the use of creativity to turn driving into a travel experience did so much for scenic byways and drives around the country.

Nov 4, 2020

While owning an ad agency was never in her dreams, Ginna Royce can’t think of a better way to spend her life–with the exception of being the next Food Network star! The opportunity to experience different industries, personalities, and technology through her clients is an amazing part of every day; the chance to share this with her husband–my partner–is a blessing.

She has deep West Virginia roots but was raised in northern Virginia. WVU provided a phenomenal Journalism education and she landed at the Dominion Post right after graduation. A short stint with an ad agency had her hooked on the culture but it was a client that forced her hand…he canceled his contract with the firm and told her to call him when she got her own office. She never looked back.

They cut their teeth on 18 hour days and lots of retail for the first 15 years, the last eight have included service and manufacturing industries along with international marketing. Delbert and Ginna developed a wanderlust recently that has taken them to Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Africa. And there’s still a lot to see. With three dogs and a cat, time at home is complete.

Ginna has a passion for this business…better yet, she has lifelong friends that entered her life disguised as clients and employees. It doesn’t get better than that.

Destination on the Left is joined by Ginna Royce, the CEO and Creative Director at BlaineTurner Advertising. BTA focuses on providing an honest, eye-opening approach to marketing, where research, strategy, and creative work in perfect unison. When we learned about Ginna’s work with the CVB in her region of West Virginia, we knew she would bring a ton of value to the table. On our podcast, Ginna shares her journey into the travel and tourism industry, and her unique approach to marketing in this niche.

The Evolution of Tourism Marketing

Ginna Royce is the CEO and Creative Director at BlaineTurner Advertising. BTA focuses on providing an honest, eye-opening approach to marketing, where research, strategy, and creative work in perfect unison. When we learned about Ginna’s work with the CVB in her region of West Virginia, we knew she would bring a ton of value to the table. On our podcast, Ginna shares her journey into the travel and tourism industry, and her unique approach to marketing in this niche. She explains what DMOs can do to generate more leads and maximize the results of their campaigns. And she also talks about how her agency is using collaboration to serve a CVB that now includes three counties.

No Experience Wasted

BlaineTurner was founded in 1986, and as you can imagine, a lot has changed in advertising/marketing in the last thirty-four years. Having that perspective enables Ginna to think critically about every business problem that her clients and prospects bring through BTA’s doors. In addition to that, her agency has served many industries outside of tourism like healthcare and manufacturing. Their broad spectrum of work means they can adapt quickly in the ever-changing market place as new channels, consumer behaviors, and industry trends arise. In travel and tourism, that is an important agency trait now more than ever.

Brand Positioning in Travel and Tourism

When your agency can navigate the challenges of a changing advertising landscape, you build trust that leads to long term relationships. A great example of this is BlaineTurner’s relationship with the Visit Mountaineer Country CVB. The organization has been working with BTA since its inception in 1986, and together they have worked through an expansion to three counties, as well as a complete rebranding of the CVB in 2019. Brand positioning is a major topic of discussion in travel and tourism. And Ginna’s ability to cater to visitors and stakeholders alike has enabled her clients to speak to multiple audiences while remaining effective. From giveaways to creative campaigns, BTA continues to find new ways to generate interest among different demographics.

Oct 28, 2020

Greg DeShields currently serves as the Executive Director at PHLDiversity a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

As Executive Director of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau PHLDiversity, Greg is responsible for developing and implementing plans, strategies, and initiatives specifically designed to raise Philadelphia’s image as a diverse multicultural destination leading to hotel room nights and economic impact for the region.

Greg is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University Providence, Rhode Island, with an A.S. Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management; and B.S. Degree in Hospitality Management.

His professional development includes a certification from the Institute for Diversity, Urban League of Philadelphia, Leadership Forum, Leadership Philadelphia, and Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange.

Destination on the Left is joined by Greg DeShields, the Executive Director at PHLDiversity. PHLDiversity is a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau that develops and implements plans, strategies, and initiatives specifically designed to raise Philadelphia’s image as a diverse multicultural destination. During our conversation, Greg talks about why it is so important for businesses to create a strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations AND communities. Then he explains what it takes to implement the strategy for long-term results.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Greg’s journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • How multiculturalism has a financial impact on destinations
  • How DEI continues to evolve as time moves forward
  • Why DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a marathon, not a sprint
  • The business case for creating a DEI strategy
  • How to foster community participation and involvement for diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Why proactive strategy and planning is better for DEI than taking a reactive approach
  • How a collaboration between PHLDiversity and a local LGBT chamber led to new revenue and business for both organizations
  • How podcasting ties into the work that PHLDiversity does

The Expansion of DEI in Travel and Tourism

Greg DeShields is the Executive Director at PHLDiversity, a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is responsible for developing and implementing plans, strategies, and initiatives specifically designed to raise Philadelphia’s image as a diverse multicultural destination leading to hotel room nights and economic impact for the region. During our conversation, Greg talks about why it is so important for businesses to create a strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations AND communities. Then he explains what it takes to implement the strategy for long-term results.

The Evolution of Multiculturalism

After Greg spent some time getting settled in his career, he started to understand the economic impact that multiculturalism had on destinations across the globe. But once he moved from the board of directors to a leadership position in PHLDiversity, he started working to expand the table beyond culture. It embraced all communities like women and LGBT, and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) continues to evolve over the years. Now, Greg and his team are focused on eliminating barriers and creating access for people of color.

Creativity and DEI

Normally we talk about examples of creativity used to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the travel and tourism industry. But in this case, the PHLDiversity organization is an example in and of itself. The organization has been around for over 30 years, and in the late 1980s, Philidelphia was not known as a tourist destination. When Atlantic city started to gain notoriety, the city needed to find a way to engage diverse communities as gaming expanded. This led to the formation of a new organization that brought black voices into the discussion. Community participation has been a key part of their work to this day, and PHLDiversity continues to engage the local population in new and innovative ways.

Episode Transcript

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Oct 21, 2020

Cindy Rodriguez is the Co-Founder of Adirondack Diversity Solutions, a Human Resources consulting firm focusing on diversity and inclusion within the workforce and beyond. Adirondack Diversity Solutions works with organizations to create and execute initiatives that share the organization’s vision, support its mission, and live its values through forward-leaning innovations that materialize the social and economic benefits of a diversified workforce and client base.

With over ten years of Human Resources experience spanning across industries, Cindy delivers innovative human resources solutions that promote transparency in policy and procedures, communication strategies, community engagement, all while embracing and embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into organizational values, culture, policies, and practices.

Destination on the Left is joined by Cindy Rodriguez, Co-founder of Adirondack Diversity Solutions. Her company is an HR consulting firm that designs and implements initiatives around their clients’ visions, missions, and values. As a result, they can capitalize on the social and economic benefits of a diversified work environment. With over ten years of human resources experience, Cindy delivers innovative human resources solutions that promote transparency in policy and procedures, communication strategies, community engagement. On our podcast, Cindy explains how this approach to HR ties into the ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What is is like to be “one of a few”
  • Why there is a lack of representation in consumer campaigns
  • What travel and tourism professionals can do to improve engagement with diverse audiences
  • The work Cindy’s team is doing to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace
  • Why intentionality is such a powerful tool for travel and tourism professionals

Using Creativity and Collaboration to Address Racism

Cindy Rodriguez is the Co-founder of Adirondack Diversity Solutions, an HR consulting firm that designs and implements initiatives around their clients’ visions, missions, and values. With Cindy’s expertise, Adirondack’s clients can capitalize on the social and economic benefits of a diversified work environment. Cindy has over ten years of human resources experience, and she delivers innovative HR solutions that promote transparency in policy and procedures, communication strategies, community engagement. On our podcast, Cindy explains how this approach to HR ties into the ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“One of a Few”

Cindy is a first-generation Latina, and her love for travel and tourism was sparked by the annual trips to her parents’ home countries as she grew up in the United States. Through her experiences, however, Cindy often found herself feeling that she was “one of a few,” and that sparked her passion for the work with diversity, equity, and inclusion that she does today. Wanting those things is not enough. So Cindy partnered with Dr. Donathan Brown to help other organizations carry out those beliefs. From policies and procedures to recruitment and retention, they help clients engage communities of color to create more comprehensive products, programming, and outreach strategies.

Driving Community Engagement

Throughout her career, Cindy and Dr. Brown have relied heavily on creativity and collaboration to address racism in local communities. The Adirondack Experience and The Cooperstown Friends of The Village Library are two great examples. ADS has partnered with them to help tourism leaders of color share their journeys and visions for the future. While they’re helping to put the spotlight on this demographic, they are also engaging the community as a whole with a unique, action-oriented dialogue. The power of creativity and collaboration is limitless, even in unprecedented times.

Episode Transcript

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 14, 2020

Melissa Cherry serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Destinations International. She is responsible for the development and execution of the overall marketing and communications, product engagement, information technology, meetings, and education strategies to promote and elevate the Association’s mission and brand to drive awareness of its impact to advance the success of the destination marketing industry worldwide.

Prior to joining Destinations International, Melissa was senior vice-president for marketing and cultural tourism at Choose Chicago. During her four-year tenure at the city’s official destination marketing organization, she led Choose Chicago’s domestic and international marketing strategies, including all efforts for brand strategy, integrated marketing, research, advertising, official publications and collateral, website, social media, and event marketing. Additionally, she launched the first-ever Cultural Tourism Strategy to increase visitation and awareness to Chicago’s cultural entities, events, and neighborhoods.

John Percy is President and CEO of Destination Niagara USA. It is the official Tourism Promotion Agency and a full-service Destination Marketing Organization serving Niagara Falls and Niagara County, New York/USA. Previously, John served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the organization. Other prior experience includes Vice President of Tourism for the Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau and 15 years in shopping center marketing and management in both Western New York and Detroit, Michigan.

In addition to serving as Vice Chairman for the Board of Governors for the American Bus Association Foundation and on the Board of Directors for ABA’s actual association, John also serves as the current Chair-elect on the Destinations International Foundation Board of Trustees. He also serves on boards for the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce, Niagara Falls Community Mission, and the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.

John is also a co-chair of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion task force for Destinations International, a task force that Melissa Cherry oversees in her role.

Destination on the Left is joined by Melissa Cherry, COO at Destinations International, and John Percy, President and CEO of Destination Niagra USA, to discuss America’s racial unrest. The conversation about equity, diversity, and inclusion can be uncomfortable to have, but it is needed in every aspect of our lives right now. On our podcast, Melissa and John share their personal stories about how they have been impacted by bias. The racial conversation is both a challenge and an opportunity, and there is so much we can do right now to make sure this moment in time does not pass us by.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Melissa and John’s journeys into travel and tourism
  • How equity, diversity, and inclusion manifest in the travel and tourism industry today
  • Melissa and John’s personal experience with racial bias
  • Why the conversation about race is both a challenge and an opportunity
  • How we can use creativity and collaboration to tackle prejudice in travel and tourism
  • Why Destination International’s DEI Committee was created and how it has evolved
  • What we can do NOW to make an impact on racial inequality in the U.S.

Systemic Prejudice in Travel and Tourism

Destination on the Left is joined by Melissa Cherry, COO at Destinations International, and John Percy, President and CEO of Destination Niagra USA, to discuss America’s racial unrest. The conversation about equity, diversity, and inclusion can be uncomfortable to have, but it is needed in every aspect of our lives right now. On our podcast, Melissa and John share their personal stories about how they have been impacted by bias. The racial conversation is both a challenge and an opportunity, and there is so much we can do right now to make sure this moment in time does not pass us by.

Coming Together As One

As the conversation about race is amplified, there is a new sense of urgency and a light at the tunnel. But while there are many opportunities for addressing the issue of race, there are a lot of challenges. Through Melissa and John—a woman of color and a gay, white man—their personal stories show how real systemic prejudice and bias is here in the U.S. It is something that we can’t ignore any longer, and by coming together as one force of creative problem solvers, we can tackle this adversity in our industry once and for all.

The Racial Conversation

Right now, there are a lot more conversations about race and they are easier to have. But only a couple of years ago, we still had to convince people to be a part of the conversation at all. The best thing we can do as a collective is to show empathy and facilitate open discussions about the realities we don’t truly understand. What do our organizations look like? What do our communities look like? Those are the questions we need to be asking ourselves in order to properly direct our problem-solving skills and make a difference.

Episode Transcript

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 7, 2020

In Destination on the Left’s 200th episode, we kick off October’s theme of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Nicole Mahoney shares experience with these issues, and she talks about the different ways her team is working together to live out the ‘equitable’ core value within their company. Learn what we can do to explore, understand, and act on the topic of diversity in the travel and tourism industry.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Host Nicole Mahoney’s experience with the challenges of equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • What Nicole’s team is doing to live out the ‘equitable’ core value within their company
  • What we can do to explore, understand, and act on the topic of diversity in the travel and tourism industry
  • The lessons Nicole learned about diversity in applicant pools during the hiring process
  • How Nicole’s team took a proactive approach to diversity in their company and industry
  • How the team was living out their core values, and where they were falling short
  • Why addressing systemic racism in your organization will impact existing employees, future employees, and clients alike

Addressing the Topic of Diversity in our industry

In Destination on the Left’s 200th episode, we kick off October’s theme of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Nicole Mahoney shares experience with these issues, and she talks about the different ways her team is working together to live out the ‘equitable’ core value within their company. Learn what we can do to explore, understand, and act on the topic of diversity in the travel and tourism industry. In light of recent events in the United States that sparked severe racial unrest, the opportunity to have this conversation could not have come at a better time.

Looking into the Mirror

With racial injustice sweeping the country right now, it is hard to focus on more than race. In the travel and tourism industry alone, racial diversity is a major issue, and it goes all the way to the leadership level of top organizations. As Nicole started to think about this, she realized that even her own company is guilty of homogeneity. Nicole didn’t build a team of white women on purpose, and there was no discrimination in the hiring process—she just didn’t receive a diverse applicant pool. But that is how she and her team *used* to think. After the death of George Floyd, they decided to take a proactive approach to diversity instead of leaving it to circumstance.

A Deep Dive into the Unknown

At first, Nicole and her team weren’t quite sure how to address the issue of diversity in their company and industry. But after exhausting every resource and contact they could pull from their network, a plan started to materialize. They used their ‘equitable’ core value as a framework and starting point in their exploration of systemic racism and diversity in the United States. The team figured out where they were living that core value, and where they were falling short. And as a result, the discoveries they made will shape the policies and actions of the organization as a whole, impacting existing team members, future team members, and clients alike.

Additional Resources:

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