Vice President of Convention Sales & Marketing ✪ Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
Bringing Out the Best in This Rich, Coastal Destination
What’s new in your destination that meeting planners are most excited about? Virginia Beach understands the need to make the destination mobile-friendly. In the past year, our website was made available to all mobile devices in a user-friendly format, making the promotion of the destination sustainable as well as portable.
What challenge do you think the meetings industry has successfully overcome in the past year or so? What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry in 2012? The strategic alliance of our industry’s hospitality partners (i.e., U.S. Travel, PCMA, and more) has done an incredible job of reigniting the face of tourism and illustrating the value of face-to-face meetings. The economy is still a huge threat to our industry, and the race to relevance is still foremost on the association executive’s mind.
What single asset makes you most proud to represent your destination? Virginia Beach has a winning combination of passionate people working in the meetings and hospitality industry, and a safe — yet hip — vibe. When you are here, you feel it and love it. When you leave, you miss it and can’t wait to return.
What piece of advice would you give to a young professional entering the meetings and conventions industry? First, find a mentor. Our industry is built on relationships, so what better way to fuel your growth than through an incredible role model who has connections and lessons to impart? Second, don’t just perform the work — connect the dots. Make that connection to the big picture.
SOCIAL SAVVY: The Virginia Beach CVB is currently updating its online meeting-plan- ner tool kit at www. VisitVirginiaBeach .com with new social- media tools, said Al Hutchinson.
How has your team responded to group requests to incorporate CSR initiatives into their meet- ings? What unique CSR op- portunities does your destination offer for groups? In May 2011, we
CHANGERS 98 pcma convene January 2012
hosted the two-day “One Beach, One World” FAM tour that showcased some of our most sustainably and socially conscious meeting venues, including JT’s Grom- met Island Beach Park & Playground for EveryBODY (the country’s first 100-per- cent handicap-accessible oceanfront park) and the Virginia Beach Convention Center, the first in the U.S. to achieve LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings. Attendees also assembled toiletry bags for a local homeless charity. We now use this “One Beach, One World” platform in our official CSR program. n