Last Friday, the Virginia Beach tourism industry welcomed Elliott Ferguson to our community. Elliott is the Chairman of the Board of the United States Travel Association (USTA) and CEO of Destination DC, the Nation Capital’s destination marketing organization.
During his visit, he met with members of the CVB Community Task Force which is evaluating the governance structure of the CVB. The Task Force will be making recommendations to the City Council concerning CVB administrative and management topics to improve performance and outcomes for the organization. Elliott shared with this group management lessons specific to his tenure as the leader of one of the top performing CVBs in the Nation. Destination DC is currently booking over 2,000,000 room nights annually, and DC has repeatedly been recognized as one of the world’s premier destinations.
Elliott also shared with a wider community audience important lessons concerning inclusion and diversity from two perspectives. First, he strongly advocated for improving the level of minority participation in management level positions within the travel and tourism sector. Across the nation, there is an obvious void of opportunities for people of color and a move to improve this situation must become a higher industry priority.
Second, Elliott suggests that destinations must become more welcoming and accommodating to diverse audiences that visit our communities. He recommends that in order to reach these consumers more innovative marketing and sales strategies need to be developed. From his perspective, this is a winning approach for CVBs as they market their tourism products to an increasingly more diverse and multicultural tourism customer. And, tourism businesses need to continually improve their tourism products to better align their offerings with these ever-changing consumer attitudes and desires.
We are grateful to Elliott for the time he took to share these valuable insights with us during his visit.
As always, feel free to reach out to me directly with questions or comments.
Bill Hanbury, CVB Executive Advisor
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