In this time of global crisis and uncertainty, we put the call out to leaders, CEOs, strategists and consultants to sit down and tell us, in their own words, what is going on and what is going to happen next in this vital global industry.
For destination organizations around the world, 2021 marks the year the recovery starts. But success in the post-COVID era will likely require a new business model for many of us. For those whose past success was dependent upon maximizing the number of people in a contained space, welcome to your new day. For those whose business has been propped up by government subsidies or a lack of competition, the clock is ticking. Destination marketers are quickly recognizing the importance of engaging their local audience and rethinking every traditional marketing strategy, albeit with depleted budgets. To paraphrase Darwin, adapt or die.
I wish I could take credit for that prescient and well crafted passage, but the truth is it was written back in September by one of my favourite CEOs in the industry. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in accounting and finance, he worked at GE under Jack Welch in the corporation’s halcyon days, and for 19 years he ran the wildly successful Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. And just when you think he might be winding down, he picks up roots and moves 2,000 kilometers south to lead Puerto Rico's first ever destination marketing organization as they emerge from the crippling after effects of Hurricane Maria.
To say Brad Dean is not afraid of a challenge is an understatement for sure.
In the past five years Puerto Rico has had to face the challenges of the Zika Virus (which peaked in 2016), Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and COVID-19 in 2020.
But there is a positive message coming out of all of this, says Brad. “We've been through so many things. But you know, when you consider what the island went through, I mean, Hurricanes Irma, and Maria devastated the island. But you know, here's the good news, through the worst natural disaster in the history of the U.S. we were actually driving record numbers just two years later. So recovery can happen quickly. And that's important not just to Puerto Rico, that's important for all of us to know”
The concept of engagement and communication figure large in Brad’s development philosophy, “for me, stakeholder engagement is really pretty simple. If you look at what we are, what we all do collectively, we are there to promote, protect and improve our partners and our communities. So to engage your stakeholders in an effort to do that, it's important to be to keep them informed, to keep them inspired, and to keep them involved.” says Brad. “What I've always looked at in organisations that I've led is, are we informing, do people know what we're doing and how we're measuring success and why?”