Our readers have been introduced to each of the winners in an individual profile in immediate past issues of The Travel Vertical and they’ll all be recognized during the 22nd Annual eTourism Summit on Sept. 20–22, 2021 in Las Vegas.
What’s an Emerging Tourism Star? Savvy individuals (of any age!) in destination marketing and attractions that are new to the eTourism Community of digital travel and tourism professionals or have risen to the challenges of a role.
- Winners will be directly connected with a travel and tourism leader as a mentor
- Winners receive a scholarship to attend eTourism Summit
- Winners will participate in a panel conversation at eTourism Summit moderated by MMGY
- One winner will fill the eTS Emerging Tourism Star Advisory Board Seat (an annual appointment)
Q: What timing! With the appointment of your new CEO just days before Covid hit, how did you and the leadership team focus on the most important things?
A: COVID showed us how vulnerable our industry is, and not just for our Corpus Christi community, but for the entire travel and tourism industry. Our leadership team had plenty of internal discussions on what was needed: to first and foremost support the recovery of our visitor economy and to have long-term change to positively impact our community.
We knew that 2020 was the right time to uplift our foundation and start fresh, so we took the time to fully develop a comprehensive three-year strategic plan inclusive of a rebrand, a new mission statement, vision and values statement. This was the time to look into the mirror and determine who we are as a community value, as Corpus Christians.
Q: Can you tell us more about how Visit Corpus Christi managed a top-to-bottom audit and rebrand during Covid?
A: With transition to remote work and countless Zoom calls, Visit Corpus Christi managed to complete this three-year strategic plan, starting with stakeholder interviews for input. We then clearly knew the most important change was to redefine our values and develop a strong destination brand.
Since then, we have been dedicated to our organization to being inclusive, collaborative, driven, bold and true. Redeveloping our internal and external working structure ultimately helped us be collectively united with our community, leaders and stakeholders to restructure our organization and develop an all-new brand. After 2020, Visit Corpus Christi is now accredited through the DMAP program, onboarded a new marketing agency who have immensely helped us in redefining our brand, and positioned our north star: for Corpus Christi to become the Gulf Coast Capital for coastal and outdoor recreational experiences.
Q: From a personal point of view, what were your biggest challenges?
A: My biggest challenge was balancing a new leadership role in my career, being a new mom to my son Coen during COVID, helping my stepson Cameron get through a year of remote schooling, and managing to work remotely under new leadership. Just so much – juggling these new roles all at once! The support of my husband, family, coworkers, and tight-knit leadership team really helped me to crush those challenges, whether personal or professional. I couldn’t have done it without the support I had, and it has definitely made me so much stronger in all aspects of my life.
Q: A new vision, a new mission, new values — it’s a lot. What’s been the response to “Gulf Coast Capital”?
A: We’ve had overwhelmingly positive and supportive response from the community and our leadership. Our plan is designed around the idea to position Corpus Christi as the Gulf Coast Capital, and it isn’t just a tag line – it’s the mission for our team, and we’re only at the starting line. Tourism builds community, and the Corpus Christi community are our biggest advocates.
We’ve selected ‘Gulf Coast Capital’ to be our rallying cry for Corpus Christians to showcase pride in where we live, work and play, and I’m excited to get the world hearing it more as we continue to show world what Corpus Christi means to me and my community.
Q: What has community meant to Visit Corpus Christi during the past 18 months?
A: We have had our focus on our amazing community more than ever before. Our community is our biggest advocate, who tells the true and authentic story of us, who our city is and represents. For our tourism industry to be successful, we must collectively use our megaphone to rally together our community to educate and advocate why tourism is important to our everyday lives.
Our Marketing team had developed a community pride campaign this summer to bring together our friends and neighbors to show them the positive impact of tourism through storytelling, public service and economic impact. We want our community to have full input on what we do and have buy-in of our destination’s brand to collectively unite on our vision of putting Corpus Christi on the map as the Gulf Coast Capital. Together, we will celebrate and enhance the quality of life for our community and bring in visitors to visit our hotels, restaurants, businesses and attractions. That’s what being in the Gulf Coast Capital really means – to be part of our diverse, inclusive coastal community.