100 Years of Advancing Destinations

Community Leadership: Some Last Words from Victoria Isley as DMAI's COO

Author: Joy Lin
Posted: May 14, 2014
Blog Topics Covered:
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Photo: At the 2014 Destination & Travel Foundation Dinner, Victoria Isley (right) poses with Susan Ungaro (middle), President of the James Beard Foundation and recipient of the Spirit of Hospitality Award, and Craig Davis (left), Chair of the Destination & Travel Foundation Board.

It's with great pride and bittersweet fondness that we dedicate today's blog to Victoria Isley, EVP and COO of DMAI and Executive Director of the Destination & Travel Foundation, before she packs her bags and moves to New York City to represent the Bermuda Tourism Authority as its Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.

In the time that Vic has been with us at DMAI, we have all benefited in some way from her vision -– whether through education programming, fundraising, research, marketing and communications – and become closer as an industry. She sits down with us now to share the journey as she experienced it.

You've been a part of the destination marketing community through DMAI long before you joined the organization as staff. What has this experience meant to you personally and professionally?

It’s been a privilege to contribute to an industry –- really a community –- that has been so good to me throughout my career. My first (then IACVB) annual convention was in 1996, and many of the DMO pros I met then have remained mentors, colleagues and friends these many years.

Here at the “mothership,” we’ve progressed to a position of both leading and responding to the industry. I’m most proud of the collective body of work we have created that really has advanced the industry, harnessed its passion and re-energized the community about its position in the marketplace.

We’ve also created greater connections between the work of the Foundation and the Association, and we are all the better for it. What I loved most was putting it all together and bringing to life the power and importance of the industry –- through amping up professional development content, executing events like the Foundation Dinner this year, or advocating for research like the upcoming Destination Promotion:  An Engine for Economic Development.

What I’ll remember most is the amazing encouragement and support from industry leadership, and all of those who were willing and eager to contribute.

You’ve spent a significant part of your career with DMOs and now you are returning to a destination. Can you share how it has been different to spend this time at DMAI, our industry trade association? What perspective have you gained at DMAI that you believe would help all DMO pros to know?

What’s actually similar is the number of members and stakeholders. What’s different is they aren’t all in our backyard like DMOs, they are all over the world!

The demands DMOs have to manage within their communities with so many stakeholder groups (often with different agendas) while keeping their eye on the customer is not to be underestimated for sure! So, I’ve really really enjoyed the strategic 30,000 foot view, anticipating and surfacing the needs of the industry and then determining what strategies and initiatives will help move the collective forward. I look forward to staying a part of that movement.

While the Bermuda Tourism Authority is only recently formed, the destination has worked hard to establish a forward-looking DMO and structured it around the unique needs of the destination. Can you describe the model and what makes it interesting?

One of the aspects that was really appealing about the Bermuda Tourism Authority is that they have really structured it as the “next generation” of a DMO. The structure of the organization addresses both destination marketing as well as destination management, with a commitment to product development, visitor experience and integrated marketing.

The current position, size and product mix suggest a high degree of segmentation, which I find interesting and challenging. I believe there are some truly amazing untold stories of Bermuda that will inspire more visitors to explore the island, and I’m looking forward to working with the community and industry to help tell them.

As a 20-year veteran of the DMO industry, you’ve witnessed significant shifts, rebounds, and successes. As DMAI celebrates 100 years and beyond in July, what is the one thing that you’d love to see our industry do more of in the future?

Let's challenge ourselves to continue to be aggressive in pursuit of our mission and not be afraid to evolve. Keep asking and answering strategic questions and function more and more like the businesses we are.

Would you like to share any final remarks before signing off?

I really appreciate the opportunity I had to join DMAI and make a difference. The network of support that I’ve been fortunate enough to nurture has grown immensely.  Thanks to all of you for that.

You’re all invited to Bermuda!

We so appreciate all the work Vic has dedicated to push the industry forward and will miss her leadership almost as much as we'll miss all the chocolate pies she her husband Joe, bakes for us. Please join us in wishing Vic all the best in her new adventure with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and take her up on the invitation to visit Bermuda!