Meet Tracy Halliwell, head of business and conventions for Visit London.
Convention and visitors bureaus offer a variety of job opportunities for those who are seeking travel industry event jobs in tourism. Destination marketing professionals work closely with their membership for a given geographic area, usually at the city, state or country levels. Those who seek opportunities at the administration levels, such as director and above, should have a combination of skills, such as marketing, public relations, membership management and creativity skills. And like most other jobs in the event industry, the hours are not 9 to 5.
Professionals in business tourism spend a lot of time with meeting and event professionals who host events in their destinations, as well as those who work as suppliers of meetings and events services in their destinations.
Tracy Halliwell, head of business and conventions at Visit London, has the challenge of positioning London as a business destination while taking a lead role for her destination in preparing for the London 2012 Games. She shares her background as to how she chose to pursue a tourism career and advice for those who wish to pursue opportunities on the tourism side of events industry.
To me, a destination marketing professional is:
Someone who’s passionate about their destination, has the ability to combine the skills of marketing, sales, consultancy, forward planning and strategy, and can combine the often opposing objectives between commercial success and political objectivity, acting on behalf of an entire city and all of it’s constituent parts.
Current event and meeting priorities:
Bringing the destination together to bid for major citywide events. And planning for 2012, with London as the host city for the Olympic Games – particular emphasis on Olympic legacy and improving the green meeting credentials of the city.
Summary of career at Visit London:
Heading up in effect London’s Convention Bureau, joined just after London won the bid to host the games, so have been instrumental in formulating the UK Events industry Fair Pricing and Practices Charter, a new City Wide accommodation charter, and refocusing the venue finding team as an Event Solutions Team, who now assist any Event planner in ‘unlocking London’.
Also established a senior association and major congress sales team, and together with a cross partner ‘Team London’ approach, we are working through some of the barriers planners encounter when considering London as a future destination.
How did you discover the events & meetings industry?
From schooldays, working in various casual waitressing jobs, then hotels and restaurants, and enjoyed the creativity and diversity of the hospitality industry. From hotels and football clubs, it was a quick transition into the events and meetings world.
Perspective on current and future challenges for destination marketing?
Reconciling the global desire to cut carbon footprints, whilst trying to encourage people to get on a plane and fly to a meeting destination.
Keeping ahead of the game… So many new destinations are emerging all the time, requiring a constant need to keep reinventing your own destination.
Favorite accomplishment (job):
Sales Manager of a small regional hotel, which we closed, refurbished, repositioned and reopened 12 months later…great fun, and a great sense of achievement.
Favorite accomplishment (personal):
Has to be having Children.
How many meetings/events per year do you handle?
Across the team, 30 of our own Visit London events, but we worked on over 800 client events last year alone!
What is the typical budget per event?
Anywhere between a few thousand pounds to a few million on the bigger association events.
Favorite part of the job?
Visiting venues for the first time…you never know what you’re going to discover!
Biggest challenge to the job?
Trying to win major pieces of businesses without actually owning any of the resources that go into the delivery… being a successful middleman.
How do you unwind after completing a major project?
Ideal unwind would be to spend the day in a spa…or shoe shopping!
Your role models is and why?
I get inspired with the team I work with at Visit London; we all spur each other on to be creative and passionate about our great city.
What advice would you give to a new event or meeting planner?
Know your audience; plan ahead for all contingencies and enjoy yourself.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to pursue a career in destination marketing?
Keep an open mind, consider every problem as an opportunity, and make sure you have an understanding family who don’t mind how many evenings and weekends you have to work!
BSc in Hotel & Catering Management
Industry involvement (bullet list of professional associations/board positions):
UK Board member MPI, and membership in SITE, ISES, ICCA, Eventia/BACD and DMAI. In addition, 2012 Events Industry Steering Group and UK Business Visitors and Events Partnership.