Five Minutes With ... Deana Ivey
President | Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp
Deana Ivey, who was elevated to President of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC) in early 2022, has been an integral force in shaping the Music City brand, creating and attracting major events, and marketing Nashville around the world. Ivey joined NCVC in 1997 and previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to her work at her current organization, Ivey served the tourism industry for 10 years in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
In Nashville, when the Opryland USA theme park closed in 1997, our hospitality industry changed from marketing to families to creating the Music City brand to drive visitation and target a larger market. The NCVC was central to creating the brand, developing community support and executing the brand in our marketing, PR and sales. We created a Brand Promise to provide visitors with "the ultimate musical entertainment experience, celebrated throughout our diverse creative, cultural and entertainment offerings, and presented in an authentic, unique, friendly and unpretentious atmosphere." To be in the middle of that transition was a great way to learn about pivoting during challenging times.
Obviously, with the pandemic, we all learned how to deal with the certainty of uncertainty. We changed our strategy by focusing on ways to strengthen our local community and supporting local government during this time of crisis. We directed marketing efforts to help local music venues and restaurants survive lockdowns, everything from hosting concert livestreams and supporting alcohol-to-go sales to asking local residents to support their neighborhood establishments. It was a good learning process for a destination marketing organization like us to direct our marketing to the Nashville community instead of visitors while at the same time balancing how and when to promote the city to visitors to begin returning during a pandemic.
Workforce continues to be a challenge. We are fortunate to have created, long before the pandemic, a workforce program called Hospitality Works, which hosts a jobs board and a hospitality education program that provides employee training on customer service and city attractions. We know we need to focus on both increasing the number of employees and helping employers invest in their training. It's also more important than ever that we educate young workers on the career options available in the hospitality industry.
There are some good tools that came out of the pandemic that can serve the industry well as we look to the future, specifically from the digital world. As destination marketers, we have discovered very creative ways to talk to our clients and to reach new markets with limited budgets.
ADVICE FOR NEWCOMERS
This is a great industry to make a lifelong career. It takes hard work, creative thinking and some long hours, but the payoff is amazing when you see so many enjoying their vacations as a result of the effort you put in.
Edited by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in the May/Jun '22 issue of Groups Today.