Albany - Michele Vennard recently announced that she will be leaving her position as the President & CEO of the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The transition will occur in late spring of 2018.
This transition has been a year in the making, and is part of a carefully orchestrated planning process, with input from stakeholders and the Board of Directors for the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The process began with a full Organizational Assessment of CVB Operations last January. That assessment, conducted by the firm DMOProz identified areas that needed to be addressed to assure a successful leadership transition. The organizations worked closely with the board to assure that all points were addressed, and a strategic plan for succession has been created.
The plans include but are not limited to:
- Location of Visitors Bureau offices and the optimum function for a destination Visitor Center or Visitor Hub. The CVB is working closely with the city of Albany on this initiative.
- Changes to Partnership (membership) development and sustained support to help the agency grow and expand. A new partner-centric process has been developed and the bureau has created a new Partnership and Community Relations position to help accomplish these goals.
- Future funding. The Assessment identified that Albany’s CVB funding level ranks well below that of other regional destinations. Identifying future opportunities will be an ongoing priority.
- Leadership transition was also identified as a key priority and that process is being developed.
Michele Vennard’s Bio
Vennard’s career includes 30+ years in the travel and tourism is New York State. She began as the first tourism Director for the ACCVB in 1981, the year that the hotel occupancy tax was enacted. The Bureau focused on attracting new meeting and group tour business to Albany. In 1984 Vennard became the Marketing Director for NYS Destinations a private destination marketing firm. The company built programming for many clients in the Adirondack region and throughout the state that included market representation and special events focusing on New York’s Tourism destinations.
In 1987 Michele had the opportunity to become Deputy Commissioner of Tourism for the I Love New York program part of the NYS Department of Economic Development (ESD). For the next five years Michele worked to build a foundation of market specific and regionally focused travel programs that highlighted the entire state both domestically and Internationally. In 1992 Michele became the President & CEO of the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau, where she has endeavored to build important programs that add to the economic vitality and quality of life of Albany County and the surrounding region.
During her time with the bureau, she was instrumental in developing plans for a new convention center. She is a Board member of the Albany Capital Center Authority and was integral in getting the Albany Capital Center project completed in 2017, and remains committed to helping make Albany “visitor-ready.” She initiated the new Albany A2D program, to help train frontline staff and raise awareness about the importance of tourism. She serves on the boards of Capitalize Albany Corporation, Palace Performing Arts Center, the NYS Canal Recreationway Commission and is Vice-Chair of Canal New York. She is also the administrator for the Capital-Saratoga Tourism Region and participates in the Hudson Valley Tourism organization. To help set the bureau up for the future, Vennard and her team recently underwent a rebranding, adopting a new identity for the 41-year-old visitors bureau, ‘Discover Albany.’ The bureau is also launching a new website, and moving more of their marketing efforts to digital.
By creating key partnerships like these, pioneering new programs, and staying abreast of key market trends, Vennard has truly set the agency up for the future.