Greater Boston CVB head Martha J. Sheridan has found that staying in step with colleagues is the best way to navigate the pandemic. 

Martha J. Sheridan has worn a lot of hats and earned a lot of accolades in her 30-year career. Currently president and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (GBCVB) and a member of the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors, she’s a former chair of Destination Marketing Association International and a recipient of both the MPI New England Chapter President’s Award and Supplier of the Year Award. During her 12 years heading the Providence/Warwick CVB, she was named Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s Woman of the Year, among countless other distinctions. 

“I love the mission that we’re tasked with, which is creating jobs and prosperity for the communities we represent,” Sheridan says, “and I have deep love for the people at every level of the hospitality industry.”

Sheridan took over the reins of the GBCVB in early 2019 and soon was providing strategic leadership to the organization’s 1,200 members, a role made immeasurably more difficult by the emerging pandemic. “Dealing with the pandemic has been a roller-coaster ride, quite frankly,” Sheridan admits. “There’s been a lot of hard work and collaboration both with my team locally and my counterparts across the country to provide our constituents with clear communications and expectations to the extent that it’s possible.”

To help keep herself and her colleagues grounded, Sheridan and Anissa Ladd, of the Providence CVB, formed “100 days of walking,” a virtual walking group. “We used the hashtag ‘walking together while apart’ and invited our Facebook group to join us in 100 consecutive days of walking outside, rain, snow, sun, whatever. We had challenges, like scavenger hunts where everyone had to post photos of themselves with, say, a hot pink object or something that begins with the letter P. It was an incredible lifeline.”

The 100 days have ended but Sheridan is still walking almost daily, and she remains “bullish” on the future of the meetings industry. “More than ever,” she says, “I firmly believe that nothing can replace in-person meetings. Commerce is conducted more effectively and relationships are built stronger when you meet people in person.” 

 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 

 

Event planning and experience design go hand in hand. Just ask Maria Moyano, experience designer for the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC), based in NYC. “I think that everything is an event. You can go have coffee, and that’s an event. Everything is also an experience. You feel happy, and that’s an experience. It’s about what you are trying to get out of the event—and then how does an experience elevate it,” says Moyano.

 

In the wake of COVID-19, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) set out to provide planners with up-to-date intel and sound advice, appointing Dr. David Nash, founding dean emeritus of the Jefferson College of Population Health, in the process as its chief health advisor. Dr. Nash and Kavin Schieferdecker, senior vice president of the CVB’s convention division, share how the partnership came to be and its potential lasting impact.