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.”