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Selling Boston to the World
Martha Sheridan is president & CEO of Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (GBCVB), the primary private sector marketing and visitor services organization charged with the development of meetings, conventions and tourism-related business. We spoke to Martha about vacationers returning to Boston, the rebounding meetings industry, and Dine Out Boston.
Tell us about your background and how you came to lead the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (GBCVB).
I have been engaged in destination marketing for the better part of 30 years. I began my career at a very small RTC in southern Rhode Island and then worked in Providence and Newport in a variety of roles, ultimately landing the CEO job in Providence which I held for twelve years. All of that experience prepared me to lead GBCVB which I have been doing for the past 3 years. I have to say that working for this organization, alongside my colleagues from the other MA RTCs has been beyond what I imagined. Such an amazing destination and tourism community!
The Bureau’s latest data reveals that Americans have an increasingly positive ‘ready-to-travel’ mindset. How do you convince prospective vacationers to visit greater Boston in 2022?
We deploy targeted seasonal campaigns to draw attention to the multitude of visitor experiences in Boston. The pandemic has taught us, and our destination partners, to think differently about how we position this dynamic city. In particular, we feature outdoor activities throughout the year whether it’s curling or skating in the winter, hiking in the spring and fall or water activities in the summer, we know that this is very appealing to travelers right now.
The convention & meetings industry is showing positive movement. Tell us about the Meet Smart campaign and US Travel Association’s Meetings Mean Business campaign.
Meet Smart is a campaign that evolved from a previous campaign called Meet Safe that aimed to assure meeting planners that Boston venues are conducting meetings safely with the best interest of delegates in mind. Meet Smart launched in January with an added incentive – a discount on certain meeting components. Early results are showing that this effort will be very successful in luring meetings here during our off-peak season.
I am honored to co-chair the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, which is a vital effort to ensure that the meeting sector not only recovers from the devastation of the pandemic but continues to thrive in the future. We know that nothing beats face-to-face meetings, and we are committed to elevating the profile of this vital sector and highlighting the economic and cultural value in the US and across the world.
We have to ask about Dine Out Boston one of our favorite culinary programs. What’s on the menu this year for residents and visitors alike?
Dine out Boston will take place for two weeks this month (March 13-26) and for the first time since the start of the pandemic will feature nearly 125 restaurants. This year our goal is to encourage residents and visitors to “Get Out” and “Dine Out” and also spend a night in one of our hotels. The menus this year look amazing, and we are so excited to welcome patrons back to our fabulous restaurants.
Massachusetts is busy in March with Women’s History, Irish Heritage and Maple Syrup being celebrated. What do you and your family like to do to mark these occasions?
For Women’s History we try and take in an exhibit related to this topic. A couple of years ago we visited the Museum of Fine Arts and this year we plan to enjoy the Frieda Kahlo Exhibit. To celebrate our Irish Heritage, we go all in on St. Patrick’s Day, including visiting our favorite pubs and enjoying traditional Irish food at home.
Finally, when family, friends or business contacts come to town, where do you take them to show them the essence of Boston?
There are so many options to consider here. I am particularly fond of exploring Boston’s beautiful neighborhoods and savoring the diverse architecture. I live in the South End so a visit to the SOWA Outdoor Market with a stop at one of my favorite local restaurants is always on the agenda.
Thank you, Martha.
For more about the GBCVB, visit BostonUSA.com.