August 18, 2021 – Retained executive recruitment firm SearchWide Global has been enlisted to find the next chief sales officer for VisitPittsburgh, the tourism promotion agency for Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County. The individual will also serve as executive director of MeetPittsburgh, the division of the organization charged with attracting and supporting the delivery of business events. Senior vice president Kellie Henderson is leading the assignment. “The chief sales officer leads and oversees the strategic development and implementation of all sales activities within VisitPittsburgh and as the executive director of MeetPittsburgh is responsible for strategic development of the MeetPittsburgh vertical, optimizing the results of short- and long-term sales effort,” said SearchWide Global. “This position is responsible for driving performance and meeting organizational goals of sustained growth in sales and exemplary service to clients and stakeholders.”
Top priorities of the role include fully assessing the operation of the organization, the sales division, the strategic plan and the current budget, said the search firm. The chief sales officer must also make recommendations on new and creative strategies to rebuild the sales team and identify target markets.
Building credibility with the internal team and externally with stakeholders in the community is vital to the role. The new sales leader must also maintain effective and ongoing communication with partners. The position also involves ensuring that diversity, equity and inclusion is woven into the fabric of the organization and strategic plan.
“The chief sales officer must be an inclusive community builder and a professional ambassador of the organization, to achieve the goal of increasing our market’s overall competitiveness,” said VisitPittsburgh.
Candidates should have the skills, experience, motivation, talent, and ability to develop, establish and maintain collaborative relationships externally with the hospitality community, key stakeholders, and travel industry partners, to engage them in supporting events that drive economic growth. Internally, the individual works collaboratively with all vertical leaders to develop sales and marketing programs that promote the overall organizational mission and achieve goals that drive economic growth from business events.
A bachelor’s degree in tourism/hospitality, sales, business management, marketing, or a related field is required. An advanced degree in business, marketing, communications, or another related field is preferred.
Prospects must have 10 years’ minimum sales and management success in a major group-oriented hotel, convention, or destination marketing organization, said the search firm. Seasoned sales and relationship building experience, particularly in the convention and hospitality industry, is also expected.
Candidates should also have strong supervisory, leadership and management experience. A certified destination management executive credential is strongly preferred. They must also possess a valid driver’s license and passport.
Superior oral and written communications are essential for this position. The right candidate will be a strong presenter, self-aware and effectively relate and communicate with tact, sensitivity and diplomacy with diverse personalities, external groups, clients, partners, and internal staff.
Ideally, candidates will have the following characteristics: relationship oriented, a strategic thinker, empathetic, a consensus builder, innovative, a motivator, outgoing personality, visionary, transparent, organized, goal oriented, with a steadfast leadership style.
Established in 1935, VisitPittsburgh is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region. VisitPittsburgh creates, plans, and implements sales, marketing and public relations programs that attract conventions, tradeshows, media, and leisure travelers into the Greater Pittsburgh area, thereby ensuring the area of certain economic benefits. The non-profit achieves its goals through the combined efforts of its sales, marketing and public relations staff who actively solicit convention and tradeshow business, media coverage and leisure travel for the Greater Pittsburgh area along with additional professional internal staff who support and promote these efforts.
SearchWide Global, based in St. Paul, MN, is a full-service executive recruitment firm primarily for companies in the travel, tourism, hospitality, convention, trade association, venue management and experiential marketing industries. The firm specializes in C-level and director-level executive searches for companies ranging in size from Fortune 500 corporations to mid-sized public and private companies and associations.
SearchWide Global Finds CEO for Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
SearchWide Global placed Martha Sheridan as president and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Mike Gamble, president and chief executive officer of SearchWide Global, led the assignment along with vice president, Kellie Henderson. In coming to Boston, Ms. Sheridan became just the second woman, currently, to lead a first-tier market Convention & Visitors Bureau in the U.S.
Ms. Henderson works in all sectors of hospitality, travel, and tourism. She has experience recognizing clients’ needs, identifying best-in-class talent. She also leads SearchWide Global’s industry-wide diversity initiative. She serves on the Destinations International Foundation board of trustees is involved in several other industry organizations. Previously, Ms. Henderson worked in the destination marketing organization and hotel industry.
In the spring of 2020, SearchWide Global placed Jerad Bachar as president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh following a nationwide search. Mr. Bachar had been serving as interim CEO. “Jerad’s domestic and international tourism experience, as well as his familiarity with the Pittsburgh tourism sector and VisitPittsburgh, were major factors in our decision,” said Bryan Iams, chairman of the VisitPittsburgh’s board of directors. “And his exceptional leadership as interim CEO during these unprecedented times really made him stand out among our candidates.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media