SearchWide Leading CEO Hunt for Visit Syracuse

October 10, 2017 – Executive recruiting firm SearchWide has been retained by Visit Syracuse, a tourism promotion organization, to find its new CEO. Vice president Kellie Henderson is leading the search.

Visit Syracuse focuses on building the tourism industry for Syracuse and Onondaga County, NY. It is an affiliate of CenterState CEO, an economic development group for central New York state, and Onondaga County’s official tourism promotion agency. The group leads in the production of over $863 million in direct visitor spending annually to the local economy, said Visit Syracuse. It is the area’s largest accredited destination marketing organization.

Visit Syracuse’s CEO will be responsible for providing overall leadership to team members to consistently deliver quality programming related to the mission and goals of the group, said SearchWide. The CEO is expected to coordinate communications to the board of directors, and also serves as the primary liaison with elected officials and community leaders.

Experience Needed

Visit Syracuse wants an executive with a minimum of seven years of experience in leadership, businesses, marketing, with a strong emphasis on the tourism and/or meeting & convention industry, said SearchWide. Knowledge of marketing, sales, business theories, practices and procedures is also essential. Supervisory experience with proven ability to recruit, train and develop staff is also desired.

Ms. Henderson, of the recruitment firm, works in all sectors of the hospitality, travel and tourism industry. She is the leader of SearchWide’s industrywide diversity initiative, in addition to her involvement in several industry organizations.


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The Recruiters

SearchWide is a full service executive search firm dedicated to the travel, tourism & convention, hotel & lodging industries and sports & entertainment sectors. It specializes in C-level, director and management level searches for Fortune 500 corporations to mid-sized public and private companies.

The firm recently filled chief executive officer positions for Visit Aurora, Visit Baltimore, the Greater Newark Convention Center & Visitors Bureau, Visit West Hollywood, Kentucky State Fair Board, and the Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau. SearchWide is currently engaged in searches for top leaders at the Mobile Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Empire State Building Company, among others.

Last spring, SearchWide brought aboard John Brich, former director of sales for the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, as a vice president. Mr. Brich takes the lead in managing the recruiter’s hotel and resort practice. He is charged with opening a new regional office in the Cincinnati area, the sixth location for the firm. Mr. Brich previously served with the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureaufrom.

An Industry Rebounding

After suffering a massive hit during the Great Recession, employment and hiring within the travel, hotel and hospitality industry has begun to rebound. In the last year, according to one set of survey metrics, the industry added 527,000 jobs (2.6 million since 2004). That number is likely to increase this year as global tourism and traveling in general are expected to rise.

Overall, the travel and hospitality market is estimated to generate an economic impact of $6.5 trillion worldwide this year. In the U.S. alone the $1.5 trillion industry accounts for nearly eight million jobs – more than five percent of the total jobs nationwide.

Many in the industry are hoping to gain from the change in the White House.  “My hope is that Donald Trump will be good for the economy and a voice for the hotel industry on Capitol Hill,” said Keith Kefgen, managing director and CEO of AETHOS, a human capital advisory firm focused on the hospitality sector. “Travel is a key indicator of economic health, and I believe Mr. Trump’s low tax, small government approach is good for business.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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