SearchWide Seeking New CEO for Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

May 3, 2018 – 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. This has created a massive uptick of hiring within the travel sector.

Executive recruiting firm SearchWide was recently tapped by the Augusta (GA) Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) to lead its search for a new CEO. Barry White stepped down in February after leading the organization for 23 years. SearchWide vice president Kellie Henderson is heading the search.

The incoming leader will serve as the chief staff executive of the ACVB under the general supervision of the board of directors. The new CEO will be charged with directing and controlling all administrative and operational activities and programs for the organization, said SearchWide. In cooperation with the treasurer and the finance committee, the executive is responsible for developing annual budgets and operating within the approved budgets. The individual is responsible for the financial management of the daily operations of the organization.

Key Characteristics

Candidates should have a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree in business, marketing or tourism, equivalent professional industry experience or 10 to 15 years of related experience and/or training.

Among the qualifications that the ACVB seeks are:

  • Fundraising experience and knowledge;
  • Experience working with boards and/or multiple stakeholder groups, including local political officials;
  • Experience selling and leading a sales team that pursued large conventions/meetings;

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  • Demonstrated success growing an organization and strong business acumen;
  • Knowledge of the meetings and tourism industry, its distribution channels and its customer base;
  • Experience evaluating the internal organization’s strategic plan, work with the board and key stakeholders, gaining buy-in to develop and implement potential enhancements to update the company’s strategic plan, including, but not limited to, staffing, deployment and current programs.

Ms. Henderson, of the Woodbury, MN-based search 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.

Experienced Recruiters

SearchWide is a full-service executive search firm focused on 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.


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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.

Recently, SearchWide unveiled a new recruiting service specifically for customers looking to fill management roles quickly. The new service, SearchWide Connect, will bring speed of placement to the market, without sacrificing the quality of candidates, said the search firm.

“This division of SearchWide is led by a team of young and smart industry professionals who exhibit the ability to quickly find tomorrow’s industry leaders,” said Mike Gamble, president and CEO of the firm. “With unemployment at an all-time low and the war on talent at an all-time high, speed to market is critically important to many of our clients, especially in the hotel and resort sector.”

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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