Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, the City-funded marketing organization, has hired a director of communications and promoted two staff members, in its words, “in an effort to improve customer service and administration of its offices and Visitor Information Centers.”
Wendy O’Dea is the new CVB director of communications, Debbie Lee-Nguyen has been made vice president of business development, and Mindy Lansing is now operations manager.
O’Dea, a long-time resident of Santa Monica, will take over many of Lee-Nguyen’s previous day-to-day operations of the marketing department, as well as developing “a comprehensive press and public relations outreach program.” Such programs were previously handled by consultants.
Prior to joining CVB, O’Dea was a travel writer for a variety of newspapers and magazines.
“Wendy’s job of handling PR is a new in-house position at the Bureau,” said Misti Kerns, president and CEO of SMCVB. “Her experience as a journalist will be invaluable since she sees things with a different eye.” CVB’s PR programs reached over 22 million people through in 2004, with an ad equivalency of over $1.5 million. The organization expects O’Dea to increase those numbers.
Prior to becoming a travel writer, O’Dea worked in public relations for more than 10 years. She has a B.A. from State University of New York College at Oswego and a Masters degree from the USC School of Journalism.
Lee-Nguyen, previously director of marketing, has been with CVB for six years, during which time she helped develop media and marketing plans, including the production of the Santa Monica Visitors Guide and Corporate Planning Guide.
In her new role, she will oversee all visitor services including Santa Monica’s new walk-in Visitor Information Center on Main Street and its expanded retail program, and manage CVB’s marketing, visitor services and sales departments. She will also be responsible for all business development, including seeking sponsorship opportunities and developing alliances with like brands to further Santa Monica’s “destination brand promise.”
“Debbie has proven to be one of our most valuable assets,” said Tim Kittleson, chairman of the board of directors for the Bureau. “We have no doubt that her promotion to vice president will help further our long term goals of sustaining a healthy tourism industry which in turn facilitates jobs in Santa Monica.”
New operations manager Mindy Lansing, has been with CVB for over two years. She previously served as office manager and assistant to the president and CEO. In her new position, she will supervise administrative staff and oversee internal operations, including facilities management, human resources, and financials.
Prior to joining SMCVB, Lansing worked as a project manager in a music marketing firm that promoted bands, tours, clothing and films, and before that she was an event coordinator at a recording studio. She has a B.A. from Arizona State University.
According to the CVB, over 4.5 million people visit Santa Monica annually and tourism contributes an estimated $841 million to the local economy.
Created by the City of Santa Monica in 1982, the CVB is a non-profit, non-member business. Its mandate is “to increase visitor expenditures, tourism revenues and local employment opportunities through promotion of the area as a travel destination.”Its current allocation from the City is $2 million a year.