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MEET THE EARLY ADOPTERS AND DISRUPTORS IN THE PLACE BRAND INDUSTRY
Welcome to the City Nation Place Advisory Group – a network of leading decision makers from place brand, economic development, and destination marketing organisations from around the world. We’re working with these industry leaders to identify the emerging challenges and opportunities that should be top of the agenda for place professionals. The quarterly discussions from our Advisory Group are already sparking action, with new work streams launched to help our members address their top concerns and projects in the works to share those learnings with the broader industry.
|City Nation Place are launching a research report to understand what best practice looks like when it comes to researching and evaluating the impact of place brand and marketing strategies. We will be conducting interviews with a mix of place leaders from around the world representing best practice in this area to create a report, which will then be further backed up by a qualitative survey to benchmark these best practices against the wider industry.||Drawing from City Nation Place expertise and our archive of insight and awards, we will be curating initiatives and approaches that different places are using to engage their core stakeholders in their vision for the place. This toolkit for stakeholder engagement will provide actionable ideas to inspire your next strategies to drive engagement||As we prepare for future meetings with our Marketing Working Group, we are reaching out to representatives from social media platforms and big tech, as well as digital futurists who can help our Marketing group better understand how they can increase their presence or visibility on specific channels or to prepare for new and emerging trends.|
Here are just a few of the trailblazing place leaders sharing their insight with us as part of our advisory group...
How you can get involved
The Advisory Group is made up of place branding leaders from around the world, and as we finish our first year, there are limited places to join – although we hope to extend the programme to more participants in coming years. However, if you would like to be involved, or if you would like to be featured in either the Research report or the Stakeholder engagement, please do get in touch by emailing email@example.com. We’d love to learn more about your work.
City Nation Place Champions
This work would not be possible without the financial support of our City Nation Place Champions: Brand Tasmania; Destination Cleveland, NZ Story, VisitPITTSBURGH and Wesgro:
City Nation Place represents a unique and important confluence of place making, perception, and economic development. We are happy to support the Champions program as it helps ensure important conversations and insights on these topics with a global perspective that helps our organization strategize its future.
This is a new way of thinking about economic, social, and cultural development. Yet it has a massive impact on the people who live in our cities, regions, and nations. There isn’t a playbook that works for everyone, so it’s crucial to share our successes and failures. This is deeply meaningful work we are all lucky enough to do. It’s also strange, and no one understand like others who do it. Ultimately, the best reason to connect with peers is to help the people we serve more cleverly and powerfully.
I hope we can accelerate our collective impact – learning what others are doing will allow us to transfer that to our own context, or learn from their experiences. As we are forming the international group, we are also redefining the craft of place branding. While we may be separated by time and distance, often our challenges and opportunities are similar. I’ve learnt much already from how others are handling some of the same specific issues we face, in a unique field. Place branding is very much a niche, and we are all still collectively learning how best to have impact. The diversity of thought and experience allows us all to improve and grow.
City Nation Place provides opportunities to engage with the global tourism and economic development community in meaningful ways. Through CNP, we have connected with a large network of practitioners who are doing amazing work in all corners of the world. Learning from each other through the exchange of ideas is a great way to create opportunities in our home markets.
Never before have we seen such a rapid change in how destinations are positioning themselves locally and internationally. This is because of the advancements in technology and channel innovation as well as the changing mindsets of audiences, and the need to respond to increasing complexities and crisis. City Nation Place provides the platform for leaders and change-makers in destination marketing to continue important conversations around implementing marketing mix strategies as a result of analysis, segmentation, changing travel, buying and investing behaviours and motivations. Insights are invaluable as we determine as a collective how we can be more effective for our respective regions.
We look forward to continuing to connect with our City Nation Place Advisory Group and Champions over the coming months and creating new resources to support the development of place branding as an industry. Watch this space for more news.
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Adriana Acosta is the Marketing and Communication Director of PROCOMER (The Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter) and oversees the strategic direction of the country brand Essential Costa Rica. Adriana has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising, and she had been the head of conception and development of strategies for brands of diverse sectors such as real state, wines and distillates, premium brands, services, and fast-moving consumer goods.
Prior to joining PROCOMER, Adriana as a Marketing Director and Senior Executive, developed marketing strategies, frame and conduct marketing research, develop customer journeys and lead the social media and advertising strategy for different clients and companies. She also explored her entrepreneur side creating and managing her own advertising agency for 8 years.
Adriana is graduate of the Costa Rica University of Communication and Advertising program and has an MBA in Marketing. She has experience developing new business, leading marketing teams, managing the relation with advertising, social media and public relations agencies, commercial partners, press media and events agencies and has served as the spokesperson of different companies.
David Andrews is Director of the Great West Way, a Discover England Funded project to create one of the world’s premier touring routes between London & Bristol. This project has been led by VisitWiltshire where David is also Chief Executive. Previous tourism management and marketing roles include working at The Mersey Partnership and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. Before that David worked in VisitBritain / VisitEngland roles based in London, Singapore, Chicago and Amsterdam.
Todd Babiak is CEO of Brand Tasmania. He made the switch from place branding and economic development consulting, with Story Engine and Places are People, where he had worked with clients in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Australia. Why did he move to Tasmania, to join his former client as CEO? He had never implemented a strategy before, and he was inspired to understand why people didn’t always take action on his “brilliant advice.”
Now he gets it.
See tasmanian.com.au and toddbabiak.com.
Jerad Bachar has close to thirty years of tourism and economic development experience in an array of countries and business environments. He has worked in both developed and emerging markets in the areas of destination branding and marketing, economic development and diversification, and workforce development.
Jerad began his tourism development career at VisitPITTSBURGH in 2004. In 2008, he became Director of Business Tourism for the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing where he led the development of the city’s strategy for business, sports, and leisure events. In 2015, Jerad became an Executive Director at the Bahrain Economic Development Board where he was responsible for economic development of the travel, healthcare, education, and real estate sectors.
Jerad returned to Pittsburgh in January 2019 as the Executive Vice President of VisitPITTSBURGH, and as of May 2020 became President and CEO of the organization. Jerad holds an MBA from the University of Liverpool.
Camilla Bark is Director of Marketing and Talent Attraction at Invest in Skåne, the official trade and investment promotion organisation for Skåne, the southernmost part of Sweden.
Invest in Skåne help international companies invest and expand in the region, and attract valuable talent to secure a skilled, diverse and competent workforce in Skåne and the Greater Copenhagen region.
In addition, Invest in Skåne has the task of promoting Skåne and the Greater Copenhagen Region internationally as an attractive, dynamic and world-class region for business, research and innovation, and which provides a gateway to, not just the Nordics, but Europe as a whole. Camilla leads a team responsible for marketing, communications, PR and talent attraction/retention. She holds a double Bachelor degree in Business Administration and Human Resources (with a focus on Competence Resourcing) and has several years of experience working with international marketing and branding within B2B as well as competence resourcing and Employer Branding.
Asbjorn Overgaard took up the position as CEO in Copenhagen Capacity on 1 June 2020 being at the forefront of attracting and retaining foreign companies and talents, with the aim of creating growth and development in Greater Copenhagen. Throughout his career, Asbjorn has worked in both private companies and public organizations and close to the political decision-making process. Asbjørn have a long experience from positions as Director of Danish Shipping, a number of positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including Private Secretary to the Minister of Trade and Investment, Deputy Ambassador and Deputy Director of Invest in Denmark.
With over 30 years of experience in the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors, Royce has focused the last 15 years of his career in senior leadership roles at the national, provincial, and now the civic level of destination management organizations. After spending 10 years at Travel Alberta, Royce relocated back to his hometown Vancouver to take on the role of President, CEO, and team leader of the newly transformed Destination Vancouver in July of 2020.
While at Travel Alberta Royce oversaw the development and launch of the award winning (remember to breathe) destination brand that resulted in increased awareness and visitation for Alberta. While at the Canadian Tourism Commission, Royce was part of the team that brought the Canada brand to life for millions of viewers and attendees of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics helping to put Vancouver and Canada on the global tourism bucket list.
Before that Royce developed extensive experience working in corporate, franchise and start-up business in operations, sales, and marketing in various leadership roles.
Royce volunteers on Destination British Columbia’s Tourism Marketing Committee, Expedia Media Select Advisory Board, Business Improvement Association Downtown Vancouver Board Member, and SAIT Dean’s Hospitality and Tourism Council.
David Downs, CMInstD
Genetically Modified Optimist
David has had a successful career in the private and public sector and is now CEO of The New Zealand Story, an ambitious government-funded organisation marketing New Zealand to the world. He also acts as a consultant and is a director on several boards, including as Chair of The Icehouse, and the Hi-Tech Trust. David is an ex-comedian, TV and radio actor, semi-finalist for New Zealander of the Year, cancer survivor and a published author of the books No.8 Re-wired, No.8 Recharged, A Mild Touch of the Cancer, and Silver Linings. David founded SOS Business, a hugely successful not-for-profit initiative to help cafes and other small businesses during covid-19.
David Gilbert serves as President and CEO of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, an organization dedicated to making Greater Cleveland the nation’s foremost destination for amateur sporting events and activities, and Destination Cleveland, the region’s destination marketing and management organization. He re-established the Sports Commission in 2000 and assumed his role with Destination Cleveland in 2011. From April 2015 through December 2017, David also served as the president and CEO of the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee for the Republican National Convention.
Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is responsible for attracting, creating, managing, and enhancing significant sporting and competitive events. Since 2000, the organization has attracted over 200 events including the NFL Draft, MLB All-Star Game, NBA All-Star Weekend and NCAA Women’s Final Four in addition to the upcoming 2024 Pan-American Maters Games. These events have contributed more than $820 million in local economic impact.
At Destination Cleveland, Gilbert is responsible for carrying out the organization’s mission to drive economic impact and stimulate community vitality by positioning and promoting Cleveland as an exciting, vibrant destination. Under his leadership, visitation and economic impact increased dramatically for nine consecutive years (2011-2019) before the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic. During that time, annual visitation grew at a pace greater than the U.S. visitation growth rate.
Gilbert serves as vice president on the board of the International Children’s Games, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and sits of the boards of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board of the Department of Commerce. He was named by Crain’s Cleveland Business as one of Cleveland’s “30 influencers of the past 30 years,” Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and in 2016, he received the SME Cleveland Business Executive of the Year Award.
Gilbert has a Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing from The Ohio State University and an MBA from Cleveland State University.
Sarah was appointed CEO of NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) in 2020. Sarah oversees all aspects of NGI, the destination and inward investment agency that delivers for Newcastle, Gateshead, and the wider region.
Prior to NGI, Sarah was the Director of Regions and Nations at CBI. She qualified as a lawyer with Clifford Chance working Hong Kong, London and Shanghai and has a MSc in Urban Regeneration and an MBA. Sarah is also currently completing a PhD scholarship at Durham University, studying the social impact of small businesses on the rural economy.
With a passion for improving the visitor economy, advocate for social mobility and enabler of economic growth in the North East, she sits on the Tourism Industry Council, is an Independent Advisory Board member at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), a council member at the National Trust and a non-executive director at Ryder Architecture.
My background is in political science and integrated communication.
I have more than 15 years experience in communication working within different areas - public and digital diplomacy, stratcom, government affairs, media relations, PR, country branding.
Together with my team in 2019 we have launched a new brand strategy and platform - Lithuania Co-Create.
Inga Hlin Palsdottir has been an integral part of branding and promotion for Iceland for over a decade and has been involved with all aspects of the tourism industry. She led successful changes for the brand Iceland as a place and destination, both in crisis and in times of growth. She is the former director of Visit Iceland and the award winning campaign Inspired by Iceland. In her time the tourism industry in Iceland went from being the third largest revenue generating industry to the largest one. As well as becoming a whole year round destination in all regions. Her main emphasis has been on stakeholders’ engagement, integrated marketing, sustainability and responsibility in the industry. She was a Senior Advisor with Future Place Leadership from 2020-2021. From 2020, she has been advising places and destinations on strategy, branding, stakeholders engagement, integrated marketing and crisis communication.
Today, she is a managing director for a brand new DMMO for the Reykjavik capital area - Visit Reykjavík / Reykjavik & Partners.
Kristen Reynolds has been at the helm of Discover Long Island, the official regional organization charged with furthering Long Island’s $6.3 billion tourism economy, for seven years. A transplant from Arizona, her experience as a destination leader spans more than 25 years in roles at the state tourism level, in corporate and luxury resorts and as the statewide lobbyist for tourism and economic development advocacy.
Kristen and her team at Discover Long Island work to promote a positive perception of Long Island across the globe, which draws lucrative visitors, stirs business attraction, and drives economic development throughout the region – all for the overarching purpose of improving the quality of life for Long Island residents. During her tenure at Discover Long Island, collaborations with local, regional and state business and industry leaders have led to many national and global awards and enhanced economic vitality.
Kristen serves on the Board of Directors for Destinations International, as the incoming President of the New York State Destination Marketing Organizations (NYSDMO), as a board member of NYSHTA (New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association) and has been named to the Top 50 Women in Business on Long Island’s Hall of Fame, Top 100 Power List of Long Island and City & State’s Top 100 Long Island influencers. She is a graduate from the acclaimed Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and is a Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME). Her favorite pastime is discovering Long Island with her blended family and reigniting the passion of Long Islanders for the place they call home.
Clare has been a member of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation team since 2010 – an organization tasked with the revitalization of Calgary’s Rivers District. Together with her team, they have successfully led the rebranding of Calgary's East Village, a 49 acre brownfield site that has attracted more than $3 Billion in private investment, transforming the area into one of the City's most vibrant neighbourhoods.
As VP of Marketing and Communications, Clare leads the corporate communications and public engagement strategies. In addition to the ongoing effort in transforming East Village, she oversees strategic communications in the delivery of the broader Rivers District Master Plan, a 20-year master plan for Calgary’s emerging Culture and Entertainment District, including project communications for the BMO Convention Centre Expansion, 17th Avenue Extension, and new Event Centre.
Amanda Lumley is Chief Executive of Destination Plymouth. She has a wealth of experience in tourism from leading UK national attractions such as Chester Zoo and Leeds Castle, to regional tourism partnerships Visit Essex, Visit Kent and most recently Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City where she was involved in the Mayflower 400 programme for over 9 years.
As well as being the voice of the city’s visitor economy, she leads on the city’s brand strategy, Visitor Plan, marketing and digital strategy, events, major development projects, public space and place making.
Amanda is Immediate Past President, a Director and a Fellow of the Tourism Management Institute, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Co-Chair of the Great South West Tourism Partnership.
Daniela Montiel is a Strategy and Partnerships Coordinator at Marca Chile, a public-private foundation that manages Chile’s country brand. She proposes strategy and establishes partnerships which aim to position Chile’s nation brand internationally and provide support for international efforts carried out by members of the public and private sectors. Prior to this she spent six years developing communication strategy for economic development projects at the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. She holds a master’s degree in public diplomacy from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in literature from Loyola Marymount University. Originally from California, she is currently based in Santiago de Chile.
Sithembile Ntombela has been part of the Brand South Africa team for over a decade. A prolific marketer with over 22 years of marketing experience in private and public sector and has a deep understanding of the marketing and brand environments.
She has extensive classical marketing experience in FMCG, global marketing, and destination (Nation Brand) marketing. A leader with the mission to innovate and improve overall company performance. She is a prudent decision-maker and an inspiring leader that strives to build high performing teams.
Sithembile has held senior managerial positions from diverse companies and her experiences include developing and implementing impactful, successful, and sustainable brand strategies.
Sithembile completed her Marketing undergraduate qualification at Mangosuthu University of Technology in KZN. She later pursued and completed a Post Graduate National Diploma in Marketing and BPHIL Honours in Marketing through the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM) and a Masters in Commerce (MCOM) from MANCOSA.
She is a Chartered Marketer (CM-SA) with the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA) and a member of Black Management Forum.
She is also an Advisory board member the CMO Council (Sub Saharan Africa) and City Nation Place where she continues to share her insights relating to dynamics in brand and marketing world.
Claire is Head of Marketing for Brand Scotland at the Scottish Government. Brand Scotland is a strategic marketing and communications partnership that brings together the communications efforts of the Scottish Government and key partners in building Scotland’s global brand and reputation. Brand Scotland is very proud to have won Best Communications Strategy – Place Brand at the most recent City Nation Place Awards in 2022.
Prior to this, Claire spent 7 years leading award-winning behaviour change campaigns for the Scottish Government across climate change, health, road safety and justice, and also has extensive agency experience having spent 5 years as Account Director at one of Scotland’s leading advertising and creative agencies.
Claire is also vice Chair of the Marketing Society Scotland Advisory Board.
Øyvind Såtvedt is the managing director of Oslo Region Alliance, which consists of the City of Oslo and 64 neighbouring municipalities. The Oslo Region Alliance organizes campaigns to attract international investors and talent to the Oslo Region, and was together with Oslo Business Region awarded the City Nation Place “Place Brand of the Year” award in 2015. Øyvind is a political scientist, has worked as consultant and researcher, and was chief of staff for Oslo’s Governing Mayor from 2000 to 2007. He lives in Oslo with his wife and two children.
Sirpa Tsimal is an economic development and foreign direct investment specialist. Currently, she is Director for Investment Promotion at Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), where she leads the Global Marketing team.
At S-GE, Sirpa focuses her work on emerging technologies and ecosystems such as AI, blockchain, health and robotics in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to Switzerland. Sirpa is a board member of the Home of Blockchain initiative, on the steering committee of the Swiss Biotech Report, and on the advisory board of CityNationPlace. She is a frequent speaker at industry events.
Sirpa has 18+ years of experience working with and leading international teams in marketing communications, business development, market entry and strategic innovation projects. Prior to S-GE, Sirpa was the founder of The Location Lab, an innovation consultancy, and co-founder and Managing Partner at TSIMANN LLC, a communication agency in New York/Washington DC. Sirpa worked as a consultant for various economic development agencies such as BaselArea and Health Industries South Australia. She also ran and scaled the mentorship program at two health tech accelerators, in New York City (ELabNYC) and in the State of Connecticut (ABCT).
Sirpa graduated from the University of Zurich in 2003 with a master’s degree in communication sciences, international law and social anthropology.
Jos Vranken (1967) has been NBTC’s Managing Director since 1 September 2007.
NBTC is the Dutch national destination management organisation, responsible for the development, branding and marketing of the Netherlands as a destination.
After graduating from the Breda University of Applied Sciences, Jos Vranken started his professional career in 1990 at the former Netherlands Board of Tourism (NBT). In 1996, having held various positions, he joined Stayokay, the Dutch hostel chain, as its Sales & Marketing Manager and member of the Management Team.
In 1999, he moved to London to head up NBTC’s UK & Ireland office. Soon after, his role was extended to Regional director for the Nordic countries. Following a five-year tenure in London, Jos Vranken returned to NBTC head office to take on the role of International Marketing Director and joined the Management Team.
Early 2005, Jos Vranken accepted a new challenge at the contract catering company Avenance Nederland (which has since become part of Compass Group), where he fulfilled the position of Commercial Director and was a member of the Board.
On 1 September 2007, Jos Vranken re-joined NBTC as its Managing Director.
He is a member of the Dutch Hospitality Association and the Validation Committee for the development of a Professional Doctorate in Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality. He also holds a non-executive role in the Supervisory Board of the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) and the Economic Board West Holland.
Andrew currently serves as Executive Vice President, Destination Development at Tourism Toronto, where he has worked for 14 years, previously as EVP and Chief Marketing Officer and earlier as Vice President, Communications. In his new role, Andrew leads planning and advocacy for the visitor economy in Toronto, seeking new ways to elevate the visitor experience and forge stronger connections among the businesses of the visitor economy, other business sectors and government partners.
Patricia Yates has been the CEO of Visit Britain since April 2022. Patricia has been with the national tourism agency since 2005 and was previously its Director of Strategy & Communications. She is responsible for research, tourism affairs and communications. Patricia started her career as a journalist including a long period editing Holiday Which? She also launched and edited the Which? Guide to Hotels for many years. Patricia is the Chair of TIER – the Tourism Industry Emergency Response group - which coordinates the tourism industry messaging at times of crisis.