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By Nicole Brownell

For years, I’ve had the opportunity to work cooperatively with the Paradise team through shared clients. I’ve always admired their creative talent and work as a whole. So when the opportunity arose to join the agency and infuse my specific areas of expertise — interactive experiences and digital solutions — I knew that we’d be a good fit for each other. More importantly, I knew that together, we could do great things for the destinations and communities we partner with.

Since starting here, I have been incredibly impressed with my new agency’s genuine commitment to the success of its clients, coupled with unwavering advocacy and partnership. This proactive engagement stands out as especially significant given the impact of Covid-19 on the travel and tourism industry. At a time when so many of our colleagues were out of work, Paradise kept going, kept evolving, and kept grinding — continually adding new thought-leaders to their team along the way to help support their clients’ recovery

Industry commitment really matters to me, as I have been fortunate to sit on all sides of tourism marketing — hotelier, DMO, agency — giving me a holistic perspective. My career in tourism marketing began in 2007 as a hotelier in New York State’s Adirondack Park, the largest park in the USA. In 2008 I met my mentor, the legendary Jim McKenna, who stressed to me the importance of focusing on the community, destination, stakeholders, and the visitor economy throughout all travel planning and strategy. 

I quickly grew to see destination marketing as community marketing and its direct link to economic impact. As my role at the hotel evolved into CMO, I felt a responsibility to champion the importance of tourism in the region. That included serving as our Chamber of Commerce VP, becoming a member of New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association’s Women in Lodging, and becoming a steward of Audubon International’s Sustainable Hospitality program. 

In 2012, I joined the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), the DMO for Adirondack Park and one of the first Destinations International members (where my mentor Jim still serves as CEO). My experience with ROOST helped widen my destination marketing knowledge and participate in regional change. Our advocacy helped shift destination marketing from being the responsibility of governments or chambers to being led by marketing and intelligence-focused professionals. 

This formula has been instrumental not only in the success of the Adirondack region and destination marketing, but also my career. When you are community-focused, empowered to make decisions, and driven to meet and exceed KPIs, the only direction to go is up — for both the destination and those building and implementing the plan. 

While my initial interest in Paradise was piqued by the agency’s exceptional work and reputation, I knew I wanted to be part of the team after meeting Barbara, Paradise’s CEO and co-owner. As the agency’s positive energy force, Barbara radiates an excitement that inspires both her team and her clients. She is passionate about success, dedicated to intelligence-led strategies, and leads by example. In other words, her approach to helping destinations, brands and businesses succeed jibes perfectly with mine.

Paradise touts their belief in “The Power of +,” an approach that’s all about bringing something extra to everything the agency does for its clients. Now that I’m part of the team, I see this in action every day. We move fluidly, constantly listening, recalibrating, and strategizing to get the desired results for our clients. (See case studies here.)

Having been part of destination marketing from all angles for 15 years, I know how important it is to approach everything we do with a depth-of-industry compassion. That’s why I’m looking forward to collaborating with my Paradise teammates to help our clients tell their stories and inspire people to visit time and again, building the visitor economy in line with the community. 

In 2020, we all learned the “analyze-pivot” two-step. Consumer sentiment, visitor profiles, customer journeys, and in-destination amenities can change weekly — or in some cases, daily. Paradise was one of the agencies that had the most success navigating this interesting and ever-changing dynamic. I have absolute confidence that we will continue to be able to do so in 2021 and beyond, helping destinations — and businesses and communities — thrive like never before.