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Become the new Tourism Vancouver CEO

Tourism Vancouver's top job is open. Can you handle it? Out going CEO Rick Antonson tells the Vancouver Observer, "It's a great job."

Can you sell this?

Vancouver's ambassador to the world

Tourism Vancouver is looking for a new CEO. Do you have what it takes to bring the world to Vancouver's doorstep? The first thing you'll need is a passion for the Lower Mainland.

There's more to the gig than just loving it here; otherwise Tourism Vancouver would have just gone into the woods and hired a beaver. No, you have to get everyone else to love Vancouver as much as you do.

CEO of Tourism Vancouver is ultimately a sales job, and an intense one at that. You will be pitching Vancouver as a conference and event destination to groups already considering places like Singapore, London, San Francisco, and our devilishly stylish cousin Montreal. The competition is ridiculously intense.

Outgoing CEO Rick Antonson says,"We have a role to make sure the visitor experience, once they’ve accepted the invitation to come, is exactly what you’d told them it’d be."

Antonson speaks from experience: "I’ve had the pleasure of this position for the last 20 years." To think he started out only wanting a three-year commitment.

Having already cranked out a few travel books, Antonson is stepping aside to focus full-time on his writing.

A few small repairs

Antonson notes that Tourism Vancouver is a destination marketing organization, which means that it has had to become a destination management organization as well. The city's problems become your problems, so you better be a problem solver.

If you are serious about bringing people to Vancouver, you have to first champion the local projects that make the city most livable for locals. Tourism Vancouver gets behind projects like taxi driver training, bike lane implementation, and transit improvements; three guesses where they stand on the Broadway Corridor proposal.

"If you’re going to invite the world to come and visit Vancouver, you have to accept that they’re coming from different nationalities, religions, age groups, demographics, "said Antonson. "You have to work hard to exceed expectations."

Tourism Vancouver is a 110-year-old organization, and has dealt with everyone from esoteric trade groups to the International Olympic Committee.

(Regarding the Olympics, Antonson said that what surprised him most was what tourists and locals alike were willing to queue for.Who knew that the Mint would have been such a huge draw? Also, the warm weather that made snow management so challenging was a boon to visitors who had to line up outdoors: Antonson called them "the Spring Olympics".)

City of tomorrow

So you've researched the company like a good candidate; but if you want a snowball's chance at scoring this job, you better be a futurist as well.

Antonson said that the ideal candidate would be able to insert him- or herself, as well as the tourism perspective, into the future. You must be able to picture life in Vancouver circa 2015 or 2025.

Here's an excerpt from the job description:

Reporting to a 15 member Board of Directors, the President/CEO has overall responsibility for the management of the business activities of Tourism Vancouver, as well as the mandate to generate significant, targeted demand for the destination. The President/CEO leads Tourism Vancouver by accountable, efficient and effective operations, and through the development and implementation of short and long-term strategies, policies and marketing programs, in addition to the management of its human and financial resources. 

As the ideal candidate, your skills include broad and progressive leadership capabilities, as well as extensive management experience gained as a senior leader in an organization that has parallels to Tourism Vancouver or a related company in the tourism, hospitality or convention industry. Alternatively, this experience could come from a senior executive position within a complex sales and marketing organization that operates on the world stage. 

As a preferred candidate, you bring a positive, collaborative and open leadership style, exceptional relationship abilities and a strong performance orientation which you have infused throughout your previous positions. Significant, demonstrated accomplishments in sales, marketing and brand management as well as stakeholder, public and government relations are crucial. A thorough understanding of the travel, tourism and convention industry, and the mandate of destination marketing and management organizations are significant assets. 

From a personal perspective, you are a high energy, ethical, dynamic and outgoing leader with the knowledge, experience, integrity and style to quickly establish credibility among a wide range of stakeholders. You are passionate about Vancouver and intuitively comfortable representing the city locally, provincially, nationally and around the globe.

So, no, this is not an entry-level gig. You'd be running a non-profit with roughly 1,000 member companies, 60 full-time employees, and over 200 volunteers. You must understand the travel industry intimately, and be extremely comfortable building relationships with people and groups all over the world.

Basically, you must be able to make people say, "Sydney, New York, Paris, whatever... We're going to Vancouver."

But, as Rick Antonson said, "It's a terrific job."

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