Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Mobile, has been chosen as Visit Baltimore's new president and CEO, effective November 14.
The 57-year-old Hutchinson brings more than 24 years of experience in the hospitality and destination marketing industry to Baltimore. At Visit Mobile, he was recognized as the 2016 Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance's "Tourism Promoter of the Year."
For a brand strategy to succeed, according to Hutchinson, all of a destination's stakeholders -- from government officials, tourism executives, and even residents -- must have buy in. With that in mind, Hutchinson orchestrated town hall gatherings at the Mobile Convention Center that attracted hundreds from the local community as well as thought leaders and industry visionaries. He plans to do the same at Visit Baltimore.
"I will meet with all the key stakeholders of the Visit Baltimore team, with the new political leadership, with business leaders, and community and civic leaders," says Hutchinson. "I will listen to what we did well, where our challenges are, where there are gaps for opportunities. I will listen intently before we put initiatives into place."
Under his leadership, Visit Mobile launched a new brand campaign, "Born to Celebrate"; saw record visitor attendance; a large increase in visitor inquiries; and an increase in the city's hotel occupancy rate and revenue collection.
"I enjoyed my time in Mobile and I feel I left them in a better place," he said. "I am an East Coast guy. I grew up there. My family is there. I know the East Coast well and I look forward to getting back there."
"Al is well-respected within the industry," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "We are lucky to have him and I am confident that he will serve as a strong advocate for tourism in Baltimore while also working to build relationships and partnerships within the community. I was impressed by his passion and perspective on how tourism can further advance Baltimore's economy."
As president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, Hutchinson will be responsible for leading the growth of the convention and tourism industry, overseeing the day-to-day management of all sales and marketing programs, and serving as the hospitality industry's liaison to the business, civic, and local community, while demonstrating the impact of tourism on the City and State.
"I plan to rally the troops and get everyone on board. Everyone has to be a cheerleader. If you live in Baltimore, work there, play there, we want you on the team," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson has long been recognized as a leader in the hospitality industry by organizations such as the American Society of Association Executives, Destination Marketing Association International, and the Religious Conference Management Association. Prior to joining Visit Mobile, he served as the vice president of convention sales and services at the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. Hutchinson has also served in leadership positions with the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Charlotte Convention Center, the Park Hotel in Charlotte, and the Richmond Metropolitan CVB.
Hutchinson takes over from Ron Melton, who stepped in as interim president and CEO of the bureau on May 6, when Tom Noonan left Baltimore to head the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.