Puerto Rico has faced more than its share of trials over the past few years, from the Zika outbreak to bankruptcy to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Through it all, the destination has dusted itself off with speed and continued to serve meetings with a high level of service and quality. It is now going through a different kind of disruption, as the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization will take over from Meet Puerto Rico as the destination's official off-island marketing organization for groups beginning July 1.
As it has with other disruptions, the destination's meeting leaders have moved fast to keep things steady for groups. Brad Dean, formerly the CEO of Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, took on the role of CEO of the Puerto Rico DMO last month, and earlier this week announced the appointments of two key executives, with the organization expecting to be fully up and running by July.
"Our top priority is to quickly assemble an exceptional team of sales and marketing professionals that will build upon the foundation laid by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and Meet Puerto Rico, enabling us to grow the island's visitor economy to new heights," Dean told Successful Meetings. "We are also committed to ensuring a smooth transition between the existing plans and the new DMO, to optimize all short-term opportunities. Finally, we will immediately look for opportunities to capture synergy and efficiencies, while promoting Puerto Rico as the extraordinary destination that it is."
Leah Chandler, CDME, will take on the position of chief marketing officer, effective mid-May, while Alma Pedrosa, CPA, CDME, will serve as chief financial officer, starting July 1. Chandler is a 16-year veteran of the travel and tourism industry, most recently serving as chief marketing officer for the Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau in Branson, MO. Pedrosa is currently acting president and CEO in addition to her duties as director of finance and administration for Meet Puerto Rico, in which she is responsible for the strategic planning and direction of the financial and administrative functions of Meet Puerto Rico.
"Leah Chandler has an impressive track record in destination marketing, and I am supremely confident she will elevate Puerto Rico's brand image as an aspirational destination for global travelers and meeting professionals," said Dean. "Leah's innovative nature, marketing savvy and digital marketing prowess position her to positively impact our visitor economy for many years to come."
Dean added that Pedrosa's experience with Meet Puerto Rico makes her "perfectly positioned to help us transition to the new DMO role and guide our strategy to maximize the return on investment for Puerto Rico."
As for how the DMO will meet the needs of groups coming to Puerto Rico, Dean emphasized that economic recovery was well under way, but "we know the competition for meetings and conventions is intense. By effectively promoting the unique experiences and exceptional facilities in Puerto Rico, and working diligently to exceed the expectations of our partners, including meeting professionals, we can accelerate the economic recovery using the transformational power of travel."