Originally published in Successful Meetings magazine, July 2006
Successful Meetings: Why are you leaving at this time?
Carole Moody: I stepped down May 5 because I've been with the CVC for 30 years and I wanted to leave when business had recovered from 2001. We've added 2,600 rooms since 2000, though we experienced a significant dip in occupancy, but we're now back to pre- September 11 occupancy levels. Business will likely stay strong as we will have $4.3 billion in new development downtown by the end of 2006.
SM: How did the CVB business change during your tenure?
Moody: In 1976, when I started, it was clear that a bureau's role was to communicate a destination's appeal to a broad audience, including meeting planners, in order to support its members. Today, we're often seen as room booking agencies. When I first started, hotels saw the CVB as their best friend. They believed that they themselves should bring in business, and then whatever additional business we brought them was icing on the cake. But somewhere along the way, hotels have come to expect the opposite. And in today's world, especially because online travel booking is creating a decrease in the number of rooms in group blocks, the expectations are high.
SM: Has the role of women in the industry changed during your tenure?
Moody: Definitely. When I started, you didn't see any women in executive positions at bureaus. Today, while I don't know exactly how many women run CVBs, I'd bet the number is quite large.
SM: What do you think would most benefit the relationship between CVBs and meeting planners?
Moody: Meeting planners can help CVBs with the issue of attrition by giving us a fuller understanding of their business. If they provide information on the group's pickup history and what's realistic to book, that helps us do the best job possible for that customer. Communication is the basis of all success.
SM: What was your biggest accomplishment, professionally, during your tenure?
Moody: To the outside world I think it would be surviving the last four years of the most difficult time in the history of our organization. Certainly every CVB had to deal with the devastating effects of September 11. Added to the pressure of trying to recover, we opened 2,400 new hotel rooms in the downtown area between 2000 and 2005 and 1,100 of those rooms were in a new convention hotel. I'm proud to say that thanks to our team, 2006 will be the best year for conventions and tourism in St. Louis since 2001.
The thing I'm most proud of is that my rise to the top of our organization has been noticed by women who needed to know that they, too, can achieve whatever they want. Some of the most touching experiences I've had were with women who told me how much I've inspired them to continue pursuing their dreams. It really doesn't get any better than that.
SM: Now that you're retiring, at just 59, what will you do?
Moody: Kick back and enjoy life.