"The new city of Dunwoody is starting a convention and visitors bureau and is looking for a director."
This was the conversation I had with a tourism colleague that altered the course of my life in every way - both personally and professionally. It was September 2009 and I was living in Thomasville, Ga., working as the Tourism Coordinator promoting the City of Roses to every motor coach group traveling through Georgia. Soon after that conversation occurred, I brought my own laptop to a rented cubicle and with the support of a remarkable board of directors, numerous community partners, and later, a rock star team, Discover Dunwoody took off.
What began as a new professional challenge that brought me closer to home has endured as the greatest career opportunity of a lifetime. Starting a bureau from scratch and establishing a new destination brand have proven to be both challenging and thrilling. We've had some successes and definitely a few flops, but when I think about the past 10 years, it's not the results that are recalled, but rather the people who helped us achieve them.
While it's true we were a one-man operation in the early days, I was never flying solo. Since day one, Discover Dunwoody has been surrounded by bright minds and creative partners. Dozens of community leaders were at the helm of our creation, making important decisions related to HR, finances, and strategies. Hotel general managers were offering guidance and words of wisdom.
I'm recalling days spent in Donna Mahaffey's sprawling PCID office while she coached me through conversations and decisions; memories like Michael Bryan and I brainstorming new marketing strategies over a glass of wine at Vino Venue; the way Mayors and City Councilors supported and encouraged our efforts when we presented at council meetings. Since our formation, 13 people have served the organization as staff members. And we've partnered with dozens of individuals on event promotion, media hosting, videography, and so much more.
The thing about destination marketing organizations is that it's never really about you, the organization. It's about the community. Without places like the Nature Center, Spruill Gallery, Perimeter Mall, Village Burger, McKendrick's Steak House...we wouldn't have a story to tell the world. Our job is to amplify your happenings and encourage people to come visit; we may be the storytellers...but you are the creators.
We know that results and ROI are important, and we are proud of what we've been able to achieve through marketing and sales strategies. We've seen hotel occupancy and revenue increase, garnered media hits in our drive markets, booked meetings and groups, created Restaurant Week, Arts and Culture Month, and a new holiday promotion coming soon.
But we didn't accomplish those things alone. So thank you to everyone who has been a part of Discover Dunwoody's 10 years. Thank you for your guidance, encouraging words, and new ideas. Thank you for visiting the website, sharing a Facebook post, or reading the brochure. And most of all, thank you for creating a place that is worth telling the world about!