ALBANY, N.Y.

Michele Vennard recently announced she will be leaving her position as the president & CEO of the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The transition will occur in late spring of 2018.

According to the Albany CVB, this transition has been a year in the making, and is part of a carefully orchestrated process, with input from stakeholders and the Board of Directors for the Albany CVB.

The process began with a full Organizational Assessment of CVB Operations last January. That assessment, conducted by the firm DMOProz, identified areas that needed to be addressed to assure a successful leadership transition. The organizations worked closely with the board to create a plan.

Following are some key highlights from the Albany CVB’s strategic plan:

  • Review location of Visitors Bureau offices and determine the optimum function for a destination Visitor Center or Visitor Hub. The CVB is working closely with the city of Albany on this initiative.
  • Implement changes to partnership (membership) development and sustained support to help the agency grow and expand. A new partner-centric process has been developed and the bureau has created a new partnership and community relations position to accomplish this.
  • Boost future funding. The assessment identified that Albany’s CVB funding level ranks well below that of other regional destinations. Identifying future opportunities will be a priority.
  • Leadership transition was also identified as a key priority and that process is being developed.

Vennard’s career includes 30+ years in the travel and tourism industry in the New York state. She began as the first tourism director for the Albany County CVB in 1981, the year that the hotel occupancy tax was enacted. The CVB focused on attracting new meeting and group tour business to Albany.

In 1984 Vennard became the marketing director for NYS Destinations a private destination marketing firm. The company built programming for many clients in the Adirondack region and throughout the state that included market representation and special events focusing on New York’s destinations.

In 1987 Vennard had the opportunity to become deputy commissioner of tourism for the I Love New York program part of the NYS Department of Economic Development (ESD).

For the next five years she worked to build a foundation of market specific and regionally focused travel programs that highlighted the entire state both domestically and internationally. In 1992 Vennard became the CEO of the Albany County CVB, where she has endeavored to build important programs that add to the economic vitality and quality of life of Albany County and the surrounding region.

During her time with the Albany CVB, Vennard was instrumental in developing plans for a new convention center. To help set the CVB up for the future, Vennard and her team recently underwent a rebranding, adopting a new identity for the 41-year-old visitors bureau, “Discover Albany.”

The Albany CVB is also launching a new website, and moving more of their marketing efforts to digital.