Change can be scary—but not for Travel Portland’s Tamara Kennedy-Hill, vice president of diversity and community relations. Kennedy-Hill embraces it, which is why she is spearheading the CVB’s latest campaign to pump life back into the city.
She will play a large part in shaping and executing a comprehensive six-year plan for Travel Portland to become a destination marketing and management organization. The idea is to execute events and conferences in a way that better serves the community as a whole.
When completed, the switch should make Travel Portland and the city it serves stronger. But that doesn’t mean there are not challenges.
“Tension between being an attractive city and a city that is evolving poses the threat that telling authentic stories … is hard when that place is in the middle of transition,” says Kennedy-Hill. Here’s her take on how Portland plans to balance the two.
Can you explain the idea behind Travel Portland’s plan?
About two years ago, Travel Portland embarked upon a strategic planning process to help us think about who we want to be in the future and looked at different destination trends. Our CEO wanted us to be the most innovative DMO in the country. At the same time, we were also looking at how our city is a popular place and how it is growing, beyond just tourism. We are seeing vibrancy in many good ways. A lot of what we promote about place that are the same things that appeal to locals: quality of life, food scene, sustainability. It has also been driving more people to move here, which presents good and bad challenges—we have a bit more congestion and challenges with livability and living cost. The DMMO master plan is about us wanting to be intentional and strategic about how we are actually promoting tourism, meetings and conventions in a manageable way.
Do you think this switch will help attract more groups that make diversity and inclusivity a top priority?
National media has not touted Portland very positively about our racial demographics. We know that while Portland may not be the most racially diverse place, that that narrative does a disservice to the amazing entrepreneurs and professionals of color here. We want to ensure, shape and elevate those stories, but also to collaborate with other stakeholders to make sure Portland is a welcoming and an inclusive place for all, which directly relates to the meetings and conventions world.