Working in Partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, with Cheryl Kilday

Episode 261

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Cheryl Kilday, President & CEO, Destination North Myrtle Beach, CDME, has contributed to the communities where she has lived through destination development, tourism promotion, and economic development initiatives. And she has an extensive background working with not-for-profit membership-based organizations that affect a positive impact on the local economy and quality of life.

Cheryl joined the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau in October 2018. She previously led Visit Spokane from 2010 until October 2018 after living in the Washington DC region in Northern Virginia for several years. She launched Visit Loudoun in 1996 and was the President and CEO for nearly 15 years. She began her tourism adventure in the Willamette Valley in Oregon after graduating from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Cheryl also earned the prestigious Certified Destination Marketing Executive (CDME) designation through Destinations International in 2011 and has achieved Destination Management Accreditation in both Spokane, Washington, Loudoun, Virginia, and North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Cheryl is a Trustee for Destinations International Travel Foundation and serves on committees for Destinations International Foundation and Association boards.

Her career honors include recognition for leadership in the meetings industry by Smart Meetings Magazine, and awards for marketing and public relations programs from US Travel, HSMAI, and an Emmy®.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Cheryl Kilday, who shares why she believes that working for a tourism office that is part of a Chamber of Commerce gives her office a considerable advantage. We discuss how Cheryl sees the future of tourism evolving and why the curation of destinations’ stories is likely to focus more on creating a connection between places and their visitors by positioning them where potential guests are searching. Cheryl also dives into what she loves about working in the travel industry and why a huge part of the joy she finds in her job lies in the connections she builds with the local community.

What You Will Learn:

  • Different funding models that tourist organizations can leverage and why working with the Chamber gives Cheryl a better budget
  • How Cheryl helps the North Myrtle Beach residents understand and appreciate that their restaurants, retail, and entertainment options improve because they’re outnumbered by visitors on any given day
  • Cheryl’s advice for having a successful relationship with your team
  • Creative projects that Cheryl and her team have been working on to make their destination stand out
  • Why accountability and transparency feature highly in how North Myrtle Beach put together their messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they differentiated the messaging for residents, workers, and visitors, to the destination
  • Why Cheryl and her team did a series of commercials for social media, local television, and radio to personify how their businesses missed their customers and what they were doing to make it safer for visitors to return
  • Some examples of how coopetition has worked for Cheryl and her team
  • The co-op program and how it world to differentiate their positioning for North Myrtle Beach compared to the larger Myrtle Beach area as a destination
  • How Cheryl has seen destination marketing organizations role evolve over her career

Creative Ways to Connect with Your Community

Over the last couple of years, times have been challenging in the travel and tourism industry, and DMOs have had to get clever and creative. COVID-19 has required them to try new approaches and behave differently while we figured out how our world would evolve.

This week, my guest on the Destination on the Left podcast is Cheryl Kilday, President & CEO of Destination North Myrtle Beach. She joins me to share what she and her team did to let their residents and visitors know how they were going to keep them safe. We discuss the creative ways that North Mrytle Beach developed media campaigns that kept them accountable and transparent with their community to demonstrate that they were being sensitive to the needs of both the workforce and the visitors.

We dive into the fun ways that Cheryl and her team brought North Myrtle Beach to their visitors when the visitors couldn’t come to them — including putting together a Spotify radio channel of beach music, sending videos of dance lessons to learn how to do the South Carolina shag dance, and setting up cooking classes. They also developed a road trip toolkit so that people would have a fun way to connect with them on their way to North Myrtle Beach when they were ready to return.

Collaboration with Regional DMOs

We dig into Cheryl’s experience of North Myrtle Beach’s collaboration with the regional DMO and how the spirit of partnership helped them move forward. I often talk about ‘coopetition,’ the idea of competitors coming together to cooperate and create bigger wins together than they can achieve independently. Cheryl shares some examples of how her small community works to differentiate itself from its larger neighbor to the south — including setting up a co-op. The co-op is a voluntary organization that contributes money to help guide the destination marketing that differentiates its brand positioning. They also have a collaborative program called Momentum that helps them raise funds for specific projects or initiatives that go beyond what the co-op dues would support.

Cheryl and I also dive into the details of her destination master plan, when the destination plans to launch it and how they have been able to fund the project through creative coopetition. She describes the ultimate goals of North Myrtle Beach to brand itself as somewhere that partners with residents to go through an inclusive community-based planning process on how they want their destination to be in the long term.

I loved Cheryl’s take on how opportunities for coopetition advance the common good by allowing everyone to buy into a common goal and work together to achieve spectacular results.


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