Driving Regional Growth Through Collaboration, with Paulette Hicks

Episode 276

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Paulette Hicks is an energetic, passionate, and highly driven manager. She is noted for achieving results by executing solid and focused plans. Her 27 years of experience as a successful manager within the Saint John Business Community has been recognized by her peers in receiving the President’s Award by Tourism Saint John and nationally with the Hotel Association of Canada, HAC Humanitarian Award, and 2016 Women of Distinction YWCA.

She has successfully managed the Delta Saint John, which includes the largest 4-star convention hotel18,000 square feet of prime conference space in Saint John, New Brunswick. The complex is owned and operated by Slate REIT.

Paulette is highly experienced with exceptional strength in delivering financial results by revenue-generating strategies combined with well-managed margins and cost controls.

She is an engaged manager who leads her team in a direct and clear fashion. She strives to achieve an environment that consistently delivers a positive experience meaningful to guests with empowered employees. Ms. Hicks is committed to developing and mentoring employees and attracting top talent to the company.

As a high honors graduate of the Hospitality & Tourism program from Seneca College, she continues to enhance her education by working with the NB Community College and University of New Brunswick Saint John Hospitality Programs.

Ms. Hicks has invested in the growth of the destination with her commitment to implementing the Destination Marketing Fee, adding an additional $800,000 annually in marketing dollars for the Saint John region. Ms. Hicks is community-minded and sincerely invests her talents and time into many initiatives, particularly poverty reduction.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Paulette Hicks, CEO of Envision Saint John, about the amazing feat of successful inter-organizational collaboration she has pulled off in just a few short months. The regional growth agency she heads has embraced their new model of collaboration, and Paulette describes some of the creative promotions that they have already executed and seen successful results from and how they plan to build on those results in the future.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How Paulette moved from hotel management into destination marketing
  • Lessons learned from starting a new destination marketing agency in the middle of a pandemic
  • Why Envision Saint John wanted to go beyond the borders of the city and involve neighboring municipalities
  • Paulette’s advice for engaging multiple stakeholders in new and bold initiatives
  • How cultivating a growth mindset has helped move Envision Saint John forward and align the stakeholders
  • Some of the creative approaches Envision Saint John is taking in terms of messaging and programming including collaborating on a specially written song by local musicians
  • The fantastic response they have had to their community handbook project and how they personalized them for different visitor groups
  • Paulette’s plans for building on the incredible success of the past 15 months and how Envision Saint John sees the future of tourism in their region

Aligning with Partners

Knitting the community together was an important theme for Paulette as she built Envision Saint John. In this episode, she discusses how she was able to go beyond the city’s borders and involve other municipalities in her organization’s mission to attract more people to the area.

The new agency brought in three legacy agencies in Saint John, which separated out property, business, and tourism under one umbrella, added a further five municipalities and created an agency that aligned around four central pillars of visitors, residents, business investment, and students. Paulette is committed to a full singular focus on growth for her entire region and has been doing a tremendous amount of work around strategy and collaboration to ensure that they’re driving revenue and defining their brand.

Growth and Abundance

Growth mindset and abundance mindset are the terms that defined Paulette’s vision of building on the impetus of Envision Saint John’s first year. Her team and partners took those philosophies to heart when considering their past performance and where they want to be in five, 10, 15, and 25 years, as well as how they could create a community legacy so the young people of the area could build a life locally.

Paulette took a deliberate and very thoughtful approach by listening to all the stakeholders in all the municipalities — including mayors, and town councils, to build a prospectus that they could present to tourism operators, businesses operators, entrepreneurs, and residents to ensure global buy-in for their plans. The overarching theme of being stronger together galvanized everyone to work hard for the future.

Creative Collaborations

Paulette also describes some of the “risky, bold, and different” collaborations that Envision Saint John set up, including an amazingly creative collaboration with high-profile local band Tomato/Tomato that highlighted all the things that local people loved about the area in a song which became the anthem of summer 2021.

She also shares how they created a series of community handbooks personalized for the visitor and how the collaborations and campaigns started in 2021 will carry the organization forward into 2022 and beyond.


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