Punching Above Your Weight Class, with Renée Areng

Episode 311

podcast photo thumbnail



Renée Areng leads Brookhaven as the inaugural Executive Director for the Brookhaven Convention and Visitors Bureau, now Explore Brookhaven since 2018.

Previously, Areng served with three destination marketing organizations: most recently, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. Throughout her leadership, Areng increased all metrics, including visitation and overall revenue for non-gaming hotels. Additionally, she unified all messaging in marketing and sales, increasing all digital and social metrics.

Most recently, Areng consulted with Destination Organizations on strategic planning, accreditation, streamlining databases, and increasing visitation. Clients include Visit South Walton, Louisiana’s Northshore, Tupelo CVB, Visit Mobile, Jeff Davis Chamber, and CVB, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, and Pat Harrison Waterway District. Before joining the Mississippi Gulf Coast, she served as Executive Vice President for Visit Baton Rouge, and she served in statewide and national political arenas.

Areng is a cum laude graduate of the University of Louisiana with a BA in Public Administration and French. She earned her Certified Destination Marketing Executive (CDME) designation from Destinations International in 2007 and served on the CDME review committee in 2018. She has led five organizations through six accreditations through Destinations International’s DMAP program.

On this Destination on the Left episode, I talk with Renee Areng about her experience building a destination marketing organization from the ground up. We discuss the key ingredients needed for the successful formation of her DMO located just outside the Atlanta Metro Area and how they proved instrumental in creating the right environment for the organization to thrive.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Why Renee was eager to join her current team in Brookhaven, Georgia
  • What’s so fascinating about working in a newly created destination
  • The unique structure of tourism in Georgia and how Renee is helping her organization punch above its weight class to stand out among Georgia’s 200 DMOs
  • How the branding strategy helped Brookhaven stand out from closeby Atlanta
  • Why it’s so important that Brookhaven is considered a viable voice at the table
  • The challenges of launching Explore Brookhaven during a global pandemic
  • Why often the most challenging part of a collaboration is getting the egos out of the equation
  • Some examples of when Renee has helped create some fantastic partnerships
  • How to connect with Renee and discover more about Explore Brookhaven

Taking Their Place at the Table

Renee shares why she believes it is so important that Brookhaven is considered a viable voice at the table. She describes why it was critical for the brand new DMO to scale to where they are being taken as seriously as the more prominent destinations in Georgia, such as Macon, Savannah, and Atlanta. Renee also shares more about her role on the board for Destinations International and how it is helping Explore Brookhaven get the recognition they deserve.

Evolving as a Destination Organization

Did you know that Renee’s breakout session at the Destination International Annual Convention in Toronto was one of the best attended at the event with standing room only?

She shares why she is so passionate about understanding how destination organizations are evolving and why she was eager to get her teeth into the opportunity that taking the reins at Explore Brookhaven offered. Renee explains the topics discussed during that session and why being clear about your value proposition is critical.

An Agile Industry

I loved speaking with Renee about how the evolving workforce is going to change the existing workplace and why it’s so necessary to recognize the need for change. The travel and tourism industry is more flexible now than it’s ever been, and Renee shares why the sector is now much more focused on the influence they have in the community rather than the number of heads in beds.


We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more o​f. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!

Related Podcasts