Bringing Seattle Weather to the Desert, with Tammy Blount-Canavan

Episode 343

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Tammy Blount-Canavan’s career has spanned 30+ years and two countries, including executive leadership at Tourism Vancouver, CEO of the Tacoma Regional CVB, architect and inaugural Chair of the Washington Tourism Alliance, President and CEO of the Monterey County CVB, and now President and CEO of Visit Seattle.

Tammy is a Past Chair of Destinations International. Tammy has been recognized as CEO of the Year, one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry, twice as one of the top 25 Most Influential Women in the Industry, Leadership Supplier of the Year in the Meetings Industry, Top 100 Most Inspirational Women in the Meetings Industry, CSUMBs School of Business 2018 Community Leader of the Year, won the Global Leadership Award from Destinations International and IMEX and in 2023 is being inducted into the Smart Women in Meetings Hall of Fame.

In this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Tammy Blount-Canavan about some of Visit Seattle’s ingenious campaigns, such as rain booths in Arizona and coffee shop takeovers, which embody the unique character of Seattle. She describes how the community built a city-wide selling strategy to expand the conventions market. Tammy also shares some of the community and wider partnerships they’re involved in and how they help make the tourism industry successful.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Some of the directions you can go in when you build a career in travel and tourism marketing
  • How Visit Seattle promotes the values of their community when they’re out and about at shows
  • Some of the creative ways they share more about their communities’ benefits including a rain booth in Arizona and coffee shop takeovers
  • The challenges that COVID-19 threw in Visit Seattle’s path and how they have overcome them by collaborating on a city-wide selling strategy
  • How they make partnerships successful by talking about what they want to accomplish, how they plan to get there, and how they make sure stakeholders have complementary skills

Innovative Marketing Experiences

We spotlight the innovative approach to destination marketing taken by Visit Seattle this week. Rather than solely relying on traditional tactics like purchasing ads and attending trade shows, they put a unique spin on destination marketing by creating fun and memorable experiences at events that underscore their core values.

Visit Seattle has a knack for adding creative twists to their campaigns; last summer, they introduced a ‘rain booth’ in California and Arizona. This structure sprinkled light rain, allowing people to experience Seattle’s famous ‘cozy season’ amidst the summer heat. Participants could even create their own movie posters as though they were in Seattle, sparking conversations about the city’s unique charm.

In addition to these fresh marketing strategies, Visit Seattle capitalizes on the wealth of local celebrities and athletes who take pride in sharing the story of their city. Their ongoing “I Know a Place” campaign features local residents expressing their love for Seattle and its hidden gems. This not only highlights iconic locations but also unveils lesser-known aspects of the city.

Exemplifying Core Values

We also discuss how Visit Seattle shares how their core values—innovation, creativity, and inclusivity— not only shape their city but also their marketing strategies. Inclusivity, for instance, is manifested through partnerships with Seattle Bank and Interventionalist, supporting traditionally underrepresented BIPOC-owned businesses.

Sponsorships enable people to experience these businesses firsthand, with Visit Seattle highlighting them in their campaigns. This demonstrates a proactive approach to diversity, actively working with these businesses to tell their stories instead of merely stating the presence of diversity.

Creativity is another cornerstone of Visit Seattle’s approach. The city boasts the title of the glassblowing capital of the world, second only to Italy, and hosts an annual festival named Refract, a month-long celebration of local and renowned glass artists. Along with Refract, they organize Cloudbreak, focused on music, and Museum Month, both of which showcase Seattle’s vibrant arts scene.

Their third core value, innovation, is encapsulated in Seattle’s identity as the birthplace of global tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon, retail powerhouse Costco, and numerous other innovative ventures. This value traces back to the World’s Fair six decades ago that birthed the iconic Space Needle, highlighting the city’s longstanding history of groundbreaking ideas. Their commitment to these values is exemplified in events like the recent Pride Parade, reinforcing that inclusivity in Seattle goes beyond words—it is deeply rooted in the population’s values. Through these unique approaches, Visit Seattle is not just selling a destination but narrating an authentic story of a community that thrives on innovation, creativity, and inclusivity.


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