U.S. Travel Association

Case Study

Driving an Industry Through Leadership Empowerment

The National Council of State Tourism Directors (NCSTD) provides leadership and a forum for information sharing and education on issues impacting tourism across the United States and its territories. Its members have a broad economic impact — 2.7 percent of the nation’s GDP is attributed to travel and tourism — but they often receive little support and limited resources.[1]

A Long and Winding Road
State tourism boards fuel everything from customs to county fairs, but leading one is a lonely job. As the sole advocate and leaders of the travel and tourism industry in their states, directors spend much of their time on the road, far from their staff and government networks. Thirty-three percent of surveyed tourism directors report having no mentors or guidance in their leadership role, despite the billions of dollars they bring into states across the nation every year. In this environment, efforts to align state tourism organizations often fall short of expectations or stall altogether.

NCSTD members often found themselves driving on empty, and NCSTD wanted a solution. They approached Coraggio for assistance in improving leadership and development opportunities in the industry.

Shifting Gears
Based on our wealth of experience advising travel and tourism organizations, we mapped out a program that would bring directors together to network and learn best practices in leadership, team engagement and stakeholder outreach. This two-day forum was made up of an interactive series of learning modules, with a combination of leadership insights, practical tools, and “real world” case studies to test drive their learning. They were designed to confront four key challenges:

  • Creating and communicating a clear and compelling vision and strategy
  • Building an engaged and high-performing team
  • Leadership as a strategic priority

Each module merged leadership theory and practice and incorporated a variety of media (e.g. video, printed materials, presentation and facilitated discussion) to ensure participant engagement. A close partnership with NCSTD’s vice president ensured that participants returned to their home states with the practical tools and key insights they needed to succeed.

Getting Behind the Wheel
The two-day forum provided a rare chance for the directors to empower their teams and develop their own skills and competencies–something that sometimes fell by the wayside as they focused on advocating for the tourism industry in their state. In addition to the structured lessons, members also learned from one another through peer coaching and review sessions where they shared their own experiences and provided advice.

Attendees universally reported that the forum made them more effective in leading their teams, and gave them practical tools and techniques to set and communicate their strategic priorities. Coraggio experts remained available for one-on-one strategy coaching sessions after the event. Not only have multiple states approached Coraggio about independent strategy consulting, but the industry is already revving up for next year’s Leadership Forum, which Coraggio will once again be driving.

[1] NCSTD, U.S. Travel Answer Sheet, 2017. https://www.ustravel.org/research/travel-facts-and-figures