Tammy Blount-Canavan, then executive vice president and principal at Fired-Up! Culture, leads a session at PCMA Convening Leaders 2020. The hospitality industry veteran has been named CEO of Visit Seattle. (Jacob Slaton Photography)
Tammy Blount-Canavan, FCDME, who will become CEO of Visit Seattle on May 9, spent more than a decade leading CVBs in two Western cities, first in Tacoma, Washington, and then in Monterey, California. Along the way to the job in Seattle, Blount-Canavan took a detour — she left her position at Monterey in October 2019 to become a vice president at Fired Up! Culture, a leadership consulting firm, specializing in working with destination management companies.
Looking back, Blount-Canavan said, “I went into consulting just as my target audience’s economy collapsed” amidst the pandemic-related waves of cancellations of person-to-person events in 2022. She has no regrets, however. The crisis meant that she spent many hours talking — mostly on screens — to CEOs “about what was going on in that world and what was keeping them up night,” she said. She supported clients, “but I was also able to learn so much from so many different people in so many different markets about what their realities were and how they were dealing with it — and all of the really smart things that they were doing with their teams and their communities … I’ve really being able to see what’s working and what’s not, and, and learning from them has been really powerful.”
Then as life began “to turn a little bit more normal, we started to get back to travel and connecting with each other one on one,” she said. “I’ve spent the last year-and-a-half intensely involved in helping organizations rebuild and figure out what that looks like, what are best practices? In addition to working with individual destination management organizations, I’ve also done tons of interviews with others, to get ideas on what org charts look like and what are the new positions that are needed. And this new connection with the community — what does that look like now that we’ve been through all of this trauma together?”
As teams have been rebuilding across North America, she added, we’ve seen some new priorities emerge, including community engagement, research and business analytics, destination development, more cross-functional positions, and teams as opposed to specialists. As she prepares to lead the Seattle team, “these aren’t necessarily changes to make to the Visit Seattle org chart,” she said, “but the insights gained from the work we’ve done helping people shape their future will be invaluable as we evolve as an organization.”
In her time at Fired Up! Culture, Blount-Canavan said she has “been able to develop some really great relationships and I love the work, and at the same time I’ve been able to learn more about what makes a destination organization successful than I think I ever would have had I been in the trenches in one organization. It’s been a huge privilege.”