Lisa Meadows starts todayas the new executive director for the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
First on her to-do list is meeting her staff. While she has been to Rock Hill to interview and house hunt, she hasn’t officially been introduced to her new colleagues.
On Friday, before leaving Bristol, Tenn., for York County, she offered a glimpse of what her coworkers can expect from her. She described her work ethic as “come early, leave late” and said one of her biggest peeves is people who are late to work.
She comes to York County with a reputation for building effective, collaborative relationships. As the president of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, Meadows worked with two city governments, two county governments and two state governments.
Her travels took her to the Tennessee state capital in Nashville and Virginia’s state capital in Richmond. She can tell you where the police are most zealous in enforcing the speed limits between Bristol and the capitals.
She was so effective in her job that she was affectionately called “da Queen.” Meadows said she can’t remember how the nickname started, but it quickly stuck. Her parking space at the office even had a sign “da Queen.”
The board of directors for the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau were impressed with her ability to deal with so many entitities. They hope she can repeat that success in Charlotte and Columbia and all points in between.
“I love to network,” Meadows said. She said part of her job will be understanding the state Legislature and earning the support of the local delegation. While York County has done a good job of reminding the Legislature of tourism’s potential locally, it never hurts to remind lawmakers that people visit more than just our coast.
Meadows is also a strong believer in planning. You can’t get results if you don’t have direction, and a good strategic plan “keeps you focused, keeps you from being diverted away from your mission,” she said.
The Rock Hill/York County bureau has a plan, which Meadows wants to review. She already has done some online research of what other convention and visitors bureaus are doing, and how it might apply here.
Included in the strategic plan review will be discussions on the area’s tourism strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. There are lot of consultants who make a living doing “SWOT” – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – analysis. More than likely, Meadows and her staff can do that work without hiring a consultant.
While she comes with a fresh set of eyes, she sees several tourism similarities between York County and Bristol.
Both straddle the interstate, which means tremendous opportunities for having motor coach tours stop for an evening. Each motor coach has about 42 travelers, and that’s about a $4,000 economic impact for each coach that stops, Meadows said.
She also is interested in learning more about efforts to expand the region’s efforts to attract baby boomers nearing retirement. Typically, those looking to relocate will visit an area three or four times before making a decision, she said.
And then there’s NASCAR. The Bristol Motor Speedway brought much of the tourism to Bristol, and the speedway set high expectations for the local tourism industry. Meadows worked with Bruton Smith, owner of both the Bristol and Charlotte speedways.
While York County may be too distant from Smith’s Concord speedway, it’s just a quick zip up the interstate to Charlotte and the ailing NASCAR Hall of Fame. If Meadows could find some way to lure people to York County – and have them visit the Hall of Fame – no one would complain about that result.
Don Worthington 803-329-4066 firstname.lastname@example.org