By Erin Setter, MMGY Global
I started at Brand USA on the Partner Services team; our boss is quoted saying, “we are ALL partner services.” We held the belief that accounting, legal, communications, integrated marketing, global trade and research all worked for us as we worked for our partners. It doesn’t matter what your title is because we all have the same goal. The 30 Under 30 experience has been a continuation of this attitude. My fellow honorees have a variety of titles and come from all over North America but we share the desire to learn and grow in the industry. Our monthly Zooms with industry leaders provide the opportunity to learn about different segments of the destination marketing and management industry. We don’t hold the attitude that our current job descriptions should stop us from learning about other parts of the industry because we understand hospitality is an ecosystem.
In this COVID-19 world, the 30 Under 30 experience looks different than previous years. I had filmed my application video before sitting down with friends for a double feature of Fast & Furious films. I wrote my essay about what community shared values mean to me using examples of small, USA destinations I had recently visited on business. Applications were still being considered when our industry ground to a halt in March 2020 and most organizations had to lay off or furlough employees. It is an honor to be chosen for the 2020 class. It comes with an underlying mixture of survivor’s guilt and gratitude to still be employed in order to receive the recognition.
I applaud the Destinations International staff members who took over and have provided this amazing experience for my class. All of our interactions have occurred over zoom, but it somehow feels more intimate than four days at a convention would have been. It was a fun exercise to match a headshot to what someone really looks like while working from home. In addition to the monthly learning webinars, we have Destinations International’s Online Community private 30u30 group where we can ask questions of each other and post resources. We have informal zooms that feel more like tourism support groups than networking. 2020 has proved that it is possible to make friends over the internet without ever having met in person.
I look forward to meeting my fellow honorees in person one day and raising a glass to toast the spirit of hospitality. We all know the human soul longs to travel and that the hospitality industry returning will lead the way for the economy to come up to full strength. It doesn’t make the waiting any easier but I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and have some great company alongside me.
Erin Setter is a manager, partner engagement for Brand USA. In this role, Erin is responsible for developing and nurturing relationships with Brand USA partners in the Midwest to maximize partner participation in cooperative marketing programs and securing contributions annually. Erin joined Brand USA in October 2015 as a partner service representative and, in two years, managed the execution of contracts to fulfill partner marketing plans with Brand USA. She previously worked as a research assistant on annual support service contracts. In college, she interned for the industry relations manager at Explore Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota.
About the Author
Manager, Partner Engagement