By: Caitlyn Blizzard, Destinations International
We are excited to welcome Gretchen Hall to the Destinations International team as our new chief operating officer. With over 20 years of experience in the travel industry, Gretchen has a proven track record of strong leadership, sustainable growth, innovative strategy and delivering results. She is a respected leader holding positions on various travel industry association boards and committees. Prior to joining Destinations International, Gretchen worked at the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) and in the sports industry; developing and managing youth basketball tournaments across the US.
During her tenure at LRCVB, Gretchen provided leadership with several signature developments including the Grand Opening of the Clinton Presidential Center, the 50th Anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School which including the opening of a new National Parks Museum and managing the $70 million renovation and expansion of Robinson Performance Hall and Conference Center. As Chief Operating Officer, Gretchen is responsible for the strategic development, implementation, communication and retention of global membership and partner initiatives for Destinations International.
Favorite destination and why?
There are too many to name. I love finding the uniqueness of destinations, whether that be scenic beauty, cultural engagement, amazing attractions, or individuals you meet along the journey. Each destination has a story to tell, and I want to know them all.
In one sentence, what is your job at Destinations International?
I am responsible for the strategic development, implementation, communication and retention of global membership and partner initiatives for Destinations International.
How long have you been with Destinations International?
I started on April 1, 2022…..and that’s not an April fools joke!
What was your first job in the tourism industry?
I started on the events side of tourism, working in the sports industry, developing and managing youth basketball tournaments across the US.
When you were growing up, what was your dream job?
I considered architecture because I enjoyed art and drawing and figured that was a better financial decision verses trying to make it as an artist. I also considered sports medicine until I discovered I might need to live in a biology lab for 8 years to complete the required education. I always loved traveling but never knew there was an industry behind it as a career option until I stumbled into it. Life has a way of working out!
What is your favorite thing about this industry?
I feel travel breaks down barriers and misconceptions about people and places. It broadens our horizons; our views of the world and the enriching experiences we have when we travel create lifelong memories. And I love the impact travel spending has, truly benefiting local economies in numerous ways.
What is your bucket list vacation?
My bucket list is extremely long and growing.
What is one fact about you that surprises people?
That I can give a good men’s haircut. Many months into the pandemic when barbershops were mandated closed, my father desperately needed a haircut so I offered and now he’s decided he will never go back. So, once a month he cooks me dinner in exchange for a haircut.
What is your favorite restaurant/meal in the world that you have tried when traveling?
That’s a tough one. I’ve had so many wonderful meals and food experiences when traveling. Most often it’s the people I’m with that’s more memorable than the food, but perhaps one of the most memorable food experiences I’ve had was trying to find a local Italian restaurant from one of Rick Steve’s travel guide recommendations in Venus. A community with no maps, very few road signs and a lot of dead-end alleys. Just before giving up, we decided to try one more alleyway through a very short rock tunnel and once we were able to stand up upon emerging on the other side, we discovered a quaint little restaurant and enjoyed the most amazing pear ravioli I’ve ever tasted.
I am overly competitive about...