After 18 years at Long Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in California, president and CEO Steve Goodling is always looking for new ways to wow visitors.
“Meeting attendees are looking for unique experiences. They don’t just want four walls and an ice sculpture,” he says. That is why after seeing how a TED conference in his town was able to transform the space using lighting and furniture, he was inspired to create a turnkey experience unlike anything else.
A recent $60 million reimagining of Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center included a half-million dollars for theatrical lighting and rigging, one of the most sophisticated systems in the country. “It allows magic to happen and then with the flick of a switch it is gone,” Goodling says.
To capitalize on Long Beach’s unique outdoor urban opportunities, Goodling advocated for some $10 million to go into activating the underside of an overpass with lighting and street art. Both will serve as a backdrop attendees will take pictures of and post online, encouraging others to attend in future years.
The Pennsylvania native and Penn State marketing grad started his hospitality career with Marriott Hotels and stayed for a decade. He also spent time in Asia with Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels as director of marketing.
Goodling is active in the local community. He serves on the advisory board for the California Coalition of Equality and Justice. He also works with Children Today, Ronald McDonald House, Millers Children’s Hospital, Boy Scouts and Cambodia Town.
Goodling arrived in Long Beach in 2000 and brought events as diverse as the 2004 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials and the AKC World Championship dog show to town.
Goodling understands the point of conventions is connections, so creating opportunities in the new Pacific Ballroom at Long Beach Arena to mingle was an important part of building out the space. “Pods of seating encourage collaboration and create a sense of community,” Goodling says.
After all, creating community is what Goodling has been doing all his life.
Visit Phoenix hired Ronnie Collins as director of sales for its convention sales team. Collins previously held the position of director of sales and marketing at the newly opened Hilton Cleveland Downtown, which is attached to Cleveland Convention Center. After he attended University of Arizona, Collins began an extensive career in the hospitality industry, specifically in food and beverage. He was director of sales and marketing for a number of Hilton and Starwood properties in the southwestern United States.
Hilton Orlando named Chris Mueller as general manager for the 1,417-room hotel. Mueller served as catering and convention services director at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort as well as Yacht and Beach Club Resort. As general manager, he will oversee the daily operation of the hotel, as well as develop business strategies that drive growth for the company. Mueller received a Bachelor of Science degree in hotel restaurant and tourism administration from the University of South Carolina.
Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas, announced the appointment of Scott Allen as general manager of the newly opened 1,800-room resort on Nassau’s Cable Beach. Allen will be responsible for managing the staff, and will oversee 20 food and beverage outlets along with Grand Hyatt’s signature Grand Club and Baha Mar Convention Center. Allen has 28 years of experience and previously served as general manager for Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort on Maui, Hawaii.
Visit Sacramento in California appointed current Chief Operating Officer Mike Testa as its next president and CEO, succeeding Steve Hammond. Testa will oversee the organization’s role in booking conventions, meetings, and trade shows for Sacramento Convention Center and local hotels, promoting Sacramento’s farm-to-fork identity nationally to consumers, and charting the course for the Sacramento Sports Commission. public relations after working for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership from 1998 to 2001.