EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Evaluate us by results, not personality

2013-10-13T00:05:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Evaluate us by results, not personalityBy Speros Batistatos nwitimes.com
October 13, 2013 12:05 am  • 

A recent editorial by The Times was a wake-up call about my part in the ongoing saga of the "children of tourism." The conduct of those in my industry is reprehensible, and for my part in that, I apologize.

Leadership is not easy. Ask any of the elected officials in our community and they will tell you that to affect change, you must be willing to stand for what you believe is right.

Leadership brings great responsibility — responsibility to know the rules of engagement, codes of conduct and to maintain professional integrity. While every board and staff member of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority has exhibited those traits, it is sometimes not easy to do in the face of flagrant disrespect and people who have no understanding of the rules of the game, let alone the stadium in which they are playing. Effective leadership recognizes when it's time for a change.

From this point forward, the "children of tourism" will be proceeding with one less "child." The SSCVA is not going to end its call or belief there only needs to be one CVB in this region. In many respects, SSCVA already is that organization.

Rather, we will be doubling down on the advocacy, technology, marketing, sales and leadership that differentiates us. We will out-sell, out-market, out-promote and out-service any similarly situated organization. We will continue to attract events like Lutheran Basketball, with which we have a 30-year relationship.

The SSCVA landed the Hot Rod Power Tour, which will bring 1,400 to 2,000 cars to the Lake County Fairgrounds. We were the first, and continue to be the best, at promoting amateur sports. Because of our singular efforts, the NSA Girl’s Class "B" Fast Pitch World Series will return to Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties in July.

While no one in Northwest Indiana has ever questioned our results, our efforts or our passion, recent nonvisitor-based stories have detracted from the more important conversations about visitors and the economic development their spending creates.

Rest assured our passion and commitment are growing. We will not be indulging in the unprofessional conduct of others. We will continue to aggressively advocate the need for part of the new income tax be spent on capital investment, thus putting our union brothers and sisters to work and creating facilities to entice more visitors.

We will support the reauthorization of the RDA. We will support U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and his appropriate demand to complete the West Lake Corridor. We will support any and all calls for investment in infrastructure and facilities.

We will continue to work with officials from throughout our five-county service area to promote and enhance special events. Our partnership with Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. and the Festival of the Lakes produced a tremendous amount of valuable data.

We will develop products that will increase visitor spending. We will continue to be outspoken about the results we achieve, and we will continue to be that one, cohesive voice that markets our communities the way the customer sees us.

While others continue to promote different products, we have staked ours out and are prepared to be judged, not by style or personality, rather by measurable, tangible and factual data. We ask others be evaluated similarly.

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