From early 2007, I worked first as the International Media Relations Officer for the Quito Visitors' Bureau, then as Head of Communication in 2008, and then Head of Strategic Marketing and Communication in 2009 until I left in May 2010. I had worked for the organisation since 2004, editing their website and the monthly newsletter in English.
I had an extemely busy time and it was a hugely rewarding experience working for the benefit of my adopted city and its two million inhabitants. Although our budgets were small and our team pretty miniscule, we achieved a lot, earning the respect of the travel industry both in Ecuador and abroad.
I believe we contributed a great deal towards Quito gaining a place on the tourism and media map. For example, the city made the New York Times Travel "Places to Go in 2008" in December - a great seal of approval from a world authority.
I worked in conjunction with the Bureau's representation companies in the UK and in Germany, copywriting for both advertorial and advertising, working on online seminars, attending trade and consumer shows, and liaising with journalists.
I worked on various Bureau promotional projects in the travel industry in the United States and Canada, including a roadshow titled 'Meet Ecuador' (2007, 2008 and 2009), and the follow-pon 'See Ecuador' in 2008 and 2009 (see some photos here). I was responsible for putting together the presentations on Ecuador given by Pancho Dousdebes. All the events were regarded as great successes.
I worked with my colleagues on dozens of press trips from all corners of the world, including Travel Channel's 'Passport to Latin America with Samantha Brown' in 2007 and Travel Channel UK's programme on Ecuador of 2009. Quito also got coverage in CNN.com and MSN Latino, as well as USA Today, New York Times, The Guardian, Enorm, Deutche Zeitung, and many, many more titles.
From 10th to 12th September 2008, Quito and Ecuador hosted the continent's most important travel industry event, Travel Mart Latin America.
The event itself took place over 11 and 12th in the beautifully decorated Centro de Exposiciones in modern Quito, although the city invited participants to spend an extra night for free on the 9th, and organised a 'Quito Special Day' on the 10th (see here for more on that).
In order to entice more foreign 'buyers' to get to know Ecuador, the Organising Committee put together a website for special pre- and post-tours offered by Ecuadorian tour operators participating in the event. I led the creative team for that project and put together the texts for the website - one I'm pretty proud of.
Apart from the business-side of Travel Mart going extremely well - with a record number of appointments and attendees - many people rated this year's event the best ever. There were huge, choreographed social events in the city for both the Opening and Closing Reception. The opening ceremony in the Old Town alone involved over 300 artists!
I was in charge of the Press and Public Relations sub-committee - there were 13 sub-committees in all (!). We organised an international press group 20-strong over two weeks in all, including a producer from Travel Channel International and BBC World's 'Fast Track' programme.
We also generated a lot of press in Ecuador and firmly got the message across about the importance of the event to the tourist industry, and the industry's importance to the country's economy.
President Rafael Correa and Mayor Paco Moncayo both gave good speeches at the Inauguration Ceremony, at which I was honoured to be master of ceremonies (> right).
Find out more about Travel Mart madness here.
I put a lot of energy and thought into the city's promotional website. We restructured and reworked the whole thing in 2007, triplicating the content and hopefully making it a) far more easy to find information, and b) far more inspirational. The new site went live in September 2007. It soon ranked at the top of Google for many search terms and when I left in May 2010, was registering 40,000 unique visitors a month.
I believe the team I headed up made the site one of the best 'official' websites worldwide, with great navigation, search capabilities and a degree of interactivity not usually found on such websites.
> Publishing update:
» Insight Guides: recently-published new edition of their Ecuador guide which I worked on.
» Bloom, a book by Ecuadorian photographer Anamaría Chediak on the flowers and flower farms of Ecuador, for which I wrote the texts for 18 farms as well as the introduction and an article about the industry.
» Spirit of the Huaorani, text editing for Pete Oxford's new book on the Huaorani Indians of Ecuador's Amazon,
» Plumas, Photographer Murray Cooper's book on Ecuadorian birds, which I edited sections of.
» "Heart and Soul" in Geographical, August 07 issue, about Quito.
See WORDS for more on these...