Aug 17, 2021
We have the great pleasure of speaking to an amazing leader in our industry today! Jason Dunn is the Vice President of Diversity Sales and Inclusion for the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is also the former Chairman of the Board of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals and the current Co-chair of the Equity Task Force of the Global Events Industry Council.
In this episode, Jason shares his insight and some very concrete ideas regarding necessary conversations for our industry.
We hope you enjoy listening to our insightful conversation with Jason Dunn today!
Jason Dunn’s bio:
Jason Dunn has been a change-maker in Cincinnati and within the national hospitality industry for almost two decades. He feels driven to redefine how the industry thinks about multicultural and diversity meetings and their impact on the destinations.
Since joining the CVB in 2004, Jason has led efforts to deliver significant new convention business and forged inroads with the national multicultural & diverse meetings market. During his tenure, the number of multicultural/diverse meetings in Cincinnati has represented more than one-third of all CVB new business from 2008-18, with a direct visitor spend of $200 million. Jason brings deep perspective and a successful track record in connecting communities of all backgrounds to Cincinnati. As the first supplier to be elected as Chairman of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP), Dunn found intersections between his role as GVP in Cincinnati and Chairman of NCBMP.
Under Dunn’s leadership, the partnership with global industry organizations including Meetings Professional International, Destination International, Events Industry Council, & Connect Meetings will provide an equitable exchange/introducing of professional development through educational opportunities. The partnerships will focus on unifying the MICE industry by leading with data and mutual access to untapped resources.
Jason comes from Columbus, Ohio. He came to Cincinnati to study in 1998 and joined the Convention Bureau in 2004.
There was great unrest in Cincinnati after the fifteenth African American man was shot and killed by the police in 2001. Jason got involved on a grassroots level in protesting and leading the students and the younger generation in telling people not to go to Cincinnati. Afterward, the Vice-mayor at the time asked Jason to help find ways to bring people back to Cincinnati, collaborate in bringing people together to save the city, and have the tough discussions that they had been avoiding before the unrest.
The Convention Bureau
In 2004, Jason was asked to work for the Convention Bureau. He moved up from the Sales and Event Manager to become the first black Vice President of the Convention Bureau in its 76-year history.
Crippling a city
Jason saw that you could cripple a city by starving it of the money that comes to a destination through conventions and tourism. Insufficient economic investment does not allow for economic vitality. So corporations and small businesses feel that the location is neither ready nor stable enough to host secure conventions.
Looking at business, Jason saw that African Americans had severe difficulty accepting who they were and a deficiency in understanding their power.
Jason Dunn’s desire to empower communities
That was why when Jason first joined the organization, he enjoyed discussing ways to use tourism as an opportunity to empower communities and advance policy by using macro resources to help micro discussions.
Uplifting local, regional, and state organizations
Jason was instrumental in bringing thousands of people to various regions to uplift their local, regional, or state organizations. Those people felt like they were part of the fabric of the communities they were visiting, and after the conventions, the local chapters felt empowered to do the work they were founded to do.
Jason looked at tourism through the economic lens. He also looked at it through the lens of empowerment to help people satisfy their group objectives and use their national resources to assist them locally.
The first international equity travel report
Next year, Jason intends to publish the first international equity travel report to highlight the significance of black travelers in the hospitality industry.
New and different ways
We need to be innovative and think of ways to broaden the conversation around budget and talent. We also need strategies for looking at the future and building our database and subsets of marketing opportunities.
Small business owners
Jason suggests that small business owners in the meetings and events industry notice what other communities are doing to become conscious of diversity and ensure that everyone has a welcoming experience. They can also look at the data coming out of his partnership with Destination International and other organizations and start looking at the future demographics of their cities, regions, and local municipalities to see if they align with their future customer.
The goals of small business owners in the meetings and events industry need to have a broader sense of purpose.
The Event Industry Council Equity Task Force
The goal of the EIC Task Force is to accelerate the eradication of racism in the hospitality industry. They are committed to finding strategic ways to help people achieve that goal. A survey will be done globally throughout the industry to create guidelines and help solve the issues found via the survey.
The expected outcome of the toolkit to be created by the EIC Task Force will be to assist organizations to choose their board members, assess how good their budgets and marketing targets are, and help with the HR policies that they will need when hiring employees.
How the industry can help things change
When facing non-inclusive or prejudiced individuals, the meetings and events industry can help bring about change by creating a space for people to have open, honest, and uncomfortable discussions.
Tourism can lead
Jason believes that tourism can be the leader in almost every aspect of business across the globe.
Jason Dunn’s advice for leaders
Jason advises leaders to remember to be humane, compassionate, and authentic. It will allow them to feel more centered, bring about loyalty from their stakeholders and those they lead, and make their leadership decisions a lot easier.
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