Virginia Green Announces 2015 Green Travel Star and Green Travel Leader Award Winners!

Congratulations to Laura Wood Habr and Croc’s 19th Street Bistro, Dennis & Katherine Stebbins & Kelly Manchester Green Leaf and Pebble Tea Spa, Leslie Clements Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center & Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau – including Kimberlee Dobbins and Scott Warren on their awards for the Virginia Beach Convention Center and Virginia Beach Visitors Center!

The Virginia Green program presented the Virginia Green Travel Star Award today to 21 Virginia tourism businesses for their commitments to green tourism practices at the third annual Virginia Green Travel Conference and Travel Star Awards Celebration. In addition, 21 tourism businesses were recognized and received the Virginia Green Travel Leader Award for their efforts to protect the environment and promote green tourism in Virginia.

The conference was held at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel and Conference Center and featured more than 35 presentations on green tourism efforts in Virginia. The awards were presented by Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, with assistance from Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

The Virginia Green program is run through a partnership of the Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association (formerly the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association), and the Virginia Green Travel Alliance. The program encourages green practices in Virginia’s tourism industry, and nearly 1,700 tourism businesses and other organizations have self-certified their green commitments through the Virginia Green program.

Thank you to First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, Virginia Green, Executive Director, Tom Griffin and Virginia Tourism Corporation President Rita McClenny for the Recognition for our Virginia Green Travel awards.

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Department Leadership Meeting Recap

City Manager Dave Hansen’s opening remarks

  • Doug Smith is out today interviewing for Jim Ricketts replacement
  • Merit pay system is going back into the budget. No details on requirements were discussed.
  • City Council is in a good place and are appreciative of staffs’ work
  • Dave suggested we should stay informed about Council’s positions on issues and support them when discussions are taking place with context to the City. Light rail was brought up as an example – as in the City supports light rail. It’s OK to have a personal position but the City’s position is in support of the project.
  • There will be Council briefs on department budgets. Dave will be controlling most of the messaging. Budget is in better shape than we thought earlier.
  • We have an aggressive legislative agenda in Richmond, and moving it forward is difficult. He said the lobbyist are effective and that we don’t have much clout. Dave stressed how different the environment is in Richmond.


Catheryn Whitesell introduced Nancy Glassman of Continental Research, the firm hired to conduct the City’s Citizen Satisfaction Survey every two years. Many of you have seen the results. Nancy was very encouraged.

Survey highlights:

  • 19 of 30 City services ranked above 80% satisfaction rating
  • 94% satisfied with services overall
  • 46% of citizens learn info about the city on the web or email
  • 95% of citizens thing VB is a good place to live
  • Overall scores have hit a plateau this year. Not much higher to go.


Heidi Kulber, MD, MPH – Director Virginia Beach Health Department presented Advance Care Planning or ACP

  • ACP allows for people to make their own plans, in advance, for the care you want when you reach a stage that you are no longer capable of deciding how you will be cared for.
  • Advanced Directives, Living Wills, and Advanced Care Planning are all similar
  • Less than 30% of adults have advance directives
  • Short video on Advance Care 1 min 26 sec
  • Interesting facts: in 1900 average age  at death was 47, today it is 78.8
  • In 1900, 34% of people died of infection in 3-4 days
  • Today people die of Heart Disease 25%, Cancer 23%, COPD 6% – All of these illness have treatments that can extend life.
  • Making a plan for extended care is more important than ever.
  • ACP can be as simple as downloading and completing forms from Sentara Health Care’s website, to more advanced legal documents.


Economic Development – Presented Virginia Beach’s Economic Platforms. Most can be found at


Questions for Dave

  • Yes, a 4th Deputy City Manager is planned
  • The hiring freeze has been more like a Controlled Recruiting Activity
  • Super Tuesday is next week. You must declare your party affiliation to vote.


Last Meeting

Standing ovation given to Chief Bruce Edwards, Director Virginia Beach EMS who is retiring after 40 years with the City.

CVB Supports Workforce Development Efforts

The CVB is proud to support workforce development efforts by the Virginia Beach hotel association. The CVB is an active part of the hotel community CVB employees serve on their community relations committee. Tourism supports more than 12,000 jobs in Virginia Beach. Special thanks to Diana Burke, executive director of the hotel association, for all of her hard work. This week she is on her way to Virginia Tech to promote Virginia Beach as a place to live, work, play and visit.

Where else can you truly live the life?

New Hire: John Mayer Q&A

Last week our CVB family was joined by a new Public Relations member “John Mayer”. John will be taking over as the new Media & Communications Coordinator. We thought it would be fun to sit down with John and get to know him better on a personal level.

Do you have any children, a significant other, siblings, or pets?
No children, one fiancé (Abi), 1 older brother, 1 older sister, and one cat named Hailey (a dog is hopefully forthcoming)

What is your all-time best Halloween costume?
When I was little, I ripped a good chunk of my nose off while attempting to climb a fence at daycare. So, with a stitched together nose and a bruised, swollen face, my parents dressed me up as a boxer. People thought my parents were professional makeup artists.

How do you recharge?
As boring as it sounds, I am all about my morning routine. Wake up, drink coffee, eat breakfast, go to the gym, meditate briefly, shower, and then work. It helps get every day off to a good start.

Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Several people claim I remind them of Vince Vaughn, but it’s only when I talk too much…

Have you ever played any musical instruments?
I practiced piano, percussion, and singing growing up. Now, I (poorly) play guitar and ukulele.

What is your favorite food or drink to make?
Fish tacos with mango salsa, chipotle sour cream, lime and cabbage, with a beer on the side

What is the first live concert you can remember seeing?
Savage Garden at the Ohio State Fair… Hopefully my musical tastes have improved since I was ten.

Who is your favorite sports figure ever?
Archie Griffin, obviously. Go Bucks

What is your favorite place that you have vacationed?
Asheville, North Carolina. If you haven’t been, you should definitely go.

What is one piece of advice you would give others about life?
Keep learning.

Convention Sales Support Team at iFly

The Convention Sales support team had a professional development/team building outing on February 8th. They flew at iFly followed by lunch at Chicho’s and a hotel site tour at the Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

In photo from left to right: Shantese Putman, Tanisha Brown, Elisabeth Parker

Director Updates

I have three quick updates I would like to share.

First, Doug Smith is handling the hiring process for the new Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Searchwide has been hired as the executive search firm ( Searchwide will pre-screen applicants and send the list to Doug. At this point Doug is looking to have interviews the end of February.

Second, Tiffany Russell, our Director of Public Relations, will be our interim VP for Marketing and Research until the position can be filled. Mr. Smith has asked the department to hold off on hiring this position until a new director can be hired.

Third, CONGRATUALTIONS to the Virginia Beach Convention Center staff for hosting a wonderful 10th Anniversary Celebration. Without your hard work and dedication the VBCC would not be as successful as it is.

Thank you again for all your hard work and dedication.

Jim Ricketts

Team Travels Proclaiming: “Bring It To The Beach!”

To the outside world they may believe there is an off-season here in Virginia Beach, but as we all know here at the CVB there is no such thing as an off-season and they have proven that. They hit the ground running at the start of the New Year traveling literally across the globe to “Bring it to the Beach!”

The very first week of January, Jamie Mitchell presented our new exhibit booth in San Diego, CA during the Religious Conference Managers Association’s annual meeting. The following week, Todd Bertka, Sally Noona, and Jane White hosted two client events in Vancouver, BC while attending the Professional Conference Managers Association. Lisa MacArthur had a very successful sales mission to the greater Chicago area, while Dawn Whittaker attended the Diversity Conference in Atlanta, GA. Closer to the end of the month, this team hosted two very important site visits: Sister Cities International and CVC East representing citywide opportunities in 2016 and 2017.

Tips For Getting Local Media Coverage

Want to help your client get local press? Want to have your professional work and projects recognized locally? Here are some questions to ask. Anyone one of these criteria may qualify for local media interest.

1. NEW. If your event/group is a returning event, what is new this year? (If it is a new event/group, that is newsworthy).

2. VISUAL APPEAL. Do you have a high-res photo of something unique about your event/group that can be sent to the media?

3. DIFFERENT. Is there anything unusual about your event/group (quirky, funny, curious, thought-provoking, trend-setting)?

4. BROAD-BASED APPEAL. Does your event/group appeal to a small/niche market or is there universal appeal?

5. EMPLOYEE/CELEBRITY SPOTLIGHT. Is there a particular person for your event/group that should be highlighted for being extraordinary?

After having these discussions with your client, send a photo with your “pitch” to the Communications Unit (it can be just a few sentences) to We will review your news, and if it meets the criteria we will distribute in one or all of the following ways:
-Employee blog
-Industry newsfeed article on
-Industry Social Media Channels (Facebook, Twitter)
-Direct pitch to local reporter
-Press release to local media list

Additionally, if your team is doing something great, tell us. This can be securing new business, getting a certificate, photos from a cool trip, awards, on the road photos, random facts about your life you want to share with staff… email Include a photo!