Erin Duggan, 37

1 Posted by - October 13, 2016 - 2016, Sarasota-Manatee, Sarasota-Manatee 2016

Vice president, Visit Sarasota County

Erin Duggan loves to explore. She spends her free time testing out everything that Florida has to offer, “from farmers markets, to beaches to restaurants, to shopping districts and state parks,” she says. “I love to explore my backyard.”

“I was that annoying girl in college that talked about where I was from and why it was better than anywhere else,” Duggan says. She had no idea that was an actual job.

Today, Duggan is vice president of Visit Sarasota County, Sarasota’s convention and visitors bureau.

She oversees Visit Sarasota’s brand, public relations, advertising, partnerships and programming.

“I’m always really proud of fun campaigns on a shoestring budget,” Duggan says.

Duggan helped set up Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week in response to business drying up after Memorial Day. The program helped bring a significant increase in traffic to restaurants in June, according to the bureau.

But most of the organization’s advertising focuses outside the state.

Some people think, “If you build it, they will come. People think you don’t need to market,” Duggan says. Though she wishes that were the case, a number of cities have lost traction when they’ve deserted advertising tourism.

For a recent campaign in Boston, Duggan’s team was able to measure the impact its advertising spend had on tourism.

The county advertised in magazines, broadcast, digital advertisements on the Weather Channel and TripAdvisor and a full-page ad in the Boston Pops holiday program.

Visitors to the Visit Sarasota County website from Massachusetts increased 119.7% in November and 46.6% in December year over year.

— Traci McMillan Beach

Q&A

Name: Erin Duggan

Age: 37

City of residence: Lakewood Ranch

Twitter handle: @VisitSarasota (Professional Handle)

Employer: Visit Sarasota County (Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Title: Vice President

Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina

Years on the Gulf Coast: 30 years

Marital status/children: Married (Patrick), two children, Brett (9) and William (6)

Alma mater: Florida Southern College (Go Moc’s!)

Best place to network: Become involved in one or a few of the chambers, associations or business alliances within Sarasota County.  The more you give when you get involved, the more you expand your network.  I’m in the current Leadership Sarasota class with the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and I’ve met some of the nicest folks imaginable. 

Coolest business experience:  When you find yourself in San Francisco, New York City, London, Berlin or Munich for work – that’s a pretty cool business experience.  The fact that I get to share what makes Sarasota County so special when I get there is the icing on the cake. 

Messy desk or clean workspace: Somewhere in the middle.

Best business lesson ever learned: Mistakes and mishaps provide me the most valuable lessons.  Accepting accountability and finding solutions for how best to procced go a long way in successful business relationships.

A website that makes your job easier: Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have been game changers when it comes to motivating consumers to travel.  Years ago we relied heavily on a few elite travel media to influence travel, now we see the power behind every voice – and when folks brag and boast via social media sites about their positive experiences in a Sarasota County community, it is critical for us to aggregate that content to ensure it echoes far and wide.

Community group you’re most involved with: Junior League of Sarasota (Current President Elect).  I love how being a part of this one organization allows me to touch so many different meaningful and impactful nonprofits and causes.  It has literally been my “home base” for 15 plus years. 

Favorite off-hours activity: I love exploring Florida.  I try to experience everything the state has to offer as often as possible.  From farmer markets, to beaches, to restaurants – to shopping districts and State parks.  I love to explore my back yard.  With everything a simple car ride away – there is no excuse not to get out and go! 

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: I’m at a point in my life where if I have time to have dinner with anyone – I want to ensure it is a dinner full of laughter.  With that in mind, I’d say Jimmy Fallon and Amy Schumer.  What can I say, I’m a girl that appreciates a sense of humor and sarcasm. 

What you would be doing if you could pick another career: I think I’d enjoy a career in medicine because I like talking to people.  Whilst I didn’t have the stomach for medicine when I was choosing a college major – after children – I can now handle anything you throw at me. 

Top item on your bucket list: While I feel blessed that I’d traveled a lot – I’d love to share that with my children.  I want to continue to fill their passports with stamps.  I want them to experience and appreciate all people and all cultures.  I want my kids to leave the world a better place, and I think the inspiration for that begins with travel. 

Skill you’d like to learn: To do more with less. 

Who would pay you in a movie about your life: Helen Hunt

If I had a magic wand I’d: End suffering of any kind.

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