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Just three weeks into his new role as Senior Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer, Jon Mamela is already making an impression. Many in the industry are already familiar with Jon, but we sat down with him to get to know him better and find out how he envisions his role helping to shape the future of tourism in Alberta.

What brought you back to Alberta?

Great question. Having had the opportunity to first work with Travel Alberta over a decade ago, I was very familiar with the organization’s reputation and many of the current team members. This time around what brought me back was a combination of the opportunity with the role coupled with the business challenge that lays ahead. 

Following a stretch of twenty years working in multiple marketing and sales focused roles in both private and public organizations, the opportunity to shift my focus and lead a new area for me personally is exciting. But more importantly is the challenge that lies ahead to help lead an outstanding team committed to rebuilding and growing our visitor economy. It’s not going to be easy and that’s the appeal. I’m always up for a long-term moonshot challenge.

And outside of work, returning to Alberta also provides me an opportunity to connect more regularly with family as my mom’s side hails from Alberta. I’ll also be able to connect with many friends who reside across the province that I grew up with next door in Rider territory.

What is a Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and what will you be doing in this role?

In my capacity I’m working with a passionate team to drive Travel Alberta’s mandate on two of the three strategic pillars of our business plan: access and place. In leading the team, we will be on the ground working closely with industry and collaborating extensively with local, provincial and national partners to grow Alberta’s visitor economy. The role also requires me to direct strategic investments into airline partnerships to grow direct access into Alberta throughout the year, as well as oversee our destination management strategies that ultimately propel public and private investment opportunities.

In my view, it’s all about creating the winning conditions so that we create desirable destinations for travellers, and as a result we will far exceed our fair share of domestic and international visitor expenditures relative to other provinces.

Jon Mamela

What brought me back was a combination of the opportunity with the role coupled with the business challenge that lays ahead.

Jon Mamela

What do you hope to accomplish in your first 90 days at Travel Alberta?

Up front, let me say that the calendar is never on our side and 90 days will fly by quickly with so much more to accomplish. I also appreciate what we can and can’t do in such a short period of time, but instilling a committed ethos of a commercial-like culture is paramount. The reason being is that our expanded mandate reinforces to me that getting to where we need to go can’t be achieved on what we did in the past.

As such, I’m focusing my first 90 days with the team in three areas:

  1. Developing priority destination development strategies in support of our Bootstrap Plan,
  2. Personally re-engaging with as many operators, communities, DMOs and the government to understand the state of business, and
  3. Building the team at Travel Alberta that will be required to drive our industry’s relevance and significantly grow our contribution to Alberta’s overall economy.

From your perspective, what is Alberta’s unique competitive advantage?

I believe our unique competitive advantage is the result, or shall I say, the benefit of multiple factors. First, it’s our expanded mandate. Unlike any other province or territory that I’m aware of in Canada, we can truly become a leader in helping drive destination development. Second is the commitment of Travel Alberta to not only invest in this area, but positively disrupt the long-held playbook of how an organization like ours can bring added value without getting in the way. And lastly, it's the people in our industry. The visitor economy is a face-to-face engagement industry. The spirit of winning and getting the job done in our own unique Alberta way can pay off in significant dividends. Be it in how we tell the many stories of our destination, how we’re working closely with Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA) to build operator capacity, how we’ll collaborate with stakeholders to drive seasonality and visitor dispersion, and even how we generate sustainable development opportunities that grow Alberta’s attractiveness to leisure visitors, business conference attendees, students, and more.

With the start of the new fiscal for Travel Alberta, is there a specific initiative or program you’d like to highlight?

Absolutely. As we shared at many roadshows over the past month, coupled with additional communications coming out soon, we are maintaining our committed investment through multiple funds to assist and grow operator capacity at all stages of their business journey. Each fund has its own terms and conditions for investment and we have an experienced group of team members available to assist.

The investment funds include a focus on rural development, festivals and events, as well as three areas of: product investment, growth, and innovation. There are even opportunities for early-stage incubators that hold tremendous potential. Industry can learn more about each fund and the qualifying terms here. I’d encourage anyone interested in growing their business and capitalizing on the future growth and rebound in visitor demand to look and assess their options.

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