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Tourism industry and events, with Paula Lewis [Interview]

Posted on 06/13/2019

“Events are essential in brand marketing. It is the perfect opportunity to show your target audience everything your product/service is about.”

What do the tourism and the event industry have to do with each other? Paula Lewis, Partner of Spotlight Marketing & PR, is probably the best person to explain us how both act together in a whole brand marketing plan. She´s been ahead of projects to clients such as Visit Florida, Macy´s and Universal Orlando. Now she shares some of the most valuable information about how to enchant clients through brand experiences.


IE: Who ́s Paula Lewis when she’s not creating and shaping the next big idea?

I am a mother of two young adults – Matthew (21) and Cassidy (19).  As much as I would love for them to still need me like they did when they were little that is no longer the case.   With both of them being away in university, I now have more time to indulge in my passion of travel. I am a nomad and wanderer.   One of the reasons, I love the tourism industry (aside from the wonderful personal and professional relationships I have made) is that for the past 20 years it has opened my horizons as I have traveled the world.  

Not only have I enjoyed tremendously discovering new places; but it brings me a sense of happiness and well-being that no other activity I partake in delivers. My first professional work trip was to Argentina when I was just 24 years old.  Walking through the colorful streets of San Telmo, I realized then how small my world really had been up to that point. Now as a 46 year old, I felt the same experience as I explored the streets of Shanghai admiring how different our worlds were yet having a common link through our humanity.


Denise Arenciba and Paula Lewis, Partners in Spotlight Marketing & PR.

IE: You’ve delivered exceptional brand marketing projects to clients such as Choose Chicago, Visit Florida, Tourism Toronto, Universal Orlando and other major key players. How did you take the decision to specialize in the tourism industry? Does that differ from projects you developed for other industries?

Life has a funny way of making decisions for you.   I did not choose the tourism industry; it chose me. After I graduated from University, I set out to work as a journalist.   I soon realized that starting at the bottom in that career path was not going to pay my bills. So, I got a job as an executive assistant at VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism office in Tallahassee Florida because it paid higher than being a writer.   Even thought it was not ideal; within 10 months of working there a position opened up for Public Relations Representation in Latin America. It was like the job had been designed specifically for me. Here I was only Spanish speaking person in the company and my professional degree was in Public Relations.   So, I applied for the job and 23 years later; I am still in the tourism industry.

I fell in love with it from the moment I was the assistant to the VP of Marketing and Sales, moving up to PR representative and then within 5 years to Director of all Latin America. Then I ventured out own my own and in 2011 my partner and I started Spotlight Marketing & PR and signing on our first client, VISIT FLORIDA. Until this day, I have had no desire to experience any other industry.   Everything about the tourism industry drives my passions. Aside from travel perks; this industry is relationship driven and understanding what makes people make decisions, what brings them happiness; what motivates them; their psychological psyche makes this industry a perfect place to continue to grow personally and professionally.

Whether I am working for a destination as Chicago or Florida or a service/product like Macy’s or Hertz when executing projects, I strive to find what MOTIVATES what INSPIRES potential clients/visitors to want to have those experiences.   Once I find that “it factor” I try to apply and theme to each event and let it develop.


IE: By the way, what’s your definition of what is an event? I mean, people sometimes can fall into that common place where they picture another trade fair or a conference with speakers. But how does that differ from the real thing and how important would you say events are on a brand marketing strategy?

Events are essential in brand marketing.   It is the perfect opportunity to show your target audience everything your product/service is about; inform them but, most of all, leave them wanting MORE!  If someone attends an event we have executed, and they desire taking the experience to the next level; then I have done my job.

Aside from leaving them wanting more; it is extremely important that before we start planning any kind of event/activation/PR plan, the first thing we to do is define our client’s goals and objectives. Many planners dive right into planning without even considering this crucial bit of information.  Only way your event will be a success is if it’s aligned with your client’s goals.

It is essential to go back to the basics to make an impact when planning a project.  Goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based and if you can add a WOW or SURPRISING FACTOR you will have a winning event!


IE: Spotlight Marketing & PR has a promise: “Create. Excite. Succeed. Let us place the spotlight on you”. As the Co-Founder and President of the business, how do you keep it with that promise?

Today’s world is empowered by buyers.  Marketers need to take advantage of every opportunity they have to build and maintain relationships with them, create goodwill, and earn trust.  I feel, the modern consumer wants MORE than a normal sales pitch when making decisions on what to buy or experience.

They like to evaluate all options.  We excel at putting the “Spotlight” on our clients because we factor the personality of today’s buyers into any marketing activation, we execute for them.  We want to offer a unique opportunity to interact with target audiences and deliver a firsthand sense of our specific client’s focus, perspective, and personality.  


IE: Every single recent trend seems to point out to innovation. For instance: during SXSW 2019, which happened earlier this year, the word “innovative” has been pronounced more than 650.000 times. As a marketing professional, PR specialist and event planner, is that changing any of your processes like creating, planning, managing or delivering projects? How?

I believe any good marketer will try to innovate any opportunity they get.  Coming up with new ideas will always bring positive impact to any business such as new products or services. By innovating we aim at positioning the client business in a new angles as well as addressing the customers’ needs. As the dynamics of business keep changing on a daily basis, so are the marketing strategies and that’s why we have to be part of the innovation process.

Another angle to consider is creativity and Innovation. Together they break boundaries. In many ways, marketing disciplines not only permit but demand this approach.  As an example, a sales reps need to have bigger visions and find creative ways in the evolving technology and business landscape to achieve their goals. Marketing needs to constantly find creative ways to reach audiences and devise workable solutions to bring their brands to the latest channels. Creativity and innovation will lead marketers and their clients to the next level.


Don´t forget to check these other valuable tips on events mastery:

Visit Spotlight Marketing & PR to check the newest projects Paula Lewis is working at the moment. You can also find her on LinkedIn.

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