From Art History to Destination Marketing: Kristin McGrath's Journey

Welcome to another exciting episode of "Business Class," the podcast that delves into the hidden stories and insights of the tourism industry. I'm your host, Stephen Ekstrom, CEO of Tourism Academy, and today, we have a remarkable guest, Kristin McGrath, the Executive Director of Visit Pasadena, the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau. Kristin has had a fascinating journey, from studying art history to becoming a leader in destination marketing. Join us as we explore her path, her love for the West Coast, and the heart of her work in tourism.


Kristin shares her transition from Providence to the West Coast. She spent nine years in Providence and now can't get enough of the West Coast weather. However, she confesses missing certain East Coast delicacies like clam chowder, mussels, and oysters. Her journey to becoming an Executive Director, complete with supportive bosses, is truly inspiring.

Kristin's career in destination marketing began as a graduate with an art history degree. She had a chance encounter with someone from a CVB; the rest is history. She emphasizes the importance of making visitors feel welcome and having a memorable experience.

Kristin discusses the challenges she faces in staffing and operational decisions. She also reveals the greatest misconception about destination marketing. It's not just about fun and travel; it's about economic development and positively impacting the community.

Kristin shares her childhood aspirations of becoming a flight attendant or cruise director, inspired by "The Love Boat." She emphasizes the importance of laughter and enjoying the work while taking it seriously. She believes in sharing the unique aspects of a destination with pride.

In a lighthearted moment, Kristin shares an embarrassing professional story and reminds us to laugh at ourselves. She discusses her recent professional achievements and hints at the exciting adventures on her horizon.

Kristin reveals her quirky juggling talent and the humorous backstory behind it. This talent is a testament to her competitive spirit and willingness to embrace challenges.

Kristin's journey in destination marketing is a testament to the unexpected paths that life can take. Her passion for her work, dedication to welcoming visitors, and love for laughter make her a true asset to the industry. We're excited to see what her next big adventure holds.

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