Rebranding Destinations & the Heart of Tourism with See Monterey's Rob O'Keefe

In this episode of the Tourism Academy podcast, join your host, Stephen Ekstrom, CEO and co-founder of Tourism Academy, as he sits down with Rob O'Keefe, the driving force behind See Monterey's remarkable rebranding journey. Rob, the mastermind behind "Find Your Way Here," shares insights into his inspiring career and the pivotal moments that brought him to where he is today.



Rob reflects on his journey and emphasizes continuously evolving and aiming high. As a proud father of three, he hopes to instill curiosity and imagination in his children, knowing these skills can open doors, especially in tourism.

One of Rob's career highlights was relaunching See Monterey's brand during his tenure as CEO. He discusses how the pandemic, while a tragedy for many, allowed his community to refocus on the significance of travel, hospitality, and experiences. Rob's commitment was to emerge stronger from the crisis, resulting in a leaner, more focused organization with unparalleled community collaboration.

Discover Rob's three essential lists for success: the to-do list, the "what's possible" list, and the "what not to do" list. Learn how these lists help him and his team navigate the complex world of destination management.

Rob's guiding light question revolves around inspiration. He believes in inspiring others to achieve beyond their perceived limits within his organization and the destination. He's passionate about watching people experience his destination, even if it means playing tourist himself.

Rob credits mentors, including board members and former colleagues, for shaping his career. He also draws inspiration from sports figures like Patrick Mahomes and the supportive community of Chiefs fans.

For those considering a career in hospitality and tourism, Rob offers valuable advice: work on raising awareness about the industry's diverse opportunities and their impact on communities. He encourages young professionals to explore various paths and never stop learning.

Rob shares his passion for gaining knowledge through reading and engaging conversations as a voracious reader and lifelong learner. He believes that continuous learning is essential in a rapidly evolving industry.

Looking ahead, Rob is set on learning to play golf and achieving a better work-life balance. He recognizes the interconnected nature of work and personal life and is committed to improving this balance.

Rob concludes with a powerful message about the importance of the tourism industry. It's a career that gives back to the community, focusing on residents' quality of life and vitality. "A career in tourism is, in many ways, a career in giving back to the community."

Take advantage of this insightful conversation between Stephen Ekstrom and Rob O'Keefe, where they delve into the heart of tourism, rebranding destinations, and the profound impact of the industry on communities. Tune in and "Find Your Way Here."

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