Michelle Conway

In a candid interview Michelle Conway, President/CEO of Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau shares her experiences and opinions with Travel And Tour World on the revival of MICE tourism industry and its future prospect after the reopening of borders.

Travel And Tour World: What, according to your opinion, is the driving force behind revival of tourism and MICE industries after the reopening of international borders?

Michelle Conway: The whole industry is coming together with industry’s cohesive voice of “Meeting Means Business.”

During this pandemic as leisure destination, Sedona especially benefited from its wide open spaces, the outdoor adventure and wellness opportunities available for visitors.

Travel And Tour World: What are your ideas and plans to reinforce Sedona as a sustainable tourism destination?

Michelle Conway: The impact of tourism permeates everyday life in Sedona.  Our community agrees that tourism management should support sustainability goals such as a cleaner environment, a high quality of life and a sound economy.  Getting our three million plus annual visitors informed, engaged and fully on board with this effort will significantly determine our success.  We have several initiatives that help us connect with both our visitors and residents, not only to obtain their support but to also enlist their participation:

 

  • Respect Red Rock Country initiatives
  • Sedona Cares Pledge
  • Partnership with Leave No Trace
  • Sedona’s Secret 7
  • Sedona Trai Keepers Program
  • Fly Friendly agreement
  • Education messaging via e-News, social media, etc.

 

Travel And Tour World: Which countries do you focus on inviting tourists from? What are your target destinations for promoting MICE tourism?

Michelle Conway: Sedona focuses its international inbound travel trade sales efforts on countries that are aligned with Sedona’s focus on sustainability and have higher visitation to the US in the summer and winter seasons.  Counties include the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark), Switzerland, Japan, Germany, the U.K., and the Benelux countries.

We currently do not have programs that focus on promoting Sedona as a MICE destination internationally. Our programs target domestic MICE planners with focus on AZ and nearby states of CA, CO, TX, NV, etc.

Travel And Tour World: How many events have you been able to secure in the next few years? What COVID protocols are adopted by Sedona Chamber of Commerce And Tourism Bureau for hosting safe and successful events?

 

Michelle Conway: Over 30 meetings/events became definite for the next few years.

Sedona ‘Safe.Clean.Ready’ program was introduced during the pandemic.

The Sedona ‘Safe.Clean.Ready’ campaign promotes safe public behaviors for residents and visitors and a list of voluntary commitments from local businesses, who are then listed on the Sedona | Safe.Clean.Ready to help spread the word that Sedonans are working together for community safety and encourage our visitors to join us, the Chamber and the City have posted sandwich boards and variable road signs around town, and distributed posters and window stickers to participating businesses.

Our business commits to:

  • Encouraging physical distancing by posting signage to ensure proper separation in lines and common areas
  • Discouraging congregating, and limiting the number of employees and customers in various areas
  • Adopting and implementing enhanced sanitation procedures designed to combat the transmission of COVID-19
  • Promoting frequent and thorough hand washing and providing workers, customers and visitors a place to wash their hands.  If soap and running water are not immediately available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be provided.
  • Providing hand sanitizer in public areas is another measure we adopt as safety measure.

 

We ensure increasing regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, equipment and other elements of the work environment, modifying business hours where necessary to carry out thorough sanitation procedures, utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves and encouraging customers to do so, when appropriate.

Our employees are committed to:

  • Implementing touchless solutions and leaving doors ajar where practical
  • Encouraging respiratory etiquette, including covering up coughs and sneezes and properly disposing of tissues
  • Providing distinct entrance / exit where possible
  • Thinking creatively to limit staff physical contact with customers including online ordering curbside delivery, automated entrances and other practices
  • Taking reservations / appointments when possible to manage capacity
  • Creating transmission barriers where possible
  • Removing communal items (such as water cooler, magazines, and snack stations)
  • Establishing procedures aligned with CDC guidance should an employee or customer test positive for COVID-19
  • Educating both employees and customers about their shared responsibility to protect each other

 

My Employees Commit to:

 

  • Maintaining tele-commuting work schedule if possible
  • Promoting health screening measures for employees by taking and recording their temperature before coming to work or entering the workplace
  • Utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves when appropriate
  • Staying home if they are sick
  • Self-quarantine in according to Health Department guidance if they’ve had contact with a someone who tests or has tested positive for COVID-19 to self-quarantine
  • For as long as possible, allow flexible worksites and hours (including staggered shifts) to increase physical distancing among and between employees
  • Discouraging workers from using other employee’s phones, desks, offices or other equipment, when possible
  • Educating both employees and customers about their shared responsibility to protect each other

 

Handling money

 

  • Providing touchless solutions for handing money collection (such as apple pay, PayPal or Venmo), if possible.
  • Credit card docks should be sanitized after each transaction and passing of cash should be limited or restricted.
  • Do not use check presenters, only provide paper tickets.
  • Providing wipes available for each customer – to wipe down pens/keypads prior to using.
  • Wearing PPE when handling money and credit cards.

 

 

 

Travel And Tour World: Please enlighten us on the mode(s) of conveyance for the MICE organizers and common tourists visiting Sedona.

Michelle Conway:  Main gateway cities:

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (two-hour south of Sedona, over 1,200 flights a day)
  • Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (26-mile north of Sedona, direct flights from Phoenix, Denver, and Dallas/Fort Worth.)

Various transportation companies including Jet Limousines Sedona, Vitesse Worldwide AZ LLC
Zeus M Tours, Groome Transportation, etc. offer airport transfers and other transportation needs for MICE organizers and visitors.

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