Name: Linsey Gallagher
Title: President and CEO
Company, city: Visit Napa Valley; Napa, California
First job: In high school and college I worked as a babysitter and a waitress; post-undergrad, I was a financial analyst at General Electric Capital Services.
Where to next: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, I am actually enjoying “playing” tourist here in Napa Valley and taking advantage of all our beautiful valley has to offer. Visit Napa Valley and Napa Valley Vintners partnered to encourage everyone in the Napa Valley community to rediscover their own backyard and support local businesses, part of our “Napa Valley Spirit” campaign. Napa Valley hospitality-related businesses, including hotels, wineries, restaurants and retailers, created an “Explore Your Backyard” offer targeted to Napa County residents to inspire the community to dine, sip, shop and stay here and support the more than 60,000 people who work in the wine and tourism industries.
A LITTLE BIT MORE
What actor or actress would play you in a movie of your life?
Jennifer Garner — rural upbringing, solid but not too serious, kind, a working mom
What would you be doing professionally if you weren’t in your current industry?
I feel fortunate to work in the tourism and wine industries; however, I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to try my hand as a producer at Today or another show.
What is your favorite book, movie or television show?
I have been a TV series binge watcher all my life (long before Netflix!). My more recent favorites include Downton Abbey, Big Little Lies, Friday Night Lights, Nashville and Call the Midwife.
What historical figure, dead or alive, would you love to have dinner with?
What is your most recent project, and what was the inspiration behind it?
My most pressing and immediate priority is helping our tourism industry and local government partners in Napa Valley weather the challenge of a global pandemic. Napa Valley is committed to the highest safety standards by going above and beyond mandated requirements in order to protect the health and welfare of employees, guests and our community while providing world-class hospitality. Collaboration, partnership, transparency and authenticity are paramount for future success.
What is your favorite aspect of the job?
I love the intersection of wine and tourism. I am thankful to be entrusted with the responsibility to steward the iconic and aspirational Napa Valley brand and lifestyle on the world stage. As the official destination management organization, our vision is to elevate Napa Valley as the world’s premier wine country experience, and our mission is to promote, protect and enhance the destination.
What’s the biggest business risk you’ve ever taken?
Changing industries, multiple times — from finance to marketing and from wine to tourism
Who is someone you admire professionally in the travel industry?
Caroline Beteta, president and CEO, Visit California
AS A TRAVELER
Tell us about a travel nightmare: A sightseeing daytrip excursion to Angel Falls in Venezuela in a small plane turned into an unexpected multiday adventure in El Pauji, a remote jungle settlement at the edge of Gran Sabana, on the border of Brazil.
Share a comical travel experience: While working at the California Wine Institute I traveled to more than 25 countries promoting California wine worldwide. On one of many memorable trips to China, I traveled with renowned wine writer and educator Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible. We were doing a 10-day California wines tour of at least eight cities, and we were exhausted. We rewarded ourselves with a Chinese foot massage treatment in most cities, and each was hilarious and unique while also usually relaxing.
What is your preferred method of travel — planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships — and why? All of the above, in normal times. However, these days I am fortunate to live in Napa Valley and ride my bicycle on our Napa Valley Vine Trail through our beautiful vineyards while we wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to subside. The 47-mile, safe and scenic walking and biking trail system connects the entire Napa Valley, physically, artistically and culturally — perfect for social distancing.
What has been the best example of customer service you’ve experienced during your travels? Traveling internationally for 10 years as vice president of international marketing for the California Wine Institute, I experienced many instances of customer service not meeting expectations. We produced wine experiences and events in challenging environments such as China, Russia and Cuba, as well as more mainstream but often challenging venues in Canada, Japan, Mexico and the U.K. I always love coming back to Napa Valley and our world-class hospitality and wines. We offer the best hospitality of any wine region in the world — warm and welcoming, laid-back luxury, casual elegance and iconic lifestyle.
I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.
I recently dined at Irwin’s in Philadelphia. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the Bok Building, a former school turned collective of small businesses, non-profits, artist workshops, a bar and restaurant. I previously visited Bok for the bar and yoga classes, and I was excited to experience the restaurant.
GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
The Global Business Travel Association, the world’s largest business travel and meetings trade organization, recently released a statement from GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang regarding the Biden administration’s recent announcement that the U.S. travel ban will be relaxed in November for vaccinated travelers from 26 Schengen countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha. As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
The Rittenhouse has long stood out as one of Philadelphia’s finest hotels, centrally located in one of the city’s poshest neighborhoods. Needless to say, I knew I was in for an afternoon of luxurious pampering when I hopped in my car and headed down I-95 from my suburban home to the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. As I drove through the seemingly endless roadwork on the highway, I realized just how long it had been since I’d driven this once-familiar route into the city as a result of the pandemic. Of course I was eager for the relaxation and bliss that was in my future, but it was also a welcome feeling to head back into Philadelphia for a moment of normalcy.