A chance to renew connections among stakeholders working within the four counties of the Grand Lake Region is the goal 2016 Grand Lake Association banquet.

The event, set for Monday, Dec. 5, will feature Leah Chandler, chief marketing officer for the Branson Convention and Visitor Bureau. chandler, who has more than 14 years of experience in branding, advertising and marketing, will discuss her experience working within the tourism and hospitality industry.

"It's a been a few years since we've had this type of banquet," explained Amanda Davis, with the GLA board of directors. "This is a way to get everybody back, working together.

"It's healthy for us, as an industry to gather at a banquet, to get together and network throughout the region."

Davis said using the theme, "reconnection," board members hope the event - which includes a cocktail hour - will allow GLA partners to network, exchange ideas and to find ways to promote the region with success.

Davis said the banquet will also celebrate some of the accomplishments of member businesses and organizations, including the revamped PelicanFest in Grove, the success of Wolf Creek park for fishing tournaments, the pumpkin chunking event in Vinita, and more. 

"We are a stronger market when we stick together," Davis said. "This is a time to reconnect. Before we know it, we'll look up, it's 2017 and we'll need to get a game plan together for how we are going to do things."

Connections, teamwork

Davis said board members chose to bring Chambers as the keynote speaker to discuss some of the success she's had in promoting networking and partnership within the Branson region.

Davis hopes her knowledge will inspire the GLA partners within Delaware, Ottawa, Craig and Mayes counties to work together in the coming months and year.

"We are stronger as a team," Davis said. "I hope she takes her message to encourage all of us.

"Branson sees the same ups and downs [within the tourism marketplace]. I hope she gives us a little vision and encouragement on how important it is for all of us to be at the same table and on the same page."

About Chandler

Chandler said she plans to focus her message on partnership and regionalism, drawing a great deal from her last three years of experience, as the southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas region began to put aside geographic boundaries in order to capture the changing tourism marketplace.

Chandler said she, and others in the industry, have discovered that regionalism holds the key to success for the area which includes Springfield and Branson, Missouri, and Eureka Springs, Bentonville and Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

Branding opportunities and partnerships, among the various chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus, and other organizations have provided a chance to expand the region's outreach, as well as economic and tourism development.

Chandler said the various groups now work together to "anticipate what is coming," rather than simply react to what happens. 

In one regional partnership, Chandler said the Branson Convention and Visitor's Bureau and its counterpart in Springfield, have joined together to market both towns under the "Ozark Mountain Region" label. 

This, she said, allows the organizations to promote the assets of both regions, in order to attract business and tourism dollars. 

The partnership, she said, extends beyond philosophical ideas. It also includes strategic planning and the combining of budgets for marketing dollars. 

She said working with entities within Eureka Springs, Bentonville and Fayetteville, have also allowed the region to promote the unique cultural experiences which are available - including the top art museum in the country, as well other things which makes the region as a whole unique.

"We're stronger together," Chandler said. "We're all finally learning to blur the geographical boundaries. Traveling is based upon activities or the party's demographics and interests. 

Chandler joined the Branson Convention and Visitor Bureau as its chief marketing officer in May 2013. Prior to that move, she worked within the tourism/travel industry at an ad agency managing client specific branding. 

She sees the role of a CVB as an umbrella organization, which promotes the area as a whole, and brings visitors to the region to showcase what partner organizations and businesses offer. 


If You Go

The cocktail hour for the 2016 Grand Lake Association banquet will begin at 6 p.m., on Monday, Dec. 5, with the dinner at 7 p.m., at the Wyandotte Casino, Wyandotte.

Tickets are $35 per person or $250 for a table of eight. A limited number of seats remain.

For more information, or to make a reservation, persons interested are encouraged to call 918-786-2289 on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to see what space remains.