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Boston’s Hospitality & Tourism Industry Responds to COVID-19: Interview with GBCVB President & CEO Martha Sheridan

By Bojura Angelova

We are starting a new blog series highlighting leaders from Boston’s hospitality and tourism industry and the ways they are responding to the impact of Coronavirus. The first installment is an in interview with the President & CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (GBCVB), Martha Sheridan. Martha Sheridan

What kind of initiatives is the GBCVB working on right now?

Our primary focus right now is keeping the tourism and hospitality community informed about how the COVID-19 crisis impacts their respective businesses. We disseminate a bi-weekly communication that contains updates on executive orders, industry resources and CVB programs designed specifically for the current situation. We recently held a Virtual Town Hall with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh with over 750 participants. This gave our partners the opportunity to hear directly from the mayor and query him and his senior leadership team on issues related to their specific business.

How are you remaining sensitive to the current environment while still planning ahead for the future?

Our sales and services team maintains contact with their clients from across the country, and the world, assisting them with questions related to the Boston market and where appropriate, rebooking and disseminating leads for future meetings. It is not a proactive sales effort, but rather a consultative approach to ensure that when the time is right these valuable customers know that we are ready when they are. We are also working on comprehensive sales and marketing plans to deploy at the appropriate time remaining sensitive to the fact that the safety and security of our visitors and residents will be tantamount to whatever programs we deploy.

How is the GBCVB supporting destination partners and meeting planners in these challenging times?

Beth Stehley, our Senior VP of Sales and Services, conducts regular meetings with senior sales and marketing leaders in the destination to listen to their concerns and provide them with timely answers to their questions. We remain in constant contact with our members to ensure that we have the most up-to-date and accurate information on their operations and convey that information to our customers where appropriate.

Are there any inspiring stories that have come out of Boston recently, despite the COVID-19 situation?

Every day we hear stories that reaffirm our love for Boston and for all of those that make it the extraordinary destination that it is. Right out of the gate our hotel partners wanted to show their appreciation for all the medical workers and first responders that have been dedicated to serving those afflicted by the crisis. In spite of the fact that many hotels are currently shuttered, and their own teams furloughed, nightly they light up their properties with signs of hope including hearts and inspirational words. We have captured this program in dozens for moving images captioned with the hashtag #LoveFromBoston. The response to this program has been heartwarming and has created an amazing sense of unity in the community.

In your opinion, what is the future outlook for Boston as a destination?

Like most other major meeting and visitor destinations, it will take us a while to recover from the blow this crisis has inflicted on the tourism industry. But we all know that Boston is resilient and through collaboration and a coordinated effort we will get through this together. The key to a successful recovery will be waiting until the time is right to begin welcoming guests again and working hand-in-hand with government leaders to ensure that proper protocols are in place.

What are you most excited about or looking forward to after the pandemic is over?

Strolling down Comm. Ave. (unmasked), dining at one of our amazing restaurants, taking in a great show and shopping in a charming neighborhood shop…all in one day!!!!

Boston is open for future bookings. If you need to change the dates of an event that hasn’t been accommodated by another city or are simply looking for a date in the future, don’t hesitate to reach out at

For regular updates on the MCCA’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, please go to