Gavin Landry of A True 'Hometown Hero'
Gavin Landry, the president of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau (SCTB) for nine years, and past president of the New York State Convention and Visitor Bureaus Association recently accepted the position of Senior Vice President of the New York Racing Association (NYRA). As president of the SCTB, Gavin developed a Hometown Hero program to recognize those past or current residents of Saratoga county who brought their group events to Saratoga Springs.
Just prior to his announcement that he had accepted the NYRA position, Saratoga.com interviewed Gavin about the SCTB, Saratoga Springs and his passion for the area. It was our privilege to work closely with Gavin over the past few years -- he is a true Hometown Hero of Saratoga Springs!
An Interview With Gavin Landry - President of Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau
1. Why do you think Saratoga is a great venue for meetings and groups?
Saratoga is beautiful all year long. In the heart of winter are Dickens Village-like aspects come forward and people tend to appreciate the little things like a hot bowl of soup at Chowderfest. In the Spring, there is anticipation in the air and each time the sun shines you can literally feel people's spirits rising with it. When Summer arrives, there is a sense, sort of like a low hum, that is in the air. This area just bristles with activity. In the Fall, the leaf peepers and conference-goers are out in force and it too is a very special time in Saratoga.
2. How does SCTB affect the community?
The Bureau plays a role in our community as a partner to its members in an effort to positively impact the area's economy. We work as a sister organization to the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation as a triumvirate of not-for-profits whose primary responsibility is economic development in our own areas of accountability. The Chamber does all the traditional business activities and also handles the consumer tourism promotion programs; SEDC creates jobs, and we perform all the outreach programs for group business for our area. It works pretty well I think. In addition, we work very closely with the area hotels, The Saratoga Springs City Center, our attractions community, state and local government, and many others toward that end.
Farewell to Gavin Landry
Hundreds of well wishers packed the foyer and dining room of the Saratoga National Golf Course to bid farewell to Gavin Landry on the evening of June 13, 2007. The hilarious spoof on Carly Simon's "Your So Vain" brought most of the audience to tears of laughter as Steve "Sully" Sullivan, owner of Longfellow's sung the chorus "Your So Vain, you probably even Googled Your own name…", this was only topped by Gavin's own tearful and poignant good bye.
3. Why should a business join the SCTB?
A business should join the Bureau for two reasons: first, it's cheap! Or should I say inexpensive! Our membership is more a sign of support for our efforts than a main funding source for the Bureau. Second, if you know anyone who depends upon the area's tourism industry for their employment; perhaps a loved one, a friend, or a person with whom you do business; then your support of the Bureau as a member is supporting them. Many of our members benefit directly from the tourism industry, but there are many others who join us literally to support our efforts because they love Saratoga, and they want Saratoga to continue to be successful.
4. How has Saratoga changed in the last decade?
Saratoga has quite obviously grown a great deal in the past ten years. The high demand for downtown residential housing is reflective of the fact that Saratoga offers an excellent quality of life. We have also seen our business demand patterns change a great deal as well. When I came here in 1995, we used to target any group that came in any months other than the summer. Now we are doing extremely well in our "shoulder seasons" so we have very specific targets for business growth. Now we need Sunday through Wednesday business and especially January and February group business.
5. What do you personally love about Saratoga Springs ?
I personally love walking down the street in Saratoga and seeing people walking with mom, dad, the stroller, the dog, ice cream in hand, shopping bag in hand, US Flag flying with flowers blooming and benches for people to sit. This is just the best place to work and live. I also like the dignity that people have for one another in our town. I am always amazed by how many "hellos" I get from strangers in Saratoga and that when a horn honks it is typically someone saying hello as opposed to someone saying get the hell out of my way! I am not trying to be too Pollyanna about this, but just notice it the next time you go out of town.
6. What is your passion?
I have alot of passions. From a business perspective, I passionately believe that the Saratoga Springs City Center must be expanded to preserve the future success of Saratoga for our kids and our kid's kids. On a personal level, I love horse racing, playing tournament bridge, spending time with my wife, Darlene, enjoying each day and practicing "abundant gratitude" for each day because I truly do love my job and the people that I am so fortunate to work with.
7. If you could travel anywhere in the world for a month, where would you go and why?
I have always wanted to go to Italy and hope to do so someday. I mean what is there not to like about a place with so much history and some of the greatest food and wine in the world with a society that embraces American visitors?
8. What is your favorite "place" in Saratoga and why?
By far Saratoga Racecourse is my favorite place in Saratoga. I have memories of the track dating back to when I was 7 years old and I just get a certain feeling when I am there. I remember when Affirmed head-bobbed Alydar (again) at Saratoga, when Onion beat Secretariat, and when as a kid I used to walk along and pick up discarded tickets on the ground hoping to find a winner. We are very lucky to have such a place in our back yard.
9. Finish this sentence: "Saratoga is..."
Saratoga is amazing! The more Saratoga changes, the more the good people of this area protect and preserve its character and its assets. Groups like Saratoga PLAN, the Preservation Foundation, and many others are truly unsung heroes that deserve far greater recognition for what they do. People that volunteer for local boards such as planning, design review, and others give up their personal time for all of our good. That is who deserves the credit.
10. What is the best part about your job? Worst?
The best part of my job is seeing others become successful. That is truly what we are here to do in a nutshell. The worst part may be the fact that I have gained a few pounds in the past eleven years (a fact that Joe Dalton constantly reminds me) from going to various food-related functions and not passing on the passed hors douevres! But I am going to try to turn that around this year.