President and chief executive officer of Sonoma County tourism, Claudia Vecchio is an industry veteran with more than 30 years experience and a zest for travel that lives in her DNA. “From an early age, I heard tales of my grandparents traveling to far away countries,” she says. Born and raised in the Midwest, she eventually went on to Nevada where she was director of the state’s tourism and cultural affairs department, launching the statewide brand for Nevada. Vecchio currently lives in Cloverdale where she is spending time visiting local wineries and exploring the many wonders Sonoma County has to offer.
What got you interested in a career in tourism?
I happened on the travel marketing business while working at a public relations firm in New York City, managing consumer brand campaigns and developing a global branch launch for a cruise line. I realized I could combine my technical skills of marketing with my passion for travel.
What’s your favorite activity or thing to do in Sonoma County?
My favorite activity is finding my favorite activity. As a new resident, I’m enjoying the adventure of discovering them all.
How can Sonoma County regain visitors after the fire?
In January, the annual fall-winter campaign began, and we’ve seen great interest across the country and around the world from consumers, media, meeting planners and other travel professionals. The Sonoma County Tourism board allocated additional funds to market the area following the fires—used for additional print and digital advertising. We continue working to correct misperceptions and generate positive perception, stories and social media conversations. Sonoma County has loyal fans across the country and around the world. Based on destinations experiencing similar situations, we believe they will return.
How many American states have you visited in your lifetime? Which was your favorite?
The only state I have yet to visit is Alaska. I’m still a big fan of Nevada, but love North Carolina, parts of Minnesota and Arizona and the incredibly vibrant cities of New Orleans, New York and Chicago.
Do you have a New Year’s resolution?
Get healthier, exercise more and get to know Sonoma County.
What books are you currently reading?
I read books for enjoyment and have a few authors I read a lot—Daniel Silva, John Grisham, David Baldacci and Janet Evanovich.
What’s one of your greatest achievements?
The launch of the statewide brand for Nevada—“Nevada: Don’t Fence Me In.” It was imperative that we create a brand that synergistically fit with Las Vegas, yet also conveyed the maverick spirit, the freedom to do and be whatever you want, and the nonconformist nature of Nevadans and her visitors.
If you were given $100,000 to celebrate someone or something, who or what would you celebrate?
I’d celebrate my mother who passed away in 2016. She’d want me to give the funds to an animal rescue, and I’d gladly oblige.
If you could hang a motto in every home, what would it say?
If you don’t live it, it won’t come out in your horn. (Charlie Parker)
What are the best and worst sounds in the world?
The best sound is a child’s laughter. The worst sound is a child’s cry.
What’s your favorite style of music and how often do you listen?
Jazz. I dabble with playing jazz piano, and listen to great jazz recordings in my house and car, but need to get to live music venues more often.
Do you have a collection?
I have collected a number of spirit dolls and masks from my travels. I’m fascinated by the way different cultures express their spiritual beliefs through art.
If you could turn into any animal at will, which one would you select?
I’d turn into a bluenose dolphin. They’re smart and seem to be having a (mostly) joyful and carefree life.
What do you consider your best quality?
I’m a lifelong learner. Great ideas and insights can come from anyone and anywhere, and I’m always on the lookout for input that can enhance my understanding of people, places and how things work. Life is a short, brilliant adventure, and I hope to take as much in as I can.
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