Visit Buffalo Niagara’s board of directors today announced the appointment of Patrick J. Kaler to the position of President and CEO. Kaler is currently the President and CEO of Visit Loudoun, the tourism agency for Loudoun County, located just outside of Washington, D.C. He will assume his duties in Buffalo effective Jan. 1, 2014.
Kaler was selected from among a field of national and local prospects interested in the position. Boyden, a national executive search firm based in Washington, D.C., was engaged to conduct the search. Jonathan A. Dandes, President of Rich Baseball Operations, chaired the search committee, which included Dennis Murphy, chairman of the board and President of INNVest Lodging Services, Inc., Donald K. Boswell, President & CEO, Western New York Public Broadcasting Association (WNED), Cindy Abbott Letro, Visit Buffalo Niagara Board Member, Mary Roberts, Executive Director of the Martin House Restoration Corporation, Toni Vasquez, Visit Buffalo Niagara Board Member, Maria Whyte, Erie County Commissioner of Environment and Planning, and Leslie Zemsky, Vice President of Larkin Development.
“Throughout the search process, we felt our number-one challenge was finding the right person with the right skill set to take our organization to that next level,” said Dennis Murphy, chairman of Visit Buffalo Niagara. “It was imperative that we were both deliberate and thorough and, by taking that approach, Patrick emerged as that leader to take our region to even greater heights in the tourism industry.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Erie County is blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to tourism attractions. Visitors travel from all over the county and around the world for the outstanding art, architecture, history, theatre, culture, professional sports and parklands—bringing $1.5 billion in tourism spending annually to Erie County. As such, increasing tourism opportunities and getting a greater return on the many investments we have made in recent years is a key economic growth sector noted in my ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’ economic development plan. I congratulate Mr. Patrick Kaler on being retained as CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara at the conclusion of an exhaustive nationwide search. I greatly look forward to working with him as a partner going forward on implementing our shared vision of what this community can be.”
As only the second CEO in Visit Loudoun’s history, some of Kaler’s key accomplishments include: Implementation of a 5-year MOU with the County government for sustainable funding, including metric-based stewardship; establishment of the Loudoun County Sports and Events Commission, with an 86 percent conversion rate of sport leads to actual bookings, generating nearly 30,000 room nights annually; and development of an inaugural food and wine signature event, raising nearly $750,000 in corporate, public and in-kind contributions for production and promotion expenses.
“I look forward to working closely with the Visit Buffalo Niagara board of directors and staff, along with the tourism industry to bring more visitors, meetings and sporting events to the region,” said Kaler. “Tourism is a significant economic development opportunity in Erie County and Visit Buffalo Niagara has a critical role to play in promoting the region and securing visitation by the traveling public. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for me with Visit Buffalo Niagara.”
Prior to his role at Visit Loudoun, Kaler was the Senior Director of Travel Industry and Tourism Development for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, where he is credited with leading efforts to generate $15.4 billion in direct spending that supported 372,000 jobs. He has held several other senior level positions in the industry, including serving as Executive Director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and Executive Director for the Great Lakes of North America.
Kaler is a graduate of Western Illinois University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration. He earned his Master of Science from University of Illinois.