RENO — Charles Harris, CDME, CTA, has spent his entire career since college in Anaheim — including a stint at its most famous institution, Disneyland — and in talking to him, it’s clear the city has earned a special place in his heart. “I learned from the best of them,” said Harris, the Chief Marketing Officer & Executive Vice President Public Affairs at Visit Anaheim, referring to his boss of the past seven years, President and CEO Jay Burress.
Soon, Harris will close one chapter and open another, heading north to the base of the Sierras in Nevada, where he will take the helm as President & CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority on November 16.
“I think Reno-Sparks and Lake Tahoe is a phenomenal destination,” he told Trade Show Executive, “a combination of gaming and the natural outdoors with a growing business and technology base. What a great place to grow my career and work with this team, who I’ve already gotten such good feedback about from people in the industry.”
In addition to his position at Visit Anaheim, Harris also has experience as the Vice Chair of the Visit California Brand & Content Committee and Co-Marketing Chair of the Orange County Visitor Authority. His other roles include sitting on the Anaheim Transportation Network’s Board of Directors and Cal Travel’s Government Relations Committee.
He was one of three finalists for the RSCVA’s CEO position, alongside its own Jennifer Cunningham and Choose Chicago Chief Operating Officer Marc Anderson.
Harris’s first steps will be to learn the destination, its facilities, the community and his new clients, the meeting planners — and what a challenging time in which to do that. The good news is that the Reno-Sparks Convention Center is once again hosting live events within the COVID-19 guidelines set by the local government.
Nonetheless, he fully believes in the power of F2F meetings and that they will return over time. “Live meetings will always be important, and there’s clearly a pent-up demand already to meet and travel. But it just has to be done safely.”
Reach Charles Harris at (714) 765-2800 or firstname.lastname@example.org (until November 6).