Chicago, IL – Donald Welsh has been chosen as the new president and CEO of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) and will begin his new job in February, the CCTB announced January 4. Welsh is currently CEO of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (ICVA) and spent five years as CEO of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Welsh, 54, replaced Tim Roby, who joined Starwood Hotels in December after leading the CCTB for four years. Roby’s tenure culminated with the high-profile overhaul of the entrenched union work rules at McCormick Place aimed at cutting exhibitor costs and heading off the potential defection of additional major trade shows to rival cities.
“Don is the right person to join our team and help us further leverage the legislative reforms and continue the positive momentum for what promises to be a successful future for our collective industry,” said Jim Reilly, trustee of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Welsh’s base salary will be $390,000 a year, an increase of 50% over what Roby earned. Welsh will also earn an additional $78,000 in bonuses if he achieves performance objectives.
While in Indianapolis, Welsh oversaw the expansion of the city’s convention center and the opening of a new JW Marriott hotel and the Lucas Oil Stadium. The CCTB said that while in Seattle, Welsh re-branded the convention and visitors bureau and maintained a downtown hotel occupancy rate of 75%.
“We are ready to hit the ground running and drive more economic growth for Chicago and Illinois, and more value for our customers,” said Welsh.
A spokesman for the ICVA told Trade Show Executive that the bureau did not immediately name a successor but would launch a nationwide search for a new CEO next week.