Changing Roles: Kindra Fry, President and CEO of Bryan College Station and Chairman of NASC, Shares Insights
18 Apr, 2018By: Mary Helen Sprecher
If the work of Kindra Fry right now could be summed up in a few words, it might be this: expanded responsibilities.
As Fry settles into her role of president and CEO of Experience Bryan College Station, which has the goal of marketing and promoting the Aggieland area as a premier destination, she is simultaneously moving away from a job she helped create and define and taking on another one, much larger in scope.
“I started out as the director of sports 14 years ago,” she notes, “so the focus of my role for a long time was specific to the sports market and promoting Bryan College Station as a premier sports destination.”
At the time, the organization was known as Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau. As director of sports, Kindra was able to guide the development of BCS as a destination event owners and rights holders knew and sought out. Using her background with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and her corresponding relationships with the myriad sports events that came to Olathe, Kansas, she was able to leverage her knowledge and contacts to help grow the reputation of her newfound HQ of Bryan College Station and its facilities into a premier destination.
She retains the title of executive director of Bryan College Station Sports + Events but as the organization grows and hires new key personnel in marketing and sales, she knows there is a definite growth trajectory.
“You have to learn to let go of what you’ve known and been doing all along, and sometimes, that’s really difficult to do.”
Experience Bryan College Station, she notes, is the reinvention of the CVB. It’s focus is not just on sports, leisure tourism as well as the meetings and conventions market, but also marketing the destination as a whole – something she is also interested in building.
“This has really opened up a broader perspective,” she reflects. At the moment, the organization’s convention sales are focused on state and regional gatherings (a change from sports, which BCS hosts on a national and even international scale.) The area, with its central location, is a perfect fit for meetings for organizations housed in the Austin area, for example, she notes – although she certainly sees opportunity to expand on this market regionally and outside of the state.
“I think we have potential for major growth in this market. We’re focused on developing this as well.”
But Bryan College Station is not the only place her responsibilities are growing and changing – and not the only organization undergoing an evolution and rebranding.
Next week, she’ll be on the podium as the chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions during its annual Symposium, to be held in Minneapolis. That position, too, has involved a climb through a steadily increasing workload.
She began as a volunteer on the Mentoring Committee and added the Symposium Committee (now the Events Committee, since NASC has been enlarging upon its offering to members, creating events such as the Women’s Summit, 4S Summit and Chief Executive Summit, as well as an increasing number of webinars and more). In addition, the association continues to develop its certification program and to make it relevant to executives in multiple sectors and at multiple stages of their careers.
Kindra acknowledges the organization may be facing even more seismic shifts. Among them is a name change – something that is to be voted upon during the Symposium. The proposed new organizational name is American Sports Events and Tourism Society, something that will take in the continuing evolution of the industry.
“We’re no longer just a membership of sports commissions,” she points out. “If you look at our current membership, sports commissions still make up much of it; however, there are many more organizations that are members like convention & visitors bureaus as well as parks and rec departments, universities, event owners, rights holders and more. If we are going to be the resource for this industry, we have to address all of them.”
And that, she adds, means the association is strengthening its relationships across all sectors.
“I think the key for this upcoming year is going to be working on partnerships with our friends in other tourism-related industry organizations like Destinations International and Meeting Professionals International. We’ll be crossing over into other areas of travel and tourism and that’s going to be a big factor in continuing to grow this organization.”
It is the ‘cross-pollination’ of the groups, she notes, that will strengthen everyone. However, she cautions, the rebranding of the association – and its subsequent placement in a wider sector of the industry – will be a process and will not happen overnight.
“You can’t just jump in and expect it to be done immediately. What we are going to be building are going to be key relationships and partnerships so that all of our members can benefit from them. We’re so much stronger together.”