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Tough Times Need Strong Leaders

Butch Spyridon is juggling critical tasks for the Nashville CVB that go beyond coronavirus-related issues.

While everyone in the meetings and hospitality industry has at least some damage control to do in light of the coronavirus pandemic, some jobs have a harder road to travel than others. One of the more difficult jobs right now belongs to Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau since 1991.

As the face of the Music City’s travel and hospitality industry, Spyridon’s team has crises to handle that come not only from coronavirus fallout—empty hotels, bars, and restaurants and the resulting lost revenue and jobs—but also a tornado that ripped through parts of the city in mid-March, causing significant damage a few miles outside the central business district. These two natural disasters have taken not just a business toll on the city, but a human toll as well, and Spyridon must rally his team—from remote locations because of citywide “stay at home” orders—to address whichever of the city’s needs that they can.

In this Q&A conducted late last week in the Nashville Ledger, Spyridon discusses managing relief funds for hospitality job losses, working with federal disaster-relief officials, and maintaining the city’s brand reputation among potential visitors and convention planners. As interesting as it might seem to be the head of a CVB, times like these can make most of us think twice about wanting the job.

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