Gary C. Sain
He followed an industry icon and, while guiding his organization through turbulent economic storms, he became a symbol of visionary leadership, too.
Gary C. Sain arrived at Visit Orlando (then called the Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau) in February 2007, taking over for the popular Bill Peeper, whose skills and clout effectively championed the multibillion-dollar industry for more than 20 years. The common thought was that Peeper would be especially difficult to replace. Sain proved otherwise.
In 2010, Sain was credited with Orlando reaching a record of 51.5 million visitors, the first U.S. destination to surpass the 50-million visitor milestone.
As a leading figure in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, he worked tirelessly, essentially became the community's brand ambassador. He frequently touted the benefits of travel as well as the industry's importance to the economy. Known in the industry as a marketing expert, he used that strength to develop several successful leisure advertising programs for Orlando. He spent his entire career in hospitality and was honored numerous times for his contributions.
Similarly, Sain's management style was dynamic, infectious and positive. Within Visit Orlando, always full of new ideas and challenges, he sought to inspire his colleagues to be the best. He also took personal interest in his employees, not as a boss, but as a leader looking to motivate them professionally and personally. Through his nurturing and guidance, Visit Orlando created diversity initiatives, culture-building projects and employee-wellness programs.
Indeed, Gary Sain leaves the region and his organization in great shape. And, equally a great person, he will be sorely missed.