Photo by Jeff Hobson

In 2018, after an 11-year commitment to a Michigan-based convention and visitors bureau, and close to 14 years working at a similar bureau in Rochester, Minnesota, Brad Jones and his wife, Shelly, found themselves on the precipice of a looming adventure.

The couple’s children had left for college, and it was time to find a new place to call home. Personally, Jones said he wanted a place where he could kayak in the morning and snowshoe in the evening. Professionally, however, Jones was looking for what he calls an emerging market. 

“What I love most about the area is the thirst for growth,” Jones explained. “I don’t think you find that everywhere. (Bellevue has) planned for years for growth, and it’s finally happening; it’s coming to fruition.”

As executive director of Visit Bellevue, Jones has been at the helm of the city’s convention and visitors bureau for one year now, and he has wasted little time getting down to business. Upon arrival, Jones’ first objective was to collect data on the city, and learn everything he could about who visits Bellevue, and why.

Jones also wanted to immerse himself in the local hospitality market. 

“My wife and I are making our way around Bellevue, and we’re probably not even halfway done yet,” Jones said of the couple’s personal quest to dine at Bellevue’s many restaurants. “I think a lot of travelers are experiencing Bellevue through cuisine and food, and so we’re trying to do that on the personal side as well.”

Once the research was completed, Jones began plans for a massive rebranding effort for the organization. His goal is to turn the convention and visitors bureau into a full-service destination marketing and management organization, or DMMO. This process is still ongoing. 

“I think that, for years, the mentality in the hospitality industry here was to really survive on what the epicenter of Seattle was creating, and (Bellevue) was more of byproduct of that,” Jones said. “Now we’re looking to kind of carve out our own niche, differentiate, and really develop Bellevue as Bellevue … (this city) is ready for its own brand and for visitors to really understand why basing their trip out of here makes sense.”

Photos Courtesy Brad Jones

7:15 a.m. | My breakfast always is a Clif Bar and a cup of coffee on my commute to the office.

7:45 a.m. | I arrive a little early to prepare for the day, catch up on emails, and finalize a few projects and presentations.

9 a.m. | Introducing myself to a meeting planner and describing why Bellevue is an ideal convention and meeting destination.

10:30 a.m. | Meeting with Visit Bellevue’s Director of Visitor Experience, Alexis Beeton, and Director of Marketing + Communications, Justin Lynch, to finalize some exciting tours for visitors.

Noon | I have my monthly luncheon meeting with our advisory board, where I share some updates on the organization’s rebranding while we enjoy a meal prepared by the Meydenbauer Center.

1:30 p.m. | I have a conference call with colleagues from the Washington Tourism Alliance’s Advocacy Committee to discuss topics related to destination marketing organizations in Washington.

2:15 p.m. | I grab an afternoon tea and snack in our staff kitchen to prepare for the last few meetings of the day.

3 p.m. | Showing a media tour the progress on the Bellevue Light Rail extension that will connect Bellevue to Seattle by 2023.

4 p.m. | Meeting with Visit Bellevue’s Event Services Manager, Kristina Lucas, to recap how a previous convention went.

4:50 p.m. | Leaving work in my trusted Jeep that takes me to all my incredible Pacific Northwest adventures.

5:25 p.m. | After work, I take my dog, Yzerman, on an evening walk around Kirkland’s Juanita Bay.

7 p.m. | I love ending my days by taking my kayak out on beautiful Lake Washington.