Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Mark Holbrook to retire – Marion Star

After six years of service to the Marion community, the director of the Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mark Holbrook, announced his plans to retire at the end of January 2022.

Holbrook joined the Marion community in January 2016 when he began his role as director of the Marion CVB, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote the Marion area to potential visitors and help local businesses attract business from outside the county. He was previously working as the marketing director for the Ohio History Connection.

“When you come into a new community, you have a lot of ground to make up,” Holbrook said. “Everyone was just wonderful at making me feel welcome.”

His impact on Marion County throughout his term as director has been significant, not only financially, as he increased revenue generation of the visitor’s bureau on average 9.7 percent annually, but also relationally in the community.

“What I’m most proud of I’d have to say is rebuilding relationships in the community with civic organizations, business leaders and government officials,” said Holbrook.

A large part of Holbrook’s work to rebuild these community relationships has been the Cultural Corridor initiative, a project that has focused on what a revitalized downtown Marion would look like and has pursued the needed steps to make this vision a reality.

He also helped to found the Marion Community Coalition, a partnership between the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, Marion CanDo!, Downtown Marion Inc. and the Regional Planning commission.

Even though Holbrook has announced his retirement, he has not stopped pursuing meaningful work for the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Marion County.

The Marion County CVB was recently awarded a 2021 State Tourism and Achievement Recognition (STAR) Award from the Ohio Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus for a social media campaign from 2020, Marion’s Twelve Days of Christmas.

Andy Herf, the Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus, said Holbrook has done a fantastic job for the Marion community and that the award-winning social media campaign helped bring visitors to Marion even during the midst of the pandemic.

“Their social media campaign was really great this year. And the other thing I would say about Mark is, you know, it’s been a really really tough time the last 18 months in the travel and tourism industry,” said Herf. “I think communities like Marion just did a great job of getting their visitors back.”

Holbrook was able to use his background and expertise to in marketing to upgrade the bureau’s web presence and social media impact and increase the bureau’s marketing spending from 20.5 percent to 45.5 percent of the annual budget leading to such recognized success.

Additionally, the visitor’s center is currently in process of moving downtown from Marion-Mt Gilead Road, with construction already in progress on the new location scheduled to open Mid-October.

According to Holbrook, the bureau hopes this move will attract more local visitors, with many visitors to the current visitor’s center stopping in from Route 23 to look for somewhere else.

Currently Executive Director of the Palace Theatre, Bev Ford will take over the role of director from Holbrook of the Convention and Visitors Bureau after she leaves the Palace.

“Mark has done wonderful work for our community, and I look forward to continuing to promote all that makes Marion an amazing hometown and an intriguing tourist destination,” Ford said in the release.

As he steps away from his role as CVB Director, Holbrook is sad to not be involved or engaged with what is happening in Marion on a daily basis, but he is also looking forward to having more time to play golf, his favorite activity, and invest in community activities and ministries with his wife, Melissa.