Laura Mandala, CEO
Laura Mandala has been helping the tourism industry unlock, decode and harness the power of travel data and trends for nearly two decades.
Appointed by the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary to serve on the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, Laura was responsible for providing input on the country’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy. Mandala has worked extensively with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and has conducted national studies for resorts, hotels, shopping malls, and destinations, as well as multi-country brand equity and consumer tracking studies in over 25 international markets.
Her career includes tenure at the U.S. Travel Association where she served as Vice President of Research. Mandala also worked over a span of 15 years as a consultant with Marriott International, where she gained extensive expertise in brand tracking, brand equity, and brand identity research, as well as global product and service preferences, portfolio analysis, loyalty program membership, suite design and decor, and website usability. Named one of the 14 Most Influential Women in Group Travel,
Mandala’s firm has pioneered the “firsts” of many niche studies in the industry and offers extensive knowledge of several growing demographics and trends, including U.S. Hispanic travelers, wine and culinary tourism, Gay and Lesbian travelers, The International Shopping Traveler, Travelers from Growth and Emerging Markets, and the African American Traveler. In 2014 she was named one of the 14 Most Influential Women in Group Travel.
Based in Alexandria, Va., Mandala speaks regularly at tourism industry conferences, including the UNWTO World Forum on Food Tourism, and is a trusted and popular resource for journalists. Her work has been cited in The New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal MarketWatch, USA Today, and others. Mandala has also held a number of teaching appointments including an adjunct professorship at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, the George Washington School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, as well as a stint at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.
She is founder of Women in Travel and Tourism International, an organization committed to the promotion, support, and advocacy for women’s leadership in the travel industry. Laura is a former candidate for State Delegate in Virginia’s 45th District and has served two Virginia Governor’s on the State Council on Women.
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Regina Binder, Director of Research
As director of research for Mandala Research, LLC, Regina Binder brings more than 25 years of experience in domestic and international tourism, historic preservation, visitor planning and destination development. She has worked with tourism and cultural ministries, NGOs, regional and federal authorities, CVBs and destinations to help achieve their goals.
Ms. Binder brings her proprietary methods of qualitative analysis, community outreach, and placed-based branding to the work of Mandala Research. Her connective visioning and engagement processes are designed to align the interests of the diverse stakeholder groups involved in tourism, preservation and planning.
Regina is passionate about mitigating visitor impact while increasing the social and economic benefits from tourism to local communities. Her ‘sense of place’ methodology helps create destinations that enhance the quality of life for residents and provide great visitor experiences. She is an advisor to the United Nations, several multi-lateral funding agencies including IADB and the IMF, global real estate developers and all levels of government.
Ms. Binder serves as senior research fellow and advisor on sustainable tourism to The Kenan Institute’s Center for Competitive Economies (University North Carolina-Chapel Hill.) In 1998, she received the ‘Save America’s Treasures Award’ from Hillary Clinton for her preservation of The Nantucket United Methodist Church (1822). In 1999 she won the award for Outstanding Tourism Destination from British Airways for her work on The Rheged Discovery Center in England. In 2010, she was invited by the World Bank to present her approach to reusing heritage assets to catalyze economic and social growth.
Regina Binder understands how communities can create both a vibrant economic center while preserving the integrity of a region’s culture and heritage. She has been integral to both the preservation and development of Cape Code and Provincetown, MA. Her many contributions include both creating and Chairing the Provincetown Historic District, Chairing the master planning board and zoning revision committee, and serving as a Director of the Public Pier Corporation .
Her other work on the Cape includes: consulting to the Lower Cape Community Development Corporation, working on preservation projects with the Cape Cod National Seashore , serving on the advisory committee to the National Park Service for the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District, and serving as a member of the Provincetown Community Compact Board of Directors.
Regina Binder’s career has also taken her around the world. She worked on heritage sites such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Markets of Trajan (100 AD) in Rome, and has developed sustainable tourism plans and cultural routes in Northern Perú and Galicia in Spain. Binder also spent five years as consultant in cultural resources to the National Park Service.
She is a regular speaker at national and international sustainable tourism and cultural heritage conferences, including those sponsored by ICOMOS and the World Bank.
Binder holds a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University in the City of New York, and a BA in Art History from Vassar College.
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Jessica (Jess) McLaughlin
Jessica (Jess) McLaughlin has more than 15 years of consulting experience of consulting experience in strategic planning, communications and advertising, and marketing research. Jess has broad experience in both qualitative and quantitative research. Since 2000, Jess assisted with in person interviews, data analysis and report writing for a variety of Mandala Research research studies. She particularly enjoys conducting interviews with travelers and creating presentation visuals to illustrate research findings.
She has expertise in qualitative methodologies that uncover the underlying emotional drivers behind consumer and business decision making, and is a Cambridge-trained focus group moderator. Her background includes several years at major Los Angeles advertising agencies Grey Advertising and Dailey & Associates, where she helped to refine the role of the Account Planner as the “voice of the consumer” within the agency. She also trained with the author of “Marketing to the Mind” and “Motigraphics” to learn how the hierarchy of motives applies to consumer behavior.
Ms. McLaughlin graduated with a degree in Advertising from the School of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a four-year starter on the women’s soccer team.