Laura Mandala, Managing Director
Laura Mandala has been helping the tourism industry unlock, decode and harness the power of travel data and trends for nearly two decades. As the head of Mandala Research, one of the leading travel and tourism research firms in the world, she spends considerable time evaluating important emerging developments and that help destinations and travel companies make the right decisions to attract the right travelers.
Recently appointed by U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Bryson to serve on the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, Laura has been 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.
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.
Based in Alexandria, Va., Mandala speaks regularly at tourism industry conferences and is a trusted and popular resource for journalists. She’s 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.
Mandala received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from DePaul University and is receiving her PhD from Northwestern University.
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.
Over the past twenty years, Sarah has provided market research and strategic consulting services to Fortune 500 companies as well as many small and medium sized companies and organizations. Her focus includes travel and tourism, health care/pharmaceutical/biotech, energy, financial, non-profit, energy and technology. She has considerable expertise designing and conducting global research.
Sarah has directed research for a wide range of clients including Marriott International, the Fairbanks (AK) Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Fairbanks Economic Development Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Mizuho Institute in Japan. She was also one of the original team members who pioneered the Alaska Visitors Statistics Program, a multi-year study focusing on domestic and international visitors to Alaska.
Prior to consulting with Mandala Research, Sarah worked at AARP as a Researcher and Strategist. She was a key member of Harris Interactive's Brand & Strategy Consultancy Practice and worked for Harris Interactive (formerly WirthlinWorldwide) for ten years. She had oversight responsibility for all client service related activities as well as all research and strategy. She is an experienced moderator and executive interviewer.
Her professional expertise includes domestic and global branding and positioning, corporate reputation, customer satisfaction, new product development, communications and marketing assessments and public policy research and strategy often among hard to reach audiences (senior government officials, medical practitioners, board members, community leaders, and C-Suite Executives).
She is currently a member of Women in Travel and Tourism International, Innovations in Women’s Health, Health Care MR Professionals, MR Global Alliance, Mature Markets Experts, Brand 3.0 and Non-Profit Networks. Sarah received her M.Sc. in Health Sciences from the University of British Columbia, and a B.A. in Sociology from West Virginia University.
Nicole Rychtanek - Director, Sales and Marketing
Nicole brings a brilliant mix passion and analytics to the job of supporting our mission: providing critical insights to move our clients' business forward. Her keen sense of marketing and business acumen sense means our research is always focused on client needs. And, representing us at conferences around the globe, she is making sure our team is on top of key trends and developments. Nicole's background of sales, graphic design, and customer service makes her the perfect addition to a team dedicated to market research excellence.