Organizers & Founders
The DIY Tourism Marketing Workshop began in 2016 when Chris Cavanaugh of Magellan Strategy Group and Justin Belleme of JB Media Group realized there was a real need for actionable, affordable DIY tourism marketing training. They recognized that keeping up to date with digital marketing trends and changes was hard for tourism leaders and marketing professionals working for TDA’s, CVB’s, DMO’s, and other government organizations, as well as small business owners managing restaurants, attractions, events, and more. Together, with JB Media Institute lead instructor Sarah Benoit, they developed an event and educational curriculum they believe leads to better efficiency, more creativity, increased engagement, and more overall success for any region, company, or non-profit. Learn more about our founders below.
Director of Strategy, JB Media Group, Co-Founder, JB Media Institute
A serial entrepreneur, Justin founded his first business, AshevilleNow.com an online magazine about the Asheville area for visitors in 2003. He continued to work in tourism marketing, holding interim positions in online marketing with the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the City of Asheville in 2010 before launching the Internet marketing agency JB Media Group in 2011. As Director of Strategy, Justin oversees the strategic direction for projects in SEO, online advertising, social media, event marketing, email, and public relations for clients ranging from the Eastern Band of The Cherokee Indians to the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, Holistic Holiday at Sea and the Social Capital Markets conference. He and Sarah Benoit have also provided strategic consulting and training for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.
In 2012, Justin saw a need for training for marketing professionals and business owners in Internet marketing from industry professionals. He teamed up with Sarah Benoit to found the JB Media Institute shortly after that and under his vision and leadership, the program has trained more than 200 students in its first three years. Justin is also a frequent presenter on the more technical elements of Internet marketing including Google advertising for businesses and non-profits, SEO, and social media advertising. The recipient of the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, Justin is a strong advocate for entrepreneurship, He has served on the Board of Directors of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce since 2015 and is a previous Board Chair for the NC Stage Company.
In early 2019 Justin led the acquisition of RomanticAsheville.com, the most visited travel and vacation planning website for the Asheville area with over 5.5 million site visits in the last year.
Founder, Magellan Strategy Group
Prior to founding Magellan Strategy Group, Chris served as vice president of marketing for The Biltmore Company in Asheville, NC, the owner of Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home. For nearly 10 years he guided the company’s marketing planning, strategy, and execution. During his tenure, Biltmore doubled its annual revenue and became the most visited historic house attraction in the U.S. Cavanaugh also directed marketing for the Inn on Biltmore Estate, a four-star hotel on the property, and the Biltmore Estate Winery, the most visited winery in the nation.
Chris was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to the state’s travel and tourism board in 2003 and reappointed in 2010. He is past chairman of that board, and also past chairman of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (overseeing the work of the Asheville CVB) and Blue Ridge Mountain Host, a regional marketing association. Chris received the 2014 Southeast Tourism Society Shining Example Award and in 2015, the Travel Industry Association of North Carolina presented him with the Tourism Excellence Award for an Individual for outstanding contributions to the development of the travel industry in the state.
Co-Founder and Lead Trainer, JB Media Institute
As the Lead Instructor for the JB Media Institute, Sarah leverages her 13 years of experience as an online marketing, SEO, and social media strategist to create training content that get results. She is dedicated to making the field of Internet marketing accessible and understandable to business and marketing professionals with timely, relevant, and engaging classes and seminars. Her Internet marketing experience includes work in the travel and tourism field for websites such as visitcherokeenc.com, the visitor site for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and BlueRidgeHeritage.com, the official site for the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.
In 2013, she co-founded the JB Media Institute, an Internet marketing training program with Justin Belleme. Last year, Sarah was instrumental in adapting the original curriculum offered in Asheville three times each year to an online program accessible to students from around the world. She now teaches sessions in both the in-person and online Institute programs and oversees continuous curriculum updates to keep up with the ever changing world of Internet marketing. Sarah has presented to groups local and national. She was inducted into Asheville’s Forty under 40 in 2013. A graduate of Leadership Asheville, Sarah is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the local community.
“This event was so incredible. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into – if it would be strong or ‘just another conference’ where speakers talk conceptually about subjects and rarely provide any good takeaways. Every topic was approachable and digestible for the most novice attendee, but applicable and meaningful (and NEW) for the most experienced. The generosity of everyone (from speakers to attendees) to SHARE stories and knowledge and help each other discover new ideas and methods was refreshing and beautiful and truly enhanced the experience. Keep doing what you guys are doing — it’s working!”
— 2018 Workshop Attendee