From Sales & Project Manager to Chief Operating Officer, Rolando Aedo has been working for the Greater Miami CVB for a staggering 27 years and for many he is today the face of the CVB. It is therefore no surprise that reporter Matthew Arrojas from the South Florida Business Journal recently dedicated a profile to the man behind the smart suit and funky shades. Here it is...
Birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia
Current position: COO, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
Previous position: Chief marketing officer, GMCVB
Education: A.A., Miami Dade College; B.S., criminal justice, Florida International University; MBA, international business, University of Miami
Boards: Education Fund of Miami-Dade County, Miami Bayside Foundation, Miami Dade College Alumni Council, Destinations International Foundation
Rolando Aedo began working at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau to help Miami-Dade County recover from Hurricane Andrew. More than 27 years later, his sights are still set on aiding the county’s recovery, but this time from the Covid-19 pandemic. The health crisis resulted in historic revenue losses for many hospitality businesses. But the CVB aims to return Miami to the forefront, and attract tourists and business travellers.
Aedo has said throughout the recovery that he’ll continue to place a premium on building Miami-Dade County as a destination that works for both visitors and residents. A long-time resident himself, he’s spearheaded initiatives to involve those in the community in major marketing campaigns, and worked to spotlight oft-forgotten neighbourhoods.
How far back do your hospitality roots go? I grew up in Miami, and my grandmother – who was from Cuba – worked in the Doral Hotel on Miami Beach. She was a housekeeper, and I remember spending my summers running around the hotel. As a little kid, that was the most amazing experience. On the other hand, my dad was a valet parker at the Everglades Hotel in downtown Miami. I’m a product of this community and this industry.
What were you doing before you joined the CVB? The first thing I studied was engineering. I soon found out that, as much as I loved it, I wasn’t adept at math. I was thinking of going to law school, so I studied criminal justice, but I eventually did not go to law school. I did go back and get my MBA in international business at UM. Back then, I was writing very basic code to do data-based marketing. Almost as a hobby, I was playing around with some basic programming. And I then started helping out some friends who had small businesses do data-based marketing to do mailing lists. And that eventually led me to an early career working in real estate development and investment.
What brought you to the CVB? Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The Convention & Visitors Bureau had applied for a federal grant from the Economic Development Administration and, when they received the grant about a year-and-a-half later, they needed some consultants and project managers to help them implement that tourism recovery plan. That was supposed be about a nine-month to a yearlong project, but it was over 26 years ago.
What is a hidden gem in the county that even long-time residents might not know about? One of the jewels that I’ve been talking about for a while now is actually in Hialeah: Stephen’s Deli [now Kush by Stephen’s]. If you’re looking for a really cool dining experience that’s unique, Stephen’s always comes up. I’m a huge “Seinfeld” fan and, if you go, it’s actually themed around “Seinfeld.”
Is there a specific Miami-Dade neighbourhood you’d like to highlight? What’s happening in historic Overtown is nothing short of amazing. There’s a place there called the Ward Rooming House. It is, in essence, a museum showcasing some of the best art that our community has to offer, and it’s become part of a historic area that’s coming alive. We’ve got the Lil Greenhouse Grill, Copper Door B&B and, most recently, the restaurant Red Rooster opened. Not that long ago, a lot of people would have completely dismissed this area.
What would you personally like to improve on? Language is something I’m very passionate about. I’m blessed that I speak English fairly well – but you can tell me otherwise – and Spanish was something spoken at home growing up. I studied French and took a little bit of Creole last year, until the pandemic made that difficult. I also speak Portuguese. But I do feel that the ability to communicate with our communities and the media is something I want to continue to build on. I want to go back and continue my Creole classes now that the pandemic is settling down.
What’s your favourite local sports moment? The one moment that sticks out is when the University of Miami, which wasn’t popular at the time in football, signalled their arrival in the big leagues when they played Nebraska at the old Orange Bowl in 1984. I was attending UM at the time and was at that game. And I remember, when they won, I ran out onto the field. It was pandemonium. It was also about the experience of being in the old Orange Bowl in Little Havana, where I grew up.