When Butch Spyridon became the president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. in 1991, Nashville’s landscape looked quite different — both literally and figuratively. There was no Bridgestone Arena, no Nissan Stadium, no Music City Center. Our beloved Nashville didn’t have the same draw for conventions or business, and even though the city had already been known for its music for decades, Music City tourism was nowhere near what it is today. Butch has lead the city through ups and downs over the years — including the time 13 tornadoes hit Nashville in one day in 1998, one ripping through downtown and causing catastrophic damage, as well as the devastating flood of 2010 — but now Nashville continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing down. Last year alone, 113 new restaurants opened, and this year, 16 hotel properties are expected to open — an all-time high for Nashville. In fact, Butch says that out of the last 85 months, 82 of those have shown record performance. Our city now boasts $6 billion in direct visitor spending each year, and 65,000 people are employed in the hospitality industry alone. And for so much of that, we have Butch to thank. We chatted with him to find out a few of his favorite things about Nashville and where he likes to spend time.
Name: Butch Spyridon
Profession/Title: President and CEO of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.
Hometown: Pascagoula, Mississippi
Zip code: 37027
Years in Nashville: 26 ½
Number of tourists that visited Nashville last year: 14.5 million
What’s it been like watching Nashville evolve over the years? Nothing short of a miracle. Nashville has been thoughtful and deliberate in many initiatives to improve our community, but I don’t believe anyone saw this level of success coming. I hope we played a part, but it has been a combination of great leaders, forward-thinking residents and a little luck.
How do you feel about the “new" Nashville? In my world, cities are growing or dying, so I like the “new” Nashville.
What’s the most underrated or often overlooked attraction in Nashville? The Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum
What’s your favorite annual event? Music City Food + Wine Festival
If you had $1 million to give to a nonprofit, which one would you give it to? Can I divide the money four ways? If so, Pencil Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Humane Association and YWCA.
What is Nashville missing? Nothing of significance. Maybe the mindset to remember our culture and heritage.
What makes you the most proud of Nashville? The people of this community
Where's one place you always take friends visiting from out of town? I make sure they get to experience the incredible food scene and live music.
What’s your favorite time of year in Nashville? I’m a fan of fall in Nashville — the fall colors, the festivals, the events and sports.
What’s your favorite city to visit? Anywhere with an ocean
What’s your favorite part of your job? Every day is completely different. Least favorite? Public speaking
What’s your favorite thing to do in town that feels the most authentically Nashville? Songwriter shows
What’s your ideal night on the town look like? Nice dinner, good show, late-night snack at Dino’s or Hermitage Cafe
What do you hope Nashville looks like in 10 years? Pretty close to what we are now — but with a good transit system and a new Titans Stadium
What’s one thing you hope never changes about Nashville? The friendly, caring nature that Nashvillians display every day