Hospitality Industry to Present Inaugural E.W. “Bud” Wendell Award During Annual Celebration
Nashville, Tenn. – The hospitality industry will honor the work of former president and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment E.W. “Bud” Wendell by presenting the first-ever major hospitality industry award which will be named in his honor, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC) announced today. The award, to be given at the industry’s annual celebration on May 7, will recognize an individual outside of the hospitality industry who has contributed above and beyond to the overall success of tourism and convention business in Nashville.
“From the great press and accolades to the attention from the “Nashville” TV show, our city is at the forefront of everyone’s minds,” said Ed Hardy, chair of the NCVC board of directors. “Now more than ever it’s important we remain mindful of the fact that none of this happened overnight. In terms of the evolution of Nashville as a top destination, it was a 30-year process and much of the momentum for that took place through the work of Bud Wendell. It is a perfect time to honor Mr. Wendell’s work by creating this award in his name.”
As manager of the Grand Ole Opry and later CEO of Gaylord Entertainment, Wendell is credited with brand evolution of the Ryman and the Opry, the broad reach of Nashville’s music community, the revitalization of downtown and the growth of the tourism and meeting industry.
“Bud Wendell was among the first people to recognize what a tremendously powerful and unique force the Music City brand could be for our city’s tourism and business interests,” said Colin Reed chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties. “Throughout his career, Bud’s vision was to bring Nashville to the world through the Grand Ole Opry and the world to Nashville through the Opryland Hotel. Our company could not be more proud to see this award named after one of our own.”
The NCVC will present the first recipient of the E.W. “Bud” Wendell Award at the third-annual National Tourism Week Hospitality Industry Celebration on May 7 at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. For more information or to register to attend, visit http://www.visitmusiccity.com/TourismWeek14.html.
E.W. “Bud” Wendell
Wendell began his career with the National Life and Accident Insurance Company (then the parent company of WSM and the Opry) in 1950 as a door-to-door insurance salesman in Hamilton, Ohio. After several transfers, he moved to the home office in Nashville in 1962. He was named manager of the Opry in April 1968.
Wendell smoothed over rifts between the Opry and the country music industry and developed a close relationship with Nashville’s business community. Wendell became vice president of WSM and general manager of the Grand Ole Opry and Opryland theme park in 1974, just as the Opry was being moved from the aging Ryman Auditorium to its present location near the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. He became president and CEO of WSM in 1978 and chairman in 1980. The Gaylord company acquired National Life’s entertainment interests in 1983, and Wendell was named president and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment in 1991.
Under Wendell’s leadership, Gaylord launched The Nashville Network (TNN) in 1983, acquired Country Music Television (CMT) in 1991, launched CMT Europe in 1992, extended CMT’s reach into Latin America and Asia, expanded the Opryland Hotel into Nashville’s largest convention facility, and established the Opryland Music Group (which acquired the massive Acuff-Rose publishing catalog). In addition, Wendell oversaw Gaylord’s renovation of the Ryman Auditorium and the opening of the Wildhorse Saloon dance club, which helped revive a declining downtown Nashville.
--Adapted from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp
The mission of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp is to maximize the economic contribution of the convention and tourism industry to the community by developing and marketing Nashville as a premier destination. Visit the NCVC’s website at www.visitmusiccity.com.