Chris Cavanaugh has been called “a Swiss Army knife of strategy and marketing skills” because of his diverse set of capabilities and experiences. Cavanaugh has served as a strategic planning and marketing consultant for over 16 years and has worked with a wide range of clients and projects. He is most proud of his versatility, professionalism, and ability to listen to clients and stakeholders. He is widely recognized for his ability to see through daily minutiae and to identify strategic opportunities and solutions to problems.
Cavanaugh’s range of experiences includes units of large global firms and modest non-profit organizations across a variety of categories. As president of Magellan Strategy Group, he’s worked in both small rural communities and giant metropolitan areas. He’s consulted with entities with significant resources and those with barely a nickel to their name.
Prior to founding Magellan Strategy Group in 2004, Cavanaugh served as vice president of marketing for The Biltmore Company in Asheville, NC, the owner of Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home. While at Biltmore, Cavanaugh helped guide the company’s marketing planning, strategy, and execution for almost ten years as part of an amazing team of talented people. During his time, 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 and the Biltmore Estate Winery.
Cavanaugh served on the state’s travel and tourism board from 2003 through 2012. He is past chairman of that board, and also past chairman of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (overseeing the work of the Explore Asheville CVB) and Blue Ridge Mountain Host, a regional marketing association. Cavanaugh has been a recipient of the Southeast Tourism Society Shining Example Award and the Travel Industry Association of North Carolina’s Tourism Excellence Award. Cavanaugh was tapped to be the interim CEO of Explore Asheville CVB in 2020. His work leading the organization during the coronavirus pandemic earned him praise and recognition as an Asheville tourism “superstar.”
Cavanaugh holds a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Emory University. He had a career in consumer packaged goods marketing prior to joining The Biltmore Company. He is a co-founder of the DIY Tourism Marketing Conference, held annually in Asheville, and has served on the Industry Roundtable of the Charlotte Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond since 2013. Cavanaugh has just finished two terms as a board member of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and continues to volunteer his time to the organization.