Celebrating a Seasoned Tourism Veteran
There was a time when typewriters were plentiful and computers scarce, and I began my 35-year career in the hospitality/tourism industry. No email, few databases and communication was always on the telephone or in writing via snail mail. I could not have picked a better career! Actually, I didn’t pick this career. It found me! And I’m so very glad that it did.
Bored with a clerical job, I found the position as assistant to the GM of a suburban hotel who, after about 3 months, declared “You’d be good in sales.” That was the beginning of 7 years in hotel sales with Ramada Inns and Hilton Hotels – suburban to large downtown convention hotels. At my very first hotel, I had the pleasure of working with the city’s convention & visitors bureau. It just so happened that my contact there had moved to the Grapevine, Texas CVB and asked me to work with him. That was the beginning of my favorite part of my career. I’ve always thought of myself as a “big picture” person and thoroughly enjoyed representing all the pieces that make up a great destination for visitors and meetings. After 7 years in Grapevine, I had the opportunity to join the Arlington, Texas CVB – a totally different type destination and a new growth experience.
Following Arlington, I moved to North Carolina to take my first CEO position in Hickory, NC. In North Carolina is where I met my husband and after a few years, moved to the opposite end of the state to beautiful New Bern, NC and a side step back into hotel sales. I’ll have to admit that the beautiful Sheraton Hotel (now Doubletree) on the water in historic downtown New Bern was my favorite hotel. But when my husband suggested that we move back to Texas, we jumped on that to be with both families in my home state. Visit Plano has been my home for 9 years now and it’s been a thrill to represent our city and watch it grow to offer more and more to visitors and conventions. Each place I’ve worked over these 35 years has been different from the last and offered career growth opportunities and memorable new experiences.
In what industry can you travel the world, or at least the U.S., meet people from all over the world and make new, lasting friendships at every conference or tradeshow, laugh like a loon with those friends or the speakers who liven up every conference? Some of the best friendships are with those who are our competitors or peers and we end up cross-selling when we don’t have what a prospective client wants. And there are those whom we call clients, but we forge those business relationships that go beyond the planner/supplier connection and become friendships. Also, where can you go to conferences that teach you how to grow in your job and how to be a better person?
At last count, my hospitality industry career has shown me 38 U.S. states – some of those more than once – and 3 foreign countries. I guess my bucket list will include those states that I missed over those 35 years.
Many have asked me what I’ll do when I retire. For the first week at least, the answer is sleep past 5:30 a.m., then “do nothing.” But that’s not entirely true as I look to find the “new me.” My retired friends have all said that I’ll wonder when I found the time to actually work a full-time job as they are busier now than when they worked. My husband is writing a book – perhaps I’ll offer assistance with that; or, put my hands in the dirt to create that landscape that I’ve imagined from the pictures I’ve clipped. More time will be spent volunteering at our church and perhaps elsewhere. However, one cannot just give up and quit a 35-year career. So, I’m going to keep my hand in the industry doing sales/marketing projects with and for some of those contacts made over the years … after all, 35 years of experience should not go to waste. Oh, and there will probably be some travel in my future, too.
Now the bucket list is getting really full … so starting October 1, I’ll start emptying it. If you’re in the Dallas area, please look me up and ask me where I am with that bucket list!