Latest Staff Appointments News...
Cedar Rapids Area CVB Announces New CEO
April 17, 2015
The Cedar Rapids Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CRACVB) announced Aaron McCreight, as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective on May 11, 2015. McCreight is currently the CEO of the Casper Area Convention & Visitors Bureau/Casper Area Sports Alliance (Visit Casper) in Casper, WY. He has held this position with Visit Casper since 2008. He is also the owner and general manager of the Casper Cutthroats Baseball Club.
During his tenure at Visit Casper, McCreight’s collaborative approach has been successful in integrating tourism into the fabric of business decisions in the community. He has represented Visit Casper on many regional and state tourism related board and committees. He has worked extensively in sports and events, while overseeing group sales and marketing. Visit Casper has landed several major special events including National Junior College Athletic Association D-1 National Volleyball Championships and the College National Finals Rodeo.
Read the full release here.
Nebraska Tourism Commission Appoints Deputy & Operational Director
April 16, 2015
Fifteen year veteran staff member Heather Hogue has been promoted to Deputy & Operational Director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission. The Commission’s Director Kathy McKillip commented, “During her time with Nebraska Tourism, Ms. Hogue has had the opportunity to embrace many different titles, positions, assignments and duties that make her a wonderful choice for this position. She has worked for 5 different Tourism Directors during her employment demonstrating her ability to adapt to change and work with a variety of personalities.”
Hogue oversees the Commission’s local, state and federal grant opportunities including the Tourism Marketing Grant and Community Impact Grant programs, funding assistance programs that encourage Nebraska communities to work together to promote their destinations and events. As Operational Director, Hogue will manage administrative and program operations for the Commission in relation to state government policies, implement procedures regarding the Commission web site and database, supervise the internship program, manage the Commission’s fulfillment and call center contracted service providers, perform program support for the agency director, and investigate agency programs to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Hogue grew up on a family farm outside of Minden, Nebraska and joined the hospitality industry in the 1980s as a teenager learning the ropes at Harold Warp Pioneer Village. She is a graduate of the Lincoln School of Commerce Travel and Tourism Program and accepted a position with the Commission in 2000. Prior to joining the Commission, Heather’s career path included working as a customer service representative at Walt Disney World, booking travel packages as an accredited IATA travel agent, and serving as a travel agency Quality Control Operator. After years of traveling and experiencing various landscapes, Hogue chose to return home to Nebraska. She lives in Lincoln with her husband, Mike and their daughter, Maggie.
Discover St. Louis Park Names Becky Bakken as New President and CEO
April 15, 2015
Along with Bakken’s fifteen years of experience in Marketing as Citizens Independent Bank’s (CIB) Marketing Director, she will bring strong existing relationships and a deep understanding of the St. Louis Park community to her role as President and CEO. Prior to her tenure at CIB, Bakken worked in the hospitality industry and served as Executive Vice President and Director of Communications at the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, one of Minnesota’s largest chambers.
“After an exhaustive and quite competitive executive search process, Discover St. Louis Park is pleased to announce Becky Bakken as the organization’s second President and Chief Executive Officer,” reported Doug McIntyre, current chair of the 13-member DSLP Board of Directors. “Becky set herself apart from the other candidates with her strong community ties and passion.” McIntyre stated that the Board’s support for Becky was unanimous, and that “all on the DSLP Board look forward to seeing DSLP’s success continue under Becky’s new leadership.”
When the City of St. Louis Park began entertaining the idea of creating a Destination Marketing Organization, Bakken’s interest and background in the travel and tourism industry led her to join the city’s task force. She then watched the organization grow and develop a strong reputation within the community and when former President and CEO, John Basill vacated the role, it seemed natural for her to vie for his replacement. “I am both honored and excited to join Discover St. Louis Park and have the opportunity to strengthen the awareness of this dynamic community as a meeting and event destination,” said Bakken. “I have been a longtime participant and advocate of St. Louis Park during my time at CIB. I know its progressive nature and collaborative style. I am excited to continue being part of this community in my new role.”
Bakken will officially join DSLP later this month.
Director of Tourism Announced
April 13, 2105
The Warrensburg Convention and Visitors Bureau (WCVB) is pleased to announce and welcome Courtney Stephens as the new Director of Tourism. The WCVB board members, past and present, are enthusiastic about the hire and the opportunity to move forward with our mission to “position Warrensburg as a regional tourism and meeting destination.”
The vision of the WCVB is to foster experiences that exceed visitor expectations through; identifying and fostering quality visitor experiences, attracting and scheduling events and conferences, developing and cultivating sports tourism opportunities, and generating positive economic opportunities for the Warrensburg community.
Courtney is a native of Warrensburg, who attended the University of Central Missouri where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, and then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Sport Management at the University of San Francisco. Courtney currently holds the position of Executive Assistant with the City of Warrensburg.
As the Director of Tourism, Courtney looks forward to, “partnering with the multiple entities in Warrensburg that already do great things for the community, as well as building relationships with our neighbor communities.” In the past year, she has assisted the WCVB through their transformation, so we are looking forward to a smooth transition from her current position into her new role.
“I am thankful for this opportunity to help the community grow and show others that we are a doggone good town!”
The Bricton Group Hires GM and DOSM for Soon-to-Open Hyatt Place Bloomington/Normal in Illinois
April 9, 2015
The Bricton Group (www.bricton.com), management company of the soon-to-open Hyatt Place Bloomington/Normal, has filled two key positions with seasoned candidates who plan to bring the highest levels of service to the new hotel.
Rodney M. Brittain, the new general manager, has worked in almost every aspect of the hospitality industry for nearly 30 years, and is an active member of the Bloomington-Normal community. Rini Wulandari Stoltz, the new director of sales and marketing, most recently led a major growth initiative at the Grand Hyatt Jakarta, and has made an impact on several hotels in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia.
"Both of these hires impressed us with their experience and commitment to the local community," said Ed Doherty, president of The Bricton Group. "Both Mr. Brittain and Ms. Stoltz are looking forward to creating an incredible guest experience and being involved in the Bloomington-Normal community."
Hyatt Place Bloomington/Normal will be the area's newest hotel. Located in the heart of burgeoning Uptown Normal, Tartan Realty Group (www.tartanrealtygroup.com) and CA Ventures (www.ca-ventures.com) continue construction of the property which is scheduled to open in August 2015. With 114 rooms and 2,400 square feet of meeting and event space, Hyatt Place will greatly expand travel options for visitors to Illinois State University (ISU), Country Financial, State Farm Insurance and Advocate BroMenn Medical Center.
"As we get closer to the grand opening, we're thrilled to have these leaders in place," said Douglas J. Reichl, founder and president of Tartan. "Ms. Stoltz and Mr. Brittain are both active local residents who bring strong records of revenue growth and impeccable customer service to the new Hyatt Place Bloomington/Normal."
Read the full release on hotel-online.com.
Visit KC Welcomes New Manager
April 3, 2015
Adam Wright joins Visit KC in a newly created position of visitor services manager. He began on March 13.
As Visit KC settles into its new home at 1321 Baltimore Avenue—its storefront headquarters in the Kansas City Power & Light District—Wright will oversee all aspects of Visit KC’s visitor experiences. Specifically, he will be responsible for the management and operations of the visitor center, visitor information and volunteer programs and manage the Certified Tourism Ambassador program.
Prior to joining Visit KC, Wright served as special events coordinator for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, affiliate team of the Kansas City Royals in Springdale, Ark. In this position, he coordinated all events at the ballpark as well as assisted with marketing and promotional initiatives for the team.
“Adam and his team will be the first point of interaction with visitors,” said President & CEO Ronnie Burt. “I am excited that Adam has joined our team. His passion, energy and creative ideas will only enhance the visitor’s experience—whether that is the visitor center at our headquarters, inside the Convention Center or at special events across the city.”
A native of Lee’s Summit, Adam is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He previously served on the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure planning committee. Since relocating back to his hometown, he plans to become active with local charitable organizations that support homeless and children’s causes. Adam is a die-hard sports fan and enjoys going to Chiefs, Royals and Sporting KC games.
Shelton Named President and CEO of Huron Chamber & Visitors Bureau
Courtesy of The Huron Plainsman
March 30, 2015
The Huron Chamber & Visitor Bureau (CVB) board of directors is pleased to announce that Laurie Shelton has accepted the position of president and CEO, according to Steve Charron, Board Chair.
Shelton replaces Peggy Woolridge Besch who accepted the South Dakota State Fair Manager position earlier this year after serving 23 years with the Huron CVB.
“We are pleased to bring Laurie on board as our new CEO,” said Charron. “Our search committee has spent the last couple months searching for the right candidate to continue our success and mission of improving the Huron business climate and bringing visitors to our community.”
Read more here.
Hotel Lincoln Announces New Director of Sales and Marketing, Lea Rodriguez
March 26, 2015
Hotel Lincoln, the 184-room Joie de Vivre hotel located in Chicago’s storied Lincoln Park neighborhood, announces a new addition to the operations and sales team. Lea Rodriguez joins Hotel Lincoln as the new director of sales and marketing, bringing over 15 years of managerial experience to the property.
Originally from Ohio, Rodriguez discovered her love for hospitality during her time in event services at Sonesta Resort in the Caribbean. Her passion flourished as she worked with incentive groups to create memorable events and learned more about the hotel industry. Rodriguez credits her time at Sonesta for building her overall understanding of the inner workings of a hotel, giving her a foundation for her approach to sales and marketing strategies today.
Rodriguez spent two years at Sonesta before she took on the position as senior conference services & catering manager at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. She moved to Chicago in 2004 and honed in on her sales and marketing skills in positions at local properties including the Hard Rock Hotel and the Allerton Hotel. Prior to joining the team at Hotel Lincoln, Rodriguez served as the corporate director of sales for Kokua Hospitality and the director of sales and marketing for the Inn of Chicago.
“After my initial meeting with the Hotel Lincoln team, I was immediately drawn to the spirit of the property and its team,” says Rodriguez. “Creating a positive and enthusiastic atmosphere is very important to everyone at Hotel Lincoln. We enjoy coming to work every day and want our guests to feel equally as happy to be here.” Rodriguez says.
Rodriguez currently resides in Chicago with her 7-year-old daughter, Nola. The pair enjoys exploring the city and cooking together whenever possible.