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October 02, 2008


Kim Lilly

I was a trained magazine journalist without a job. Then I received a graduate degree in writing ... still without a job. To pay the bills, I became a janitor and then a bartender at a local golf course. The golf course made me their sales and marketing manager once they found out I could write (and after I learned the ins and outs of golf, which I knew nothing about). Through connections via the golf course I learned about the CVB. When I interviewed for the e-marketing position with them, I knew nothing about tourism and very minimal about marketing (let alone e-marketing) but, once again, my writing skills were my saving grace! Now, for the first time in 10 years, I feel like I've finally found a career.

PS. Looking forward to hearing you speak at our Annual Meeting next week!

Joe Buhler

Didn't back in - started out in travel & tourism and never left to this day and by now I guess it's too late to escape!

Funny thing about DMOs, after spending ten years in travel sending thousands of visitors to various destinations across Europe from Japan, I never knew such a thing as a DMO existed, until I applied for a job at the Swiss one. Talk about recognition across the industry!


A babysitter let me stay up late and watch a show called "Hotel." As a young impressionable girl I dreamed of one day having a career like Connie Selleca's character. I read my first copy of the Hotel/Motel Association's text book on hospitality at the age of 12.... I got my first job at a hotel at the age of 14. I dragged my Mom along with me to the job interview and convinced the hotel manager to hire me. My Mom had to sign a permission form! Over the years I quickly worked my way up the hospitality ladder. As a Director of Sales/Marketing I worked closely with various CVB's over the years. One day I got an offer I couldn't refuse and here I am. Tourism rocks!

Bill Geist

It Rocks, indeed. And thanks, Jenny. Great to have such a great personal story before my visit. Can't wait!


Growing up, one of Dad's best friends was the VP Sales for Louisville CVB - influence?. Summer between HS and college, I worked for Sunnyside of Louisville CVB at a highway welcome center. I then worked as a ski instructor and knew I wanted to continue in the ski industry. In college, I signed on as a volunteer for the National Collegiate Ski Association - any of you that went to college in the Midwest especially, if you went on a college ski weekend with a bunch of other drunks, I mean skiers, it was with NCSA. I ended up as a VP on the board in charge of their Recreation Division - think college ski clubs. After graduation, I was slated to go to work with NCSA. I thought about the idea of working in the ski industry via a basement office in an old church in Milwaukee and decided to do the dumb thing - send out about 80 resumes to ski areas across the country. Not so dumb. I got an interview and job offer as marketing manager at Snow Trails Ski Area in Mansfield, OH.

While on the board of the CVB there, I helped hire my first tourism hero - Lee Tasseff. Then I left the ski area and went to work for that other tourism god, George Zimmermann at Ohio tourism (you know him as the two-time loser now at Michigan, I mean 2-time STD). HA!

Finally, through a roundabout path, I ended up back home in Indiana at a CVB. I guess I was destined for this even though I thought I wanted to be in the ski biz. Whoda thunk it?!

P.S. For all you ESTO 08 veterans, you already know that my newest tourism hero is Lamar.

Bill Geist

Great story!


My dad worked for the telephone company in Lexington, VA that just happened to be in the same building as the Lexington Visitor Center. I was 17 and needed a job during my senior year of high school. My dad knew the Director of the DMO who gave me a job as a travel counselor in the Visitor Center. I loved it and was just so happy that I wasn't flipping burgers like a lot of my high school friends. I graduated from college with a business degree and had no idea what I wanted to do. Luckily, that same Visitor Center was looking for a Visitor Center Manager. I spent about 4 years managing the VC until I decided to go back to school part time and get my Masters of Tourism Administration from The George Washington University. I met some cool people there including the king of tourism research and my personal tourism mentor, Dr. Doug Frechtling. Following graduation I was promoted to Marketing Director. I spent 7 years marketing Lexington until I landed my own gig as the Tourism Director in Staunton, Virginia. I guess it was just meant to be.

Bill Geist

Therapists like to blame everything on our parents. In your case, I guess thanks are in order to your Dad :)

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