Director of Sales, ASM Global, Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center
Describe your job.
As director of sales for the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center, I am responsible for promoting and booking events. I work with our clients to convey their needs to our internal departments and relay our requirements for a successful event back to the client. For this job, you need to be versatile, available, a problem solver, a good listener, and simply think outside the box. No day in the industry is the same.
What made you choose the meetings and events industry?
I believe the meetings and events industry finds you. It’s not the standard career path like a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. Growing up, my father was in the hotel and restaurant industry. The spirit of the hospitality industry was instilled in me at a young age; I have always enjoyed the environment and the involvement that comes along with it.
How did you get started, and what got you from there to today?
I graduated with a communications degree from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. My first job out of college was with Visit Mobile as a public relations coordinator with a focus on travel and tourism. I had
the opportunity to showcase my unique city to meeting planners and travel writers worldwide. I gained my sales experience when I left to work in advertising sales for a few years. During that time, I had unknowingly honed my skills in this industry. I knew my city and how to sell it and present what we have to offer. I was lucky to be hired as a sales manager with the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center and have been with the convention center for 17 years. I have gone from sales manager to senior sales manager, and now I am the director of sales. My experiences and positions helped me develop the skills I needed to be successful.
How do you keep up with industry trends, changes, and cutting-edge developments?
ASM Global venue management company has a great network connecting us with more than 350 venues.
What essential skills should every industry professional possess?
You cannot be one-dimensional and be relevant; your skills need to create that relevance. You need communication, presence, listening, relating, questioning, and problem-solving skills.
– Communication is vital with your team and your client. Make sure they understand and are aware.
– You should be present of mind. Focus on the client and understand their needs.
– Listening is critical on both sides of the table. How you relate to the client and understand their needs, budget, and vision are essential.
– Ask questions. Be knowledgeable about your topic. Do not assume.
– Problem solving with your team is such an added value. Use the strengths of the people with whom you surround yourself.
What is the philosophy or approach to work that gets you through stressful times?
You have to have a sense of humor, personally and professionally. There is always a resolution; sometimes, you just need to breathe and not be so serious to see it.
What is the best professional advice you ever received, and what advice do you have for others in the industry?
It is hard to choose just one piece of advice I have received over the years. I am fortunate to work for a general manager with more than 35 years of experience and other colleagues with many years of experience. A very simple piece of advice I once received was this: “Build a great team and have fun.” My advice to others in our industry is to apply the elements of your personality to what you do and work hard.
Describe your biggest professional success.
My Mobile team and I were part of a bid presentation for a large national convention. We were bidding for a future year that was three years out. After finishing the hour-long presentation, we thanked the group of about 20 committee members and excused ourselves. The organization’s president ran down the hallway to get our attention and said the group voted unanimously to come to Mobile. They also wanted to see if they could book sooner than their original year.
Share an anecdote about a meeting or event that did not go as planned and how you handled it.
We had a tradeshow and convention moving in during an ice storm a few years ago. This kind of weather is very rare in south Alabama. We had to limit our staff in the building due to poor road conditions. The attendees were already in the city, staying in hotels within walking distance of the convention center. So, the event went on and was successful despite the limitations. The following year, we had a running joke that we would leave the keys to the convention center under the doormat, and they just needed to turn the lights off when the show was over. We also sent the president of the organization ice pops from a locally owned shop as a thank-you.
What is the best part of your job?
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have been married to my husband, Forrest, for 12 years, and we have two children: Eva Katherine, 10, and Forrest, 7. We all enjoy being outside, especially near or on the water. That’s the beauty of where we live.