People News: 2016 Ends with Flurry of New Hirings, Promotions

January 9, 2017

Instead of ending on a quiet note, last year finished up with a flurry of new hires and promotions at venues, convention bureaus and other companies.

John Gonzalez, the long-time director of event and guest services at the George R. Brown Convention Center, has been promoted to the new vice president position at Houston First Corporation’s downtown convention complex.

In his new role, Gonzalez will assist HFC COO Luther Villagomez in the administration of the George R. Brown and its central role in shaping the new Avenida Houston convention and entertainment district.

Gonzalez will interface with business representatives, organizations, suppliers, contractors, advisory committees, show promoters and contractor services. In addition, his successor over event and guest services will report to him.

Team San Jose promoted Cheryl Little to director of Sales and Destination Services. Little has been with Team San Jose for 26 years, and her expertise will help Team San Jose drive group sales and room nights.

“Cheryl is one of our longest tenured employees at Team San Jose and has been an integral part of our organization’s success from the beginning,” said Team San Jose CEO Karolyn Kirchgesler.

She added, “She has helped us achieve our performance goals for four consecutive years and assisted in leading our team to exceed their sales goals during our convention center renovation and expansion when there was limited venue space available.”

Little will lead sales efforts responsible for the economic performance of the organization through room night production and facility revenue. She also will lead the promotion and selling of CVB services as a destination management company, including housing, registration and off-site events.

Experience Kissimmee, the official tourism authority for Osceola County, Fla., has appointed Jodi DiSalle as vice president of Communications.

In this role, DiSalle will guide Experience Kissimmee’s overall communication strategy to promote, enhance and protect the organization’s brand reputation; develop and implement a comprehensive public relations plan targeting leisure and group travel markets; and provide guidance and direction to international vendors, specific to media activities and engagement.

As a member of the senior leadership team, DiSalle also will contribute to the organization’s strategic planning and topline marketing initiatives. 

“Jodi’s experience, industry knowledge and fresh perspective make her an outstanding addition to our executive team,” stated DT Minich, Experience Kissimmee president and CEO. “Her local connections and time as an Experience Kissimmee board member will ensure a smooth transition and help maintain the department’s momentum.”

A PR veteran of more than 12 years, DiSalle most recently was director of Marketing and Public Relations for the 1,416-room Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee.

Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitors Association, has hired Courtney S. Ries as vice president of Destination Branding & Strategy.

Ries comes to Minneapolis from Travel Portland, where she worked for eight years and most recently served as vice president of Marketing, overseeing its domestic and international leisure consumer and convention sales marketing efforts.

As vice president of Destination Branding & Strategy at Meet Minneapolis, Ries will manage marketing and branding, partnership marketing sales and revenue generation, creative services and production, website and digital marketing, Convention Center marketing and public relations, among other responsibilities.

SmartSource Computer & Audio Visual Rentals, a provider of computer, audio visual (AV) and technology solutions for businesses and events, appointed Leverett W. Campbell III as an account executive serving in the Mid-Atlantic market.

He will be based in SmartSource Rentals’ Washington, D.C., office. Campbell will be focusing on developing new client relationships within the federal, state and local government markets.

Campbell brings a proven track record successfully selling technology solutions to diverse markets including the Fortune 1000, commercial accounts, colleges/universities, system integrators and the U.S. military. 

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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.