Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau welcomes Katie Hughes

Jul 13, 2015

By Brad McEwen, Albany Herald

ALBANY — In an effort to bolster additional tourism revenue for the city and surrounding area, the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), has hired Katie Hughes as the organization’s new sales manager in hopes that her fresh perspective will entice others outside the community to make the Good Life City a must-visit destination.

"It’s amazing how visitors and newcomers see things,” said CVB Executive Director Rashelle Beasley. “That is one of the benefits of having a sales person that’s not from here. They can see all the great things that we have to offer and it gives them more power to sell Albany. Somebody who has fresh eyes on Albany can come up with more creative ways to sell it. They can see things that we can’t see. They can bring fresh ideas.”

Beasley is hoping those creative ways to sell Albany will come in handy as Hughes begins meeting with different groups around the state and and the country who might be interested in Albany and Dougherty County as a destination for different events such as meetings, conferences, family reunions and motor coach tours.

One of Hughes’ primary responsibilities will be forging professional relationships within the tourism world and locally as well, something Hughes is hoping to start doing very soon.

“Right now we’ve really done a lot of sightseeing,” said Hughes about her first three weeks in Albany. “I’ve met a few hoteliers and we’ve gone to a couple of the restaurants just so I can have that experience. With my job I’m going to have to have a lot of those relationships with the hoteliers, with the restaurants, and with the people in the community. We’ve gotten to see a few things, but I’m really hoping to jump in here in the next few weeks and meet a lot of people.”

Although she has met just a few people in town, mainly during trips to Target, the Albany Mall and the grocery store, Hughes has been somewhat surprised by a few of those encounters. Hughes, whose fiance is a Marine stationed in Albany, has been thrilled with what she’s found in Albany during visits and since moving here. She was a little taken aback when some residents expressed negativity about the community.

"I was really surprised when people started asking me why I was moving here as if it were a bad thing,” said Hughes. “I was surprised by the negative feedback. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to move here. There is so much to do, so many great thing to see.”

Citing the abundance of outdoor recreation and the close proximity of retail as just a few of the things that Hughes, who grew up in rural northern Mississippi, feels Albany has going for it.

“There is a lot more to offer than I really anticipated,” said Hughes. “I kind of grew up in the middle of nowhere so everything being so close to me has been overwhelming. I’ve probably been to Target and the Mall over 10 times. I’m not used to having that stuff close by. I’m used to having to travel like two hours to go to a car dealership, or go to a mall or to any other form of civilization just because the area I grew up in is pretty far from that.”

Hughes said she is excited about the Flint River and the different recreational aspects that the river provides, from kayaking to hiking and biking trails.

“The river was a really big thing for me; being close to the water, I’ve always loved that,” said Hughes. “I love the outdoor aspects and how much this area has to offer. I really enjoy running and we (she and her fiance) started kayaking a couple of years ago so I really enjoy that. It’s just beautiful here.”

While spending time in Albany and getting to know its many colorful citizens is certainly a top priority for Hughes, her role requires a good bit of travel, which will have the new resident spending a considerable amount of time on the road.

“Hiring a sales manager at the CVB can be difficult because 50 percent of their time is going to be spent travelling,” said Beasley. “And then its going to be a lot of follow up, a lot of professional relationship building. It takes a certain type of person to be able to travel and to keep up with those relationships.”

For her part Hughes, who has marketing and management degrees from Ole Miss, where she spent the last two years managing a student housing complex, said she is up for the challenge and couldn’t be more excited than to land the new CVB gig.

“I’d always looked at doing sales but this is really a different line of sales,” said Hughes. “This position gives me the chance to really learn about the community, be a part of the community and also have the opportunity to sell the community. I’m really excited about it.”

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