Members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2020 already have proven to be leaders, putting their own mark on the business events industry. Kelly Thomas, senior sales manager for Visit Austin in Texas, shares her thoughts about the industry.
What do you like most about your job?
I love being a part of an organization that values its employees and makes it enjoyable to go to work each day. I feel fortunate to have been hired at Visit Austin right out of college and to have spent nearly nine years promoting the wonderful quirks our destination has to offer. I’ve built many meaningful relationships with my team at Visit Austin and with clients across the United States. I love that every single day is different — from showcasing the city on site visits, representing at a trade show, or hosting an Austin experiential event in cities across the United States. I feel blessed to be a part of the DMO world. Seeing Austin thrive, and knowing that I have contributed to the growth and success of our city, makes me excited and energized to continue in this incredible industry.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
My ultimate career goal would be to manage a team within a DMO. Within the next five years, I hope to have some additional management and leadership experience and be well on my way to holding that senior position. I’ve always enjoyed being a support system and helping others become successful in their lives. I have created a reputation for being honest, loyal and enthusiastic, yet I’m able to hold people accountable. I believe these traits have helped me become a young leader and positive role model within my organization. I never want to stop learning and encouraging others. Doing these things at Visit Austin, where I began my career, would be the icing on the cake.
What’s one — or more — event trends you have your eye on?
Experiential events and meetings that get attendees involved on an interactive level is a trend I’m loving right now. Sitting in a ballroom and listening to a speaker for eight hours each day is slowly becoming an exception to the norm. Creating a memorable experience by infusing the city into your events is a fun way to get education, but also exposes attendees to different destinations’ cultures, food, etc. Obviously, working in the “Live Music Capital of the World,” we always try to support and highlight the talent we have locally by integrating Austin musicians into every event. We also are seeing food and beverage offerings that are tailored toward the mindful eater. The health and wellness trend has taken off, and I can get on board with that — as long as there is a breakfast taco in my not-too-distant future.