Kate Bleakley, Visit Aurora
Director of Sales
Resume: A 2005 meeting with a convention center manager made Kate Bleakley switch career paths from higher education to hospitality. One month later, she was a catering assistant, and she rocketed through four hotels in six years, gaining experience in convention services and sales management. She opened the Aurora CVB as its director of sales in 2011, and since has been trailblazing new market segments. In June, her numbers were up 223 percent over the 12,000 new room nights she introduced last year to the Aurora market.
Inspiration: “I am driven to provide an outstanding level of service. I want everyone who books an event in our city to have an amazing experience and be able to happily recommend us as a destination. Getting that positive word-of-mouth referral business keeps me going.”
Industry Mentors: Gary Wheat, president and CEO, Visit Aurora; Thomas Goodwill, director of sales and marketing, Millennium Harvest House Boulder; Maureen Goldman, global account executive, ConferenceDirect; and Diane Wendt, director of strategic partnerships and corporate relations, University of Denver
Professional Affiliations: Colorado Society of Association Executives, Destination Colorado, DMAI, NASC, RCMA, SGMP and Reunion Friendly Network
Dream Speaker: Bill Geist. “I saw him speak at last year’s Colorado Tourism Conference. He has some incredible ideas and insights into the tourism industry.”
Last Place You Vacationed: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Worst Industry Buzzword: ROI. “I have a love/hate relationship with the word. It is so critical for your marketing efforts and services to be able to demonstrate value, but how you track results can often be a challenge.”
Professional Pet Peeve: “Lack of follow-up. It’s amazing how many people won’t put in the effort when there is already an existing connection there.”
First Job: Lifeguard
The Bleakley Profile: iPhone | Checked bag. I end up bringing a mobile office with me. | Window seat. I like having a chance to check out my surroundings. | Tea. It’s part of my English heritage. | Dress pants | Neither. I like to try and get face time with clients whenever possible. It’s the best way to develop a lasting and professional relationship with someone.