This year, Judi Quesonova, CMP, CTA, will celebrate her 30th anniversary of working at Visit Houston. The vice president of client services says her three decades of service started with a love of the city.
Quesonova started working at Visit Houston, previously the Greater Houston CVB, after working in the oil industry. She joined the CVB as an administrative assistant to the director of sales before moving up through the ranks. She served as a special products managers, before becoming a sales manager and then the director of convention services. Quesonova became the vice president of client services in 2014.
“I don’t have a degree in marketing or hotel/motel management, and I didn’t come from a hotel, which is typically how you get into the industry,” Quesonova says. “The work was all about Houston. I’m not a native, but I’ve been here quite a while. I loved the city. The role was a great fit, and I loved the people, too.”
Quesonova says she enjoys showcasing what Houston offers, especially to people unfamiliar with Houston’s offerings.
“So many people either have no expectations of Houston or just think ‘cowboys,’” Quesonova says. “People don’t realize Houston is so green. They’re also surprised by how international we are, and how very modern the city is… You can do anything here that you want to do. Houston is a big city that has a warmth to it.”
In her current role, Quesonova says love for the work is key.
“You have to have a passion for [hospitality],” Quesonova says. “If it’s a city that you’re selling or a venue, you have to love it to sell it and serve it well. If you don’t, that will come across to your client.”
She also loves showcasing the hospitality of her fellow Houstonians. “The people in Houston are the best, and I tell folks that all the time,” Quesonova says. “They are very friendly and accommodating. If you’re out in the city and look like you don’t know what you’re doing, folks will ask you, ‘Can I help you?’”
Quesonova says she has enjoyed watching Houston grow over the past 30 years, including the renovation and facelift of Avenida Houston and George R. Brown Convention Center. Some of her favorite Houston activities include checking out Houston’s museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Natural Science, Museum of African American Culture and the National Buffalo Solider Museum.
A Bird’s-Eye View
Of her 30 years in the industry, a few stories stick out. One was a helicopter ride, coordinated to help a client see an extensive amount of the Houston area, including downtown Houston, College Station and Huntsville, in one day.
“It was my first helicopter ride,” she says. “It was an absolutely fabulous day, and it was wonderful to look down. When we went to a high school, there wasn’t a helicopter landing, so we needed to look to find the X where we were going to land.”
Quesonova is also proud of a new program Visit Houston is launching in 2019 to formalize local volunteers able to assist with event needs. “If [planners] need volunteers on the ground, they can use the volunteer program to save them money and time,” she says. “Offering local volunteers to help also makes them feel welcome,” she says.
Quesonova says she’s learned flexibility is a critical piece to success.
“In this industry, it changes day to day, and you have to be very flexible with doing that. We do site visits and send a plan to the client, but when they get on the ground, (the client) may want something completely different,” Quesonova says. “You have to spin on a dime and make sure your client achieve their goal.”
Maintaining clear communication and managing expectations have also been key. “You need to be very realistic in what you can do and be truthful in what you can do,” Quesonova says. “Tell people, ‘This is what we can do, and then do it.’ And if you can’t do it, you tell them that, too. You try to have alternatives. ‘Maybe we can’t do this, but we can do that.’”
Quesonova says she has no plans of leaving her beloved city.
“I think I’m where I need to be,” Quesonova says. “I’m working with a team of people that are a stellar group of men and women, and I enjoy that so much.”