2017 Supplier of the Year: Doers

Jason Lusk, Visit Denver

Name: Jason Lusk
Title: Associate Vice President, Convention Sales
Company: Visit Denver
Affiliations: PCMA and ASAE
Background: Began working at Friday Center while attending University of North Carolina, and continued working there for several years after college. In 2004 he joined Visit Baltimore. Three years later he began working with Visit Denver as a D.C.-based representative, until moving onsite in 2011.
Guiding philosophy: “I like seeing people happy and industry peers succeed. I like seeing planners look good to their stakeholders. I like saying ‘yes.’”
Testimonial: “Jason’s leadership is unlike those at any other CVB because he’s truly passionate about working with customers. In fact, they often become his friends.” –Jason A. Ware, director of meetings at CRF Center for Education

Jason Lusk, associate vice president of convention sales at Visit Denver, says in his 23 years of industry experience the one thing that has not changed—nor ever will—is that “there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction.”

As geography major, Lusk says that people think he should know the capital of every country. Although this is not the case, Lusk still humorously reasons that his education did come in handy because he has spent his professional life convincing people to go somewhere.

Lusk has been with Visit Denver for 10 years, starting as a Washington, D.C. representative. He now resides in Denver and lives by a few strong principles, such as fierce loyalty and integrity. He credits maintaining a sense of self-awareness and esteeming the people you represent as vital factors behind all of his work.

He truly enjoys the day-to-day functions and interactions of his position, saying, “Working with the Visit Denver team, Denver’s hospitality partners and my countless industry peers rarely feels like work. I bet my worst days are better than most people’s good days!”

Cory Rosenberg, NYC & Company

Name: Cory Rosenberg
Title: Regional Director for the West
Company: NYC & Company
Affiliations: MPI, PCMA, CEMA
Background: A self-professed hotelier at heart, Rosenberg began his career with two respected hospitality companies, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and then InterContinental Hotels Group (before the latter acquired the former). He joined NYC & Company in 2014.
Guiding philosophy: Each “moment of truth” as a hospitality professional drives the meetings industry, collaborates, shares ideas, innovates and moves the industry as a whole into the future.
Testimonial: “Cory Rosenberg gets it! I’ve worked with Cory on several association programs of different sizes in New York City. His support and timeliness is on point, and he is both strategic and consultative.” –Marisa F. Crame, senior director of global accounts, HelmsBriscoe

“Even a brief interaction can leave a lasting positive impression on any client, guest or stranger whom I assist,” says Cory Rosenberg, destination expert for NYC & Company, specializing in New York City-based meetings and events for Western markets.

Making the most of these “moments of truth” is how Rosenberg has approached his career since his first hospitality class at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he studied hospitality and tourism management. He graduated in 2005.

Stints at hospitality companies convinced him he had chosen the right path. He landed a sales job at Handlery Hotel and Resort near Union Square in San Francisco, which led him to becoming area sales manager for Kimpton Hotels in San Francisco. Kimpton then transferred him to serve in the same role in New York City. He was then area director for international sales for two InterContinental hotels in Manhattan.

NYC & Company wooed him away in 2014—and sent him to Los Angeles.

“As a New Yorker residing in Southern California, I can offer insights into New York from both first-hand experience and a West Coast perspective,” he says.

Violeta Sales, AMResorts

Name: Violeta Sales
Title: Corporate Director of Groups
Company: AMResorts
Affiliations: CMP and CMM, along with MPI, SITE, GBTA and FICP
Background: Worked in all areas of hotel operation. Sales spent 20 years working as director of group sales for Spanish hotel chain Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts.
Guiding philosophy: Happy employees make happy customers.
Testimonial: “I do not have a closer or better relationship with a supplier than Violeta. I trust her opinion completely. And her integrity is amazing.” –Rob Thorsteinson, president, Cascadia Motivation Inc. (full-service incentive marketing & meeting management company)

Throughout 27 years of working in the hospitality industry, Violeta has gained experienced in all realms of the hospitality industry, including hotel operations and global sales. She has cultivated great passion for creating memorable guest experiences. After 20 years working as director of group sales for Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts, Sales began her current role as director of group sales for AMResorts in May 2010. Sales says that her career “shaped the person that I am now and brought me to the place where I want to be.”

Early in Sales’ career, she acquired the CMP certification, followed by the CMM. Earning these official recognitions tremendously helped her management skills. Throughout different stages in her career, Sales joined important industry organizations, including MPI, SITE, GBTA and FICP. Sales appreciates continued learning, stating, “I strongly believe that successful people never stop learning and preparing for success.”

Another one of Sales’ main principles is clear communication. She strongly believes that employees deserve adequate training so that they can solve any problem they encounter. She adds, “Providing standard policies and procedures has been the driving force to successful and well-delivered programs.”

Susan Smith, Northern Kentucky CVB

Name: Susan Smith
Title: Senior Convention Sales Manager
Company: Northern Kentucky CVB
Affiliations: PCMA, RCMA and CMCA member, also earned her CMP, CASE, CTA and PDM.
Background: Began her career working at Hyatt Hotels, occupying the position of sales contact and event manager. Smith has occupied her role at Northern Kentucky CVB for 19 years, recruiting national associations, religious organizations and corporations to the area.
Guiding philosophy: “I like to put energy into making people feel welcome. When one feels welcome, it seems to enhance how they receive whatever experience is in front of them.”
Testimonial: “We return to Northern Kentucky because we like her and the area.” –Bob Kaiser, meeting planner at IFCA International

“My role is to introduce planners to our gem of a destination, northern Kentucky, and our great team of people who will support them along the way to create and execute a brilliant meeting experience,” Susan Smith, senior convention sales manager of Northern Kentucky CVB, says of her role.

Smith is an avid learner. She earned her CMP, CASE, CTA and PDM and loves absorbing knowledge of all types. She looks back affectionately at her career, from her first role as a “book and cook” for Hyatt Hotels, meaning a sales contact and event manager. This experience was essential. She says it helps her to understand hotel partners while also talking about what Northern Kentucky offers.

Smith expresses gratitude for all the valuable lessons she has learned from her peers. And she sends a special shout out her “amazing Southern Mom,” from who she learned so much just by watching her.

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