Lisa Itel had spent her whole work life in retail—until her general manager at Woodburn Premium Outlets in Woodburn, Oregon, gave her a tourism project she dove into with all she had. Seven years later, Lisa’s passion for tourism blossomed into her current job of bringing tourism to Oregon, working hand-in-hand with community partners (even in the surrounding states), and helping to give the travel industry a voice on Capitol Hill.
As the global sales manager for the Americas and Oceana for Travel Oregon, Lisa is no stranger to asking for partnerships with other states. “More likely than not, travelers are going up the West Coast,” she said, “and we want to keep our product fresh and creative.”
Being creative and out-of-the-box appears to be one of Lisa’s specialties. To help not only Travel Oregon but other state DMOs, Lisa and Travel Oregon work with tour operators to help increase the operators’ reach on social media, developing videos and contests that increase awareness for tour operators booking trips. Lisa feels technology is “huge” in travel. “People are using social media to talk about their trips,” she notes. “If we don’t integrate it, in order to develop new products and services, we will fall short.”
Lisa has also made strides for the industry by visiting Washington, D.C., to give a voice to those working in tourism—especially when the government shut down in late 2013. “That is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “I thought it would be hard, but everyone on Capitol Hill took the time to see us and was welcoming and made sure we talked to the right people.”
Throughout her years with Travel Oregon, Lisa has learned much through her experiences and through working to understand tour operators and the challenges they’re facing with the changing generations and the government.
“You just don’t appreciate what tour operators to do make dream vacations happen,” Lisa said. “I didn’t really get it until I started working here. I’m so appreciative of being in this business, and I would love to talk to anyone who has questions. Pick up the phone or send me an e-mail!”
Lisa Itel was nominated as one of the Top Ten Next Gens in the January 2014 issue of Groups Today magazine. Click here to learn more about the Top Ten, and stay tuned to our website for more in-depth profiles on these innovative people in the group travel industry.
Know a group travel professional making an impact on the industry with a fresh, progressive perspective? Nominate him or her for 2017's Top 10 Next Gen here.