“How I Got My Start” is a regular segment in which we cull a couple of selections from our interviews with international operators, domestic operators, receptive operators, destinations, hotels and attractions to explore the path that led one to a career in the travel trade industry. One thing we have learned: the road to where they are is almost never the same. In this issue, we feature: Kent Elliott, destinations sales manager, Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, and Sheelagh Wylie, head of trade sales, Midway Attractions, North America, Merlin Entertainments PLC.
Kent Elliott: “Growing up in Sporting Goods Retail, I always enjoyed providing great customer service. After my stint in the USAF, I secured a position waiting tables at an upscale restaurant to help fund College. From there I was hooked on Hospitality. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, I worked at a Ranch/Resort in Jackson, Wyoming. The general manager of the resort asked me my future plans, and I basically told him that I want his chair. From there he mentored me and I was involved in all facets of the Resort for 10 years. Twenty years later, I am still at it and couldn’t be happier being in hospitality.”
Sheelagh Wylie: “My first job out of college was working for Tim Forbes, President of American Heritage Magazine, then a division of Forbes Magazine. I was a marketing assistant and then special projects coordinator specializing in advertising sections promoting state tourism. I later got a job as public information office for the new Northern Ireland Tourist Board in New York. The NITB job was fabulous because I got to spend so much time in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Britain. I spent precious time visiting with my grandparents in Bangor, County Down before and after business trips. Eventually, I became the travel trade manager at NITB and later moved on to the New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism as the international marketing manager. (She then went on to join Madame Tussauds, a Merlin property …)