“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: Claudia Vecchio, director, department of tourism and cultural affairs, State of Nevada; and Jorge Franz, vice president of international group sales and tourism, Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Claudia Vecchio: “I’ve played the piano since the age of five and my aspiration in college was to be a jazz keyboardist or orchestra conductor. When it became apparent I didn’t have the talent to exceed at either, I switched to communications. Upon graduation, I worked for a PR firm where one of my first clients was Princess Cruises. I’ve always had an interest in travel and eventually it occurred to me that I could integrate my marketing skills with my passion for travel. During my almost 30 years in the travel marketing business, I’ve held a number of positions including director of tourism for the state of Ohio. My background has come full circle as director of tourism and cultural affairs for the state of Nevada.”
Jorge Franz: ”I was working for the local cable company in Houston when I got a phone call from the Greater Houston CVB. They were looking for a Spanish speaker to represent Houston in the Mexican market. I was so ignorant about the field that I actually asked if they would pay for my travel! I interviewed and was offered the job on the spot. I then accepted the job on the spot and my new boss asked me if I had ever heard of a show called ‘Pow Wow.’ I had not and she asked if I could attend right away. The next day, I was on my way to Orlando for the 2001 show. I almost fainted when I saw the size of the trade show…and then I realized this was going to be a great move for me when they closed down Disney World for the attendees. I could not believe how lucky I was. I still can’t believe how lucky I’ve been!”