Ashley Wilson, CSEE, 30, works in Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a sports and events sales manager at Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission. As a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree, Wilson discusses her passion for the events industry.
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What I do: I’m a destination liaison for my clients. If a sports client/rights holder has a dream, I help walk them through what it would take to make the dream happen along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Sometimes that involves discussions with city officials, help with city permits or connecting them with a local venue. Once the date and location are confirmed, I work with our area-lodging properties to find the best rates for the client’s event.
How I got here: Upon receiving my degree in communication studies, I emailed the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission to see if they had any openings. I started as a part-time intern with no background in the hospitality industry. I started a year later as a full-time sales manager for groups and sports and have been with our DMO for more than eight years.
Greatest career accomplishment: In December 2014, I connected with Mike Clark, owner of Junction 311 in North Carolina, about his interest in creating a new marathon in Gulf Shores called the Big Beach Marathon. The inaugural year was in 2016, which had almost 600 registered runners and produced $144,000 in estimated economic impact. In 2019, the event had more than 1,000 registered runners and produced $649,000 in estimated economic impact to our destination during off-season.
What I do outside of work: I’m a busy mom of two toddlers: a 4 year old and 1 year old. On the weekends, our family spends most of our time in the back bays and rivers along the Alabama Gulf Coast. We go out on the boat, kayak or just spend time swimming.