Wherever we are, the staff of the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is representing Denton. Here at home, on the road, on Facebook or other social media forums, our individual selves are linked to the CVB. We are keenly aware of this fact, and each of us wears the mantle of that responsibility with honor and loyalty to our original independent brand on and off the clock.

As I scribe my column this week, I am attending the Texas Travel Industry Association’s (TTIA) annual Texas Travel Summit. Here, I reconnect face-to-face with colleagues I have known throughout my destination-marketing career. And I meet new, young professionals with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Together we explore important industry topics including travel trends, marketing and promotions, best practices, new products and services, and advocacy targeted at prospering Texas and every one of our communities.

And it is here on this closing night of the 2014 Summit (September 30) that the gavel will pass into my hand, and I will become Chair of this important organization.

Travel is Texas’ second largest industry, behind only petroleum. Travel’s vital role in our state’s economy has engaged a “who’s who in Texas” TTIA membership since the association’s inception some four decades ago. Among its more than 750 member organizations are giants including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, The Dallas Cowboys, The Texas Rangers, Landry’s Corporation, J.W. Marriott, Texas Monthly, Texas Highways, Six Flags, Sea World, TxDOT, and the Office of the Governor.

I am a firm believer that you get out of anything what you put into it. The CVB’s active role in TTIA has served Denton well. Denton has joined the ranks among its impressive list of influencers. We have a seat at the proverbial table, one that requires extra time and effort but that gleans meaningful attention. Denton is now recognized as truly viable among Texas destinations, a progressive, aggressive city employing our amenities in order to realize the benefit as a player, not a benchwarmer, in this industry so imperative to Texas’ economic health and wealth.

I am both humbled and honored to represent our city in this capacity. I realize, however, that I am Denton in this role and not just Kim Phillips. Our talented CVB team members have worked tirelessly in their specific areas of expertise and discipline to establish and deliver the Original Independent Denton brand. Our board and hospitality partners have embraced the brand and work in tandem with us to ensure its credibility. Our citizens believe in it and have emerged as ambassadors that perpetuate that we are exactly who we say we are. These are the reasons Denton is at the helm of Texas travel. I am merely the face of all of these in this role.

Every member of the CVB team participates in tourism-oriented organizations in this same manner. Some of these are local groups, others are statewide, one or two even national. The relationships built in these forums and the resulting visibility for Denton garner recognition for our city that money cannot buy. Here’s a stellar example. The Governor’s Office of Tourism has sent numerous travel writers, travel shows and familiarization tours from around the world to visit Denton’s award-winning horse country tour.  Just recently, they dispatched a representative from their own ranks just to experience what “they” are hearing about Denton at the Capital. We have become that crucial on the Texas tourism radar. This is no coincidence or stroke of luck, but a direct outcome of our team members’ integrity and active participation where it counts.

Another example I am very proud of occurred at the Travel Summit today. In an educational session about marketing in the social media realm, the presenter used Denton’s brand, website, and social media strategy as an example for how to do it right. We are known for what is going on in Denton and the quality campaigns we execute to tell the world about it.

Our team performs over-and-above. We are present, visible, and known. There is no doubt in any of our minds that this activity is as important as anything we do and directly correlates to the steady rise in visitor activity, more than 11 percent by year-end 2013, we are seeing in Denton.

In every situation, the CVB staff knows who we are. We are all of us. And this coming year at TTIA will be the same. I know who I am. I am Denton.