One of my favorite things is showing off Denton.  It hits the top of my list when I get to show off our city to my peers and colleagues.

Since last September, I have had the honor of serving as Chair of the Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA) board of directors.  TTIA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Texas by strengthening travel and tourism.  It is a nonprofit organization that unites businesses, organizations, associations and individuals throughout Texas who are dedicated to developing Texas tourism to its fullest potential. Its membership consists of airlines, hoteliers, CVBs, chambers of commerce, attractions, retailers, restaurants, travel publications, tour operators and individuals.

TTIA is one of the premier travel associations in the nation, and definitely the mothership of the Texas travel industry.   The Chair post is a big job, but it is not without its perks for the city I represent.  One of those is hosting the TTIA Executive Board retreat, an opportunity the CVB staff and our partners seized with gusto last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Before I tell you about the original, independent Denton experiences we cooked up for them, it is worth the column inches to fill you in on just who our guests were and the entities they represent:  Davis Phillips, Owner and CEO of Phillips Entertainment in San Antonio; Jim Brothers, Director of Marketing & Entertainment at Six Flags Over Texas/Hurricane Harbor; Casandra Matej, Director of the San Antonio CVB; Frank Morogiello, Senior Client Partner in the Dallas office of Korn Ferry; David Teel, President and CEO of TTIA; Allan Hughes, General Manager of Traders Village in Grand Prairie; John Hudak, Partner, Publisher and Chief Marketing Officer of Madden Media in Tuscon, AZ; John Rolfe, Chief Administrative Officer of Houston First; Susan Skaggs, Director of Civic Affairs at Dallas Cowboys Football Club & AT&T Stadium; Nanci Liles, Director of the Abilene CVB; Dan Decker, President of Sea World in San Antonio; Branden Steinmann, Assistant Vice President and Managing Director of Government Relations at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; Steve Atkins, President of the Atkins Group in San Antonio; Ernie Loeffler, Director of the Fredericksburg CVB; Arthur Coulombe, General Manager of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa; Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez, Director of the San Marcos CVB, Diann Bayes, TTIA Senior Vice President of Member Services & Development; Homero Lucero, TTIA Senior Vice President, Government Relations; and Jennifer Roush, TTIA Senior Director of Operations.

TTIA Ex Bd JUNE 2015 LSA-WEB

This is an impressive assembly of Texas’ top travel industry leaders.  They were in Denton to retreat and work on strategic planning by day.  But during non-meeting hours, CVB staff stayed true to our mission and managed their Denton experience to its fullest potential.

The group lodged and met at the Best Western Premier Denton hotel, a TTIA member business themselves, and they rolled out the red carpet.  The hotel sponsored happy hour Sunday evening at Harvest House including live jazz by the Harvest House Band.  Decked out in “Dentoning” T’s, the group “dentoned” like super stars hanging with the locals.  TTIA sponsored dinner at LSA where LSA and DentonRadio.com co-hosted a Denton-staple “song swap” featuring Ellie Meyer, Chris Caruvana and Matt Ingram.  By evening’s end, the buzz was, “What a vibe!  We had no idea!”  Proof once again that the Denton experience must be had to be understood.

Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream sponsored the afternoon meeting break on Monday.  Bob Moses and Ken Willis laid out an incredible, scrumptious banana split Sunday bar at the hotel.

Monday night, we mixed our visiting VIPs with some of our local VIPs and treated them to a Horse Country Tour at Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses followed by a chuck wagon dinner and mounted shooting demonstration at Oak Meadow Ranch with Allan and Renay Watt.  DentonRadio.com sponsored more Denton music during dinner, ranch-appropriate acoustic country tunes by Michael Plumlee.

Suffice it to say, we knocked their socks off!  Some of these folks may never have gotten to really do Denton.  Now that they have, we’ve created new ambassadors of the highest order.  With the influence these VIPs wield, our guests and our local leaders, I have no doubt there are many more who will discover Denton in the days to come.

Thanks for visiting, TTIA.  And thanks to our partners and locals who did not disappoint.  You completely delivered on our brand promise, creativity at its best.  Original Independent Denton has a reputation, a great one, and these folks now know why.