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Meeting Leaders: Amy Boek

It might seem that holding a meeting on a Florida island is a recipe for distraction — just imagine trying to focus on spreadsheets or earnings reports while the sun beats down outside your window on the grey sands of the Atlantic coast. Gulls fly overhead, and scents of perfectly seasoned low country boil waft in from the next room. But these signature touches and vacation-vibe offerings are exactly what Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau CMO Amy Boek believes take business events from good to great.

Boek’s own enchantment with the island she calls home came through in every answer she gave during a March phone interview. From kayaking on the weekends to meeting friends and family for dinner at mom-and-pop seafood spots in the old downtown, the lifestyle Boek described sounded postcard-perfect. It’s no wonder she’s been so successful at selling the destination to meeting planners and tourists alike for the past 15 years.

Born and raised in Kentucky and a graduate of Murray State University, Boek said she always dreamed of living near the sea. As part of her coursework in public relations and marketing during college, she completed an internship on Amelia Island. When a job opened up after she graduated to work in real-estate marketing for the Amelia Island Plantation, one of the island’s premier resorts and property groups, she jumped at the chance to leave the Bluegrass for the beach.

Boek later transferred to the resort side of the business. During her tenure, the hotel was purchased by Omni Hotels and underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation.

“The resort had always been beautiful, but it was amazing to see the transformation from what it was into what it always had the potential of being,” she said. “It was very cool to get to be a part of that evolution.”

Boek stayed at the resort for 10 years before transitioning to the destination side of the table as director of marketing at the Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2014. She was later promoted to her current position as chief marketing officer.

“We don’t have a convention center on the island, so we work directly with the various properties when it comes to bookings and organizing events,” said Boek. “It definitely played to my advantage to come from the hotel side. When you’ve always worked on the DMO side, there are logistical and operational things that hotels are thinking about that you might not readily understand.”

As CMO of a “lean and nimble” team of five full-time employees, Boek does everything from spearheading the island’s new augmented reality marketing to meeting with local businesses and hotel properties in order to help them maximize tourism profits.

“Florida beach beauty plus Southern hospitality” is her go-to description of the island’s appeal to prospective visitors. “You have a lot at your fingertips in a small destination,” she said. “While you have a significant number of hotel rooms and venues that can host large events, everything on the island is within a 13-mile radius. It’s very easy to get to and to get around.”

Meeting attendees also have an easy time getting to the destination; Jacksonville International Airport is less than 30 minutes away.

“You can be checked in and on the beach within an hour of landing,” said Boek.

Executive Profile

Name: Amy Boek

Title: Chief Marketing Officer

Organization: Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau

Location: Amelia Island, Florida

Birthplace: Paducah, Kentucky

Education: B.S. in public relations and marketing from Murray State University

Career History: Boek previously served as director of marketing for the Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and marketing manager for the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort.

Meeting Tips from Amy Boek

Use the CVB or the DMO in the market; by going directly to the property, you can miss out on some of the expertise that the CVB can provide.

• Keep an open mind. Instead of going to the thing that’s the most convenient, think about what would be the most memorable and engaging experience for your organization.

Think outside of the box. Whether you’re a meeting planner or on the destination side, always ask, “How can I innovate?” Find a niche and deliver the unexpected.