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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Meeting Leaders: Brooke Kastner

Executive Profile 

Name: Brooke Kastner

Title: Sales and Marketing Manager

Organization: Auburn-Opelika Tourism

Location: Auburn-Opelika, Alabama

Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama

Education: Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Auburn University

Career History: Fourteen years at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Resort Spa in various positions, including director of sales and marketing. She joined Auburn-Opelika Tourism in June 2020.

Brooke Kastner’s career trajectory is like a playbook for those wanting to work in the tourism industry. As a student at Auburn University, she majored in public relations and did her internship at the Opelika Chamber of Commerce.

“I had always liked the marketing aspects of PR, but then learning more about that side of the hospitality industry, I just got the hospitality/tourism bug,” said Kastner, who is now the sales and marketing manager at Auburn-Opelika Tourism. “When I graduated, I started working at the Auburn Marriott Resort and Spa, where I worked for 14 years.”

Auburn, Alabama, was not just the place she decided to go to college; it was also the place she decided to make home. Along with its neighboring sister city, Opelika, Alabama, it has the type of charming, small-town feel that makes people want to stay and build a life there. What better way to show her love for her adopted hometown than to work in local tourism?

“It’s the best of both worlds in one area together,” she said. “Tourism has always been a passion of mine since I was young. I’ve always loved to travel, and so it was a natural progression for me to go into hospitality and tourism.”

Kastner was born in Mobile, Alabama, and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, and after coming to Auburn for college in 1994, she has been there ever since. Her husband owns a business in Opelika and her son attends Auburn city schools.

In her tenure at the Marriott Resort and Spa, Kastner started her career as a restaurant manager, moved into being an event manager and then transitioned into sales. During that time, she learned how each of the roles within the resort functioned and how they interacted, experience that would prove invaluable in the position she holds now. At the hotel, she led the group sales, catering sales and event management departments, and she planned and managed all the resort’s marketing and advertising efforts, including the hotel, the conference center, the food and beverage outlets and the spa. During her time there, the resort won multiple awards. With such a diverse and expansive toolbox, her skill set made the transition to working in the tourism office a natural one.

“I did a little bit of everything there,” she said. “Most of my time there, I was the director of sales and marketing, until I accepted a job with Auburn-Opelika Tourism as the sales and marketing manager last year.” She likens the jobs to each other because in both roles she has acted as a resource to encourage people to take advantage of the activities both cities offer.

In her spare time, Kastner loves to travel and cook, but she is also active in the community. She volunteers with the Junior League of Lee County and the Opelika Rotary Club and has been on the board of the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau.

For those who want to pursue a career in tourism, Kastner advises looking at hotels and tourism as partners that work together. “When I saw that tourism was the next step I wanted to take from hotels, I just tried to learn as much as I could from the tourism folks by participating in events and asking questions,” she said. “Knowing the ins and outs of both sides of things, I could use my experience and transition easily.”

Tips from Brooke Kastner

Use all the resources that the area’s DMO has to offer, from building itineraries to assisting with answering questions at your group’s registration.

Try something fun and different in each new place you travel. Every community, no matter how small or large, has something worth experiencing to enhance your trip.

Incorporate some local flair into your group’s experience. Whether it’s a fun break during a conference or something locally made in a welcome amenity, it will make a lasting impression that your guests will remember and talk about.