Name: Darcie Holte
Title: Director of Sales
Organization: Destination Lake Winnebago Region
Location: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Birthplace: Marshfield, Wisconsin
Education: Some college but mostly work experience
• Underwriting assistant in commercial insurance (1992-2008)
• Registrar assistant, Moraine Park Technical College (2008-2013)
• Administrative assistant to school superintendent (2014-2018)
• Visitor center rep and currently director of sales at Destination Lake Winnebago (2018-present)
Darcie Holte doesn’t feel like a salesperson.
Though her title at Destination Lake Winnebago Region is director of sales, her daily work feels more like sharing insider info she has picked up living in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, for 31 years.
“I don’t even feel like my position has the word ‘sales’ in it,” said Holte. “I just feel like a big cheerleader for the region.”
Holte grew up in central Wisconsin in a town called Marshfield but after college moved to the Fond du Lac area, where she has primarily worked in roles as an administrative assistant. Five years ago, she took a position at Destination Lake Winnebago Region and was only at the job for a few months before her boss, Fond du Lac Area Convention and Visitors Bureau president Craig Molitor, encouraged her to apply for a sales role that had opened up.
“I was scared to death — sales was something I had never done before,” said Holte. “But Craig had all the confidence in the world in me. He told me I had nothing to lose by going for it, and he knew that my years of living here made it a place that was so easy to talk about. Here I am five years later.”
As the pandemic disruptions fade into the past, Holte says this year has the same excitement as her inaugural year in the role. Fond du Lac has a population of only about 45,000, but while meeting planners in the past were looking to markets like Milwaukee and Madison, many are now looking to smaller places like the Lake Winnebago Region, says Holte.
“We have really unique spaces, and people are just blown away by what we have to offer,” said Holte. “I want to show people the things that we have that are different that are worth coming here for.”
As an example, she recently created an itinerary for a board member retreat that included the region’s most unusual locales, including a goat farm and creamery in a pastoral setting. But the meeting also featured a stay at a recently renovated historic hotel, as well as a distillery tour, a cheese tasting and visiting a winery that’s converted its former horse barn into meeting space.
It’s Holte’s familiarity with all of these local amenities — and the people behind them — that have made her a success.
“Living here for so long, I know what is going on — when things are being built, when businesses are being developed,” she said. “And because I have relationships with the owners, it makes it seamless when I bring meeting planners to visit.”
Putting these itineraries together for meeting planners is not just part of the job for Holte — it’s what she really loves to do.
“You have to gain the trust of the community to be able to gain the trust of the planners,” she said. “The only way you can gain that trust is to really be embedded in the local culture,” she said.
Holte considers Fond du Lac (and Wisconsin in general) to be a well-kept secret that just needs a little more exposure to the rest of the world for people to appreciate a hidden gem that’s in their own backyard.
“We’re not a cookie-cutter CVB, and we don’t look at our meeting planners as a dime a dozen,” she said. “I take so much pride in what I do, and I think when people experience it here, they’ll go back and tell other people about what a great experience it was.”
Tips from Darcie Holte
• Personal connections make for the most successful events.
• Find out who at the CVB is the resource for the community. I have a lot of resources to help make your planning easier!
• Ask, ask, ask! There are so many hidden ideas or abilities that each CVB has or can offer.