Name: Ed Kirby
Title: National Sales Executive
Organization: Visit Henderson
Location: Henderson, Nevada
Birthplace: Long Island, New York
Career History: Various hotel service jobs in the early 1990s; began sales career in 1994 at the Rio Suite Hotel and Casino, followed by sales positions at other area hotels; on staff at Visit Henderson since 2003
Ed Kirby, national sales executive at Visit Henderson in Nevada, may have been born in New York, but having grown up in the area, “I live and breathe Henderson,” he said. “Our mayor really cares about community, so we get to offer something different from Vegas. We have outdoor adventure, a walkable downtown, and it’s all about family.”
Kirby has held nearly every position in the hotel industry in the past 25 years; he was a busboy, a valet, a bellman and a waiter before learning the ropes in sales.
“I was a bellman at the Rio and befriended the director of sales, and he actually set up a desk in his office and taught me everything about sales,” said Kirby. “I had to take a pay cut and still had to provide for my family and had to wait tables at night.”
He followed his mentor to another hotel before working a series of sales jobs around various area hotels. Opportunities to advance his career always came his way via word-of-mouth.
“I built a name for myself, and all my jobs came either from people I had worked with at another property or they had heard of me, but it was all relationship driven.”
He credits those years of working in hospitality with learning how to treat people to give them the best experience.
While looking to make his own hotel sales team more robust, be heard by chance that the director of sales position at the Henderson CVB was open. He applied, got hired and has been there for 17 years, working not only on meeting sales but also a host of other events that Henderson hosts for the community, such as its Independence Day parade and various arts events.
“A big part of what I do are meetings, because that’s my background,” said Kirby. “We find that one reason people stay with us in Henderson is for networking purposes. In Las Vegas, you may lose your people on the strip, while we have boutique-style hotels in Henderson and your group will stay together.”
He also noted that meetings in the 150-to-200-participants range tend to get less attention in a city like Las Vegas compared with much larger groups. But in Henderson, that number will occupy most of a hotel and becomes an important element for them.
Kirby stressed that his hard work and determination are what landed him where he is today. While he worked as a bellman at the Rio, for example, he also did roofing during the day, and he was detailing all the Rio’s limos and buses.
“I was always one of those guys who would just grind it out,” he said. “I worked hard, and I think people noticed that. The director of sales liked my attitude and my work ethic, and that’s how I got promoted into sales.”
Kirby is Henderson’s point man for meeting planners because he has a deep familiarity with the city’s best-kept secrets and can create exclusive opportunities for events.
“If you want a rooftop venue, a wine cellar buyout or an outdoor excursion, we can get you all those things because we’re the professionals,” he said. “I’m the guy you want to come to with all those questions.”
Tips from Ed Kirby
• Your CVB contact is the key to unlocking the hidden gems of Henderson, including areas such as the Booze district and the Water Street district, both of which are full of unique venues and incredible restaurants.
• If you’re looking for the best time of year to come, the answer is anytime. Spring and fall have gorgeous weather, but if you’re looking for the best rates, check out midweek, summer and holiday availability.