Name: Gina Gemberling
Title: Vice President of Sales and Services
Organization: Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
Birthplace: Emden, Illinois
Education: Patricia Stevens College
Career History: Spent several years in the hotel industry and moved to the Springfield, Illinois, CVB in 1993. Accepted the position of vice president of sales and services for the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau in January 2018.
Gina Gemberling, vice president of sales and service at the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, got her start working in the hotel industry but quickly realized she wanted visitors to get a more robust view of the city, not just what the hotel had to offer.
“I was attracted to the CVB because you’re selling the whole destination,” said Gemberling. “Instead of one place, you have multiple options within the destination.”
Gemberling made the move to the CVB in Springfield, Illinois, in 1993, starting in a sales position. After 26 years there, she became the organization’s executive director.
“I worked my way up through just about every position there,” she said. She made the move to Little Rock just two years ago. “One of the things I love most about my role is that you’re constantly meeting new people,” she said. “You could be meeting with a faith-based group one day and helping plan a sporting event the next — you’re always doing something different, and that keeps it interesting.”
Though the move represents a significant change, she’s enjoying learning all about her new hometown.
“What I love about Little Rock is how the community has invested in itself,” she said. “What we hear from visitors is that they’re pleasantly surprised about how much there is to do and see and how nice our meeting facilities are.”
One of the greatest advantages Gemberling enjoys in Little Rock is that the CVB owns and operates the State House Convention Center and the Robinson Center, a performing arts and conference complex. In most cities, the CVB and meeting facilities are separate entities.
“You don’t always have the chance to operate the facility,” she said. “Our operations team is right there in the same building, and it’s great to have that type of control.”
The CVB also operates an amphitheater and several small pavilions that dot the 11-block Riverfront Park. The area is bustling with activity and is known as the centerpiece of the downtown area.
Gemberling loves the diversity of activities for both visitors and residents alike that Little Rock has to offer.
“It’s been fun to learn about everything there is to do and see,” she said. “There are great options for not only visitors but for the community as well.”
The Riverfront Park area is home to the River Market, the unofficial cultural hub of the city. It features an indoor farmers market, several international restaurants and boutiques. It’s also a popular place for live music — held in the pavilion, the park or the amphitheater — and is where the city’s festivals are held.
“Little Rock has a great food scene, too,” she said. “There are a ton of really nice locally owned places, and there are so many festivals and events in the downtown area [that] there’s always something to do and see.”
Though there are no doubt great challenges that come with relocating to a new city after being part of an organization for 26 years, Gemberling has a lot that she admires about her new home.
“What I love about Little Rock is how the community is so invested in the city,” she said.
Tips from Gina Gemberling
• Be sure to listen to the customer’s goals and objectives for the convention and be a true partner in making the convention a success by bringing in local resources to make the event in the destination a memorable one.
• Build relationships with your peers in other destinations to establish great resources and lifelong friendships.
• And most of all, enjoy the industry we work in