Name: Luke Gilliam
Title: Business Development Manager
Organization: Visit Casper
Location: Casper, Wyoming
Birthplace: Austin, Texas
Education:Bachelor’s degree in communication and leadership application from Colorado Christian University
Career History: Leadership development coach; joined Visit Casper in January 2020
Though he couldn’t have seen it coming, Luke Gilliam chose an unlikely time to start working in the events industry: He joined Visit Casper as a business development manager in January 2020, just at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic reaching the United States.
“The learning curve was very different than it would normally have been because as you’re reaching out to people, the first conversation you’re having is centered around what safety protocols will make them feel comfortable instead of what their group may need,” he said. “But one of the things we pride ourselves on as a smaller city in Wyoming is the relationships we have within the city, the county, our community partners; and because of that, every group, regardless of size, will have the best possible trip that is catered to their needs.”
Gilliam grew up in Austin, Texas, and went to Colorado Christian University in Denver on a basketball scholarship. Unlike many of his peers in the tourism world, Gilliam didn’t toil away in hospitality jobs. Instead, he studied communication and leadership application, a major that allows many students to segue into nonprofit or philanthropic work, public service or business uses.
“I knew very deeply that I wanted to help people accomplish something in a work role,” he said. “I really enjoy the opportunity to help people find experiences in different locations that they’ve never been before.”
Gilliam met his wife while at Colorado Christian, where she was on the university’s women’s basketball team. With her teaching degree, she was offered a job in Casper, which also happened to be her hometown, and the couple decided that after spending their college years in a bustling city, they would like to put down roots in a small town.
One of the most important things he believes his role at Visit Casper has taught him to do and what he’d suggest anyone interested in working in tourism do is learn to appreciate all the aspects of a destination, even those that don’t naturally attract you.
“You have to find a respect or appreciation for reasons your town is unique,” he said. “It’s one way to learn about people that make up this world and share an experience with them.”
With an affinity for sports, Gilliam said he isn’t naturally drawn to the art scene but that if he hadn’t tried to get acquainted with Casper’s museums, galleries, and artists, he wouldn’t be able to do one of the key aspects of his job: introducing visitors to one of the things that makes the town so special. For Gilliam, this applies to every interest and arena: Understanding the importance of learning about what makes a person want to live in Casper has in turn created opportunities to share insider tips with visitors.
“People come to Wyoming to get away from the grind of big-city life and to be in the great outdoors,” said Gilliam. “We’re proud of our destination and the experiences we help create.”
Tips from Luke Gilliam
• Utilize relationships: As a local CVB, we work very hard to build strong relationships with community stakeholders, unique businesses, hotels and attractions. Lean on these relationships.
• Dream big: Your local CVBs get excited about new ideas, so if your group has a bold idea, we would love to make that dream a reality.
• Make us better: Every CVB wants to be impressive and exciting. Your feedback helps us get there. Whether you choose our destination or not, let us know what working with us was like.