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Meeting Leaders: Raymond Valles

Executive Profile

Name: Raymond Valles

Title: Senior Convention Sales Manager

Organization: Visit El Paso

Location: Austin, Texas

Birthplace: El Paso, Texas

Education: Bachelor’s degree in restaurant, hotel and institutional management from Texas Tech University

Career History

Assistant Guest Services Manager, Four Seasons Austin Hotel (2012–2014)

Resort Assistant Manager, Four Seasons Resort Orlando (2014–2017)

Front Desk Manager, Four Seasons Resort, Whistler (2017–2018)

Senior Convention Sales Manager, Visit El Paso (2019–present)

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Raymond Valles came to his career in tourism and hospitality by way of the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

As a college student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Valles participated in Disney University, a unique internship program, as part of his degree in restaurant, hotel and institutional management. The program brings students to work and learn at Disney theme parks, getting hands-on experience in Disney’s special brand of hospitality as they earn college credit.

“I was exposed to pretty much hospitality on steroids by working at Disney for four years as part of the college program in Orlando,” said Valles.

Though Valles worked on the food and beverage side during college, he went the hotel route post grad, expanding his hospitality experience by working at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin as part of its Manager in Training program. During the program he oversaw housekeeping; later he became assistant manager and oversaw the guest services area.

“I was also selected to participate in various task forces, where people are sent to problem solve during a high volume time,” said Valles. “I went to Vail, Colorado, during the busy winter season, then to open the new Four Seasons at Disney World in Orlando, where I married my Disney and Four Seasons experiences. I worked on task forces at the downtown New York property; Whistler, Canada; Maui, Hawaii — not such bad places to live right out of college!”

Soon after, Valles settled in Austin, the hometown of his soon-to-be wife. While there, he found an opportunity on LinkedIn for Visit El Paso, offering a remote sales position in Austin.

“I reached out to their HR team and less than 24 hours later, I had the job,” said Valles. “I started with them in July of 2019, only to be furloughed with the rest of the team in early 2020.”

When he started, his market was local to Texas organizations only — but that all changed when he was the only staffer who returned to the job after the furlough period ended. Valles not only began working with national organization sales and got a promotion to senior convention sales manager, he also became extremely proactive in promoting El Paso.

“I told my boss to get me in front of as many people as possible — I became a road warrior and did 18 conferences in 2021 to get our name out there,” said Valles. “I felt that cities like ours had a very small window of opportunity to make a big impact. And now we’re reaping the benefits, including the opportunity to host Small Market Meetings in 2026.”

Valles says part of what makes El Paso so easy to promote is that the city has undergone so many positive changes over the last five years or so.

“We’ve opened up numerous hotels and the convention center had a refresh recently,” said Valles. “We were like the little city that could — but the funny thing is, we’re the sixth-largest city in Texas. My personal motivation in this position is that for more than 30 years of my life growing up, I heard about El Paso’s potential — and I want to reach that potential.

Tips from Raymond Valles

For young leaders potentially looking to start a career in hospitality, try as many roles as you can during college or right after. Hospitality is not just hotels and restaurants.

• Network, network, network.

• Cater your services or sales pitch to the individual’s needs instead of having a “one size fits all” approach.