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Meeting Leaders: Shawn Stidham

Executive Profile

Name: Shawn Stidham

Title: Vice President of Sales    

Organization: Travel Butler County

Location: Butler County, Ohio

Birthplace: Middletown, Ohio

Education: International College of Broadcasting, BA Communication Arts, 1992

Career History:

Prime Hospitality: director of sales (2000–2005)

Middletown Hotel Management: director of sales (2005–2008)

Concord Hospitality: director of sales/general manager (2008–2019)

Travel Butler County: vice president of sales (2019–present)

Shawn Stidham thought his dream job would be on the radio. But then he discovered hospitality.

As a kid, Shawn Stidham was obsessed with sports and radio. He dreamed of being a disc jockey and studied broadcast journalism at the International College of Broadcasting in Dayton. But radio stations and DJ jobs were changing; consolidation, fewer jobs, and inconvenient moves became commonplace. So Stidham parlayed his love for sports into working at an athletic club. He befriended a member who worked at a Doubletree hotel in Cincinnati who approached him about taking a sales role at a Doubletree in Dayton. Stidham had an aversion to being a “salesman,” though.

“My first thought was, ‘I don’t want anything to do with sales’ — I didn’t want to be one of those stereotypical ‘I’m here to change your life’ used car salesmen,” said Stidham. “I ended up meeting with one of the general managers. We hit it off, and he was an incredible mentor to me. He helped me change my mentality about what sales was. In hospitality, it’s about taking care of people, about operating from a mindset of answering their questions and making genuine connections with people.”

In his role at the Dayton Doubletree, Stidham cut his teeth as a SMERF sales manager and had the opportunity to host NCAA teams and entertainers like Chaka Khan and Rick Springfield.

“It was a fun time and was really great for my development,” he said. “Hosting so many celebrities was a memorable experience.”

After a few years, Stidham was recruited to be director of sales at the AmeriSuites Cincinnati North. He made connections with people who were influential in his career and began training other sales managers across Ohio. When AmeriSuites came under new ownership, he followed his general manager, Mike Dyer, to a smaller hotel company called Middletown Hotel Management, which operates properties like Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn. He worked there for three years before connecting with Raleigh-based Concord Hospitality, which was opening a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Hamilton, Ohio.

“My name came up because I had always lived in Butler County, where Hamilton is; I had family that lived there and knew the area well,” said Stidham. “Hamilton was not really known for having any hotels, but this Courtyard by Marriott project was different because they were working with the Hamilton Community Foundation and ultimately were part of revitalizing the city.”

At the time, Hamilton didn’t boast many attractions, but with the construction of the hotel, the city had a new venue to host events and conferences. That attracted additional development and businesses, as well as the construction of a huge indoor sports complex, among other attractions.

“Taking that position turned out to be one of the best things in my career — Hamilton’s amazing revitalization has brought in great leadership, great people, companies, businesses, events and attractions, and I got to be a part of that,” Stidham said. “I was part of a small team, but Hamilton is continuing its incredible trajectory of being a cool place to live, work and play. It remains something I’m very proud of.”

Stidham was at the Courtyard by Marriott for roughly 11 years, during which he was promoted to the role of general manager. Later, he was given the opportunity to go to Dayton to be the director of sales for the Marriott at the University of Dayton (also a Concord property). After only a couple months in Dayton, though, he was approached by Travel Butler County to be its vice president of sales in 2019.

“It was the dream job, because it was an opportunity to be back in Butler County, which includes several cities I know. And I’d be in a position where I’d be working with all the hotels,” said Stidham.

Though Stidham joined the Travel Butler County team just before the COVID pandemic, the organization was able to pivot and reorient its direction temporarily without having to lay off or even furlough any of its staff, while still serving the community and its businesses. Stidham has been in his role for almost five years now and couldn’t be happier.

“I said when I got hired that it was a dream job, and that’s still true — I absolutely love it.”

Tips from Shawn Stidham

• Bring a CVB in early when planning an event. Share what the goals are, and a CVB will be able to advise on which partners would best help achieve those goals and have creative suggestions on ways to enhance the event that you had not thought of.

• Take care of people. It’s the basic mission of hospitality. When you operate from a mindset of being a resource and genuinely wanting to help someone without expecting anything in return, it builds trust and strengthens relationships.

• Plan for the unexpected. Every event will have something happen that you did not plan for. Expect it. Take care of it and then breathe. Plus, it will likely give you a great story to share down the road!