Name: William McBroom
Title: Director of Conference Sales
Organization: St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau
Location: St. Augustine, Florida
Birthplace: Jackson, Mississippi
Education: Certified Destination Management Executive
• Sheraton Anchorage Hotel and Spa
• Charlotte Marriott Executive Park Hotel
• Westin Poinsett
• Hilton Charlotte University Place
• Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel
• World Golf Village Renaissance Resort and Convention Center
For William McBroom, the road to being director of conference sales at the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau was a winding one that started out with working at a friend’s restaurant in Alaska. When the restaurant burned down, he moved on to work at Josephines rooftop restaurant at the Sheraton Anchorage — at the time, the city’s largest meeting space and convention center — where he became the director of catering.
“Taking the time to learn the fundamentals and doing the work in convention services, like catering or conference sales, will serve you very well,” said McBroom. “The ground floor of the next level is that you have a true understanding of what goes into an event.”
After 10 years, he moved his family cross-country to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he worked as the director of sales and the director of catering at Interstate Hotels. After almost a decade there, he moved into a different arena as a broker for residential real estate, only to be met with the crushing financial crisis of 2008-09. The hold on the real-estate industry forced him to return to the hotel industry at the age of 56 with a 10-year employment gap in the industry.
“The reputation that I’d established through the hard work earlier helped me move into subsequent better jobs that strictly would not have happened but for relationships that were built earlier in my career,” said McBroom. “It’s just an incredible eye-opener for the value of those relationships that you don’t understand until later on.”
He was able to re-enter the hotel sphere, eventually making the move to St. Augustine, Florida, in 2013 as the director of sales and marketing at the Renaissance World Golf Village, coordinating the resort’s meetings and overseeing sales and marketing. During his time there, he developed a close relationship with the St. Augustine VCB, which led to his moving to the tourism side of the business. “It has been a dream job for me,” said McBroom. “It is a fantastic position and a great destination, and it’s been great helping bring our partners business and come full circle with those exploring the destination.”
St. Augustine is a one-of-a-kind destination because of its small size — there are only 14,000 full-time residents — and its historically significant landmarks, unique architecture and independent shops and restaurants.
“We’re the nation’s oldest city, founded by the Spanish explorer Menendez in 1565,” said McBroom. “We work hard to not just throw out cookie-cutter proposals but to understand the client’s needs and then give them exactly the experience they’re looking for. Another element of having a smaller destination is that we have close relationships with any of the attractions or event spaces — we can contact them directly on short notice.”
McBroom has built his career on cultivating those personal relationships.
“It’s an eye-opener to realize how those personal relationships you build are the key in your career,” said McBroom. “We don’t use a group marketing approach in St. Augustine. Our main method is by personal relationships that are built at trade shows and through networking with existing contacts and referrals from planners we have worked with. It’s not a canned presentation or an automated process, and it’s a real advantage to be able to tailor everything for the event based on that relationship.”
Tips from William McBroom
• Use your CVB. We provide great services at no cost, know all the properties and the destination inside out and can find the best options for your group within a destination.
• Explore the destination to find unique options for off-site events and outings to keep the meeting fresh and exciting. For special destinations like ours, we encourage attendees to arrive early or stay after to relax and explore.
• Always take advantage of the local culinary and bar scene to make sure your attendees have an unforgettable experience.