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Meeting Leaders: Yvonne Long

Executive Profile

Name: Yvonne Long

Title: Senior Sales Manager

Organization: Explore Branson

Location: Branson, Missouri

Birthplace: Urbana, Missouri

Education: B.S. Marketing and Management, Southwest Missouri University

Career History: 

Sales manager, Comfort Inn, Springfield, Missouri (1992-94)

Sales manager, Main Street Opry, Osage Beach, Missouri (1994-96)

Marketing director, Osage Beach Chamber of Commerce (1996-98)

Concierge, Chateau on the Lake, Branson, Missouri (2011-13)

Senior sales manager, Explore Branson (2015-present)

Some people’s life stories read like novels. Yvonne Long’s reads like a boxed set.

“I’m working on my sixth volume,” Long said. “And I have always loved traveling, so that was always a little sidebar in my life.”

Long’s path to her current role as senior sales manager at Explore Branson has been a winding one, but she cites the culmination of all her experiences as having led her to the job, which she has held since 2015. 

Long was born in Missouri but spent her childhood in Southern California. Her family frequently took road trips back to the Midwest via Route 66, which Long credits with her love of travel.

After high school, Long went to an all-girls design school in Southern California. She planned to design window displays for department stores, but a romance brought her back to Missouri, where she got married. They moved to a small town with only 15,000 residents and opened a custom drapery shop. In her spare time, Long worked with the chamber of commerce to coordinate local holiday parades on the town square.

Long then went to travel school with the intention of managing a hotel but landed in the Ozarks with the man who became her second husband. Together, they ran one of the area’s popular country music shows. Long not only worked in ticketing but also courted group tours to bring groups to the show. Eventually, she went to work at Lake of the Ozarks Chamber of Commerce as marketing director. 

“That was a lot of fun, because I got to work with a lot of the people there that had businesses and form relationships with them,” said Long. 

After her second marriage ended, Long moved to Branson expecting to quickly find work in a tourism-rich city. But it was harder than she thought. 

“I came here thinking it wouldn’t be hard to get into one of the theaters or hotels,” she said. “Not so much — everybody here loves their jobs and loves what they do and working here. It was about six years before I actually got into something related to tourism.”

Long eventually landed a job as a concierge at one of Branson’s big hotels. 

“That was great for what I do now because I really got to know the people in theaters and restaurants, and I was able to develop those relationships,” she said. “Then a position opened up at Explore Branson where I could do the sports sales side of things but also take on the SMERF market, and I developed those market segments so much they hired another person just to handle sports.”

Long likens her job to living in the middle of an amusement park. She loves building relationships with partners and being able to accommodate visitor requests thanks to her knowledge of the area. Her favorite part of the job is connecting groups to special experiences that are a great fit for their needs. 

“It’s been a winding path,” said Long. “I’ve had a varied background, but it always is someplace where there is a lot of tourism and activities. I learned all sorts of event management and got to work with business owners to make those connections.”

Tips from Yvonne Long

When looking at a new town, get in touch with the local chamber or CVB first.

• Have a phone conversation after the RFP has been shared. There is so much rich knowledge that can be gleaned, and the representative can really get the details.

• Follow up. Let the CVB know what struggles you are having with placement. They really do want to help you have the best event possible.