Name: Desiree Everett
Title: Director of Convention Sales
Organization: Travel Portland
Location: Portland, Oregon
Birthplace: Pasco, Washington
Education: B.A. in Management and Organizational Leadership, George Fox University
Career History: Hotel sales and sales management, with positions at the Portland Hyatt, Embassy Suites and the Crowne Plaza
An Accidental Success
“Purely by accident,” said Desiree Everett, director of convention sales at Travel Portland, when asked how she fell in love with the hospitality industry. It was a part-time job she took at a Hyatt in Phoenix during college that first attracted the management major to the hotel business.
“What I loved about working in hospitality — and why I think it ended up sticking — is that I got to help people,” she said. “And at the end of the day, that’s what I enjoy.”
Following her time at the Hyatt, Everett returned to her native Pacific Northwest and worked in sales at an Embassy Suites in Portland, Oregon, then an independent boutique hotel. After that, she moved to the Crowne Plaza at the convention center before making her way to Travel Portland in 2007. That time on the hotel side of the table proved to be the perfect runway to her role at the state’s largest destination marketing organization.
“I always think of my job as an extension of the sales force of the hotel; I’m a liaison between the meeting planners and all of the resources that we have in the city,” said Everett. She passes on that same mentality to the team of 15 people she oversees in her role as director, mentoring others as they build relationships with meeting planners and local entities alike.
In her more than two decades in Portland, Everett has seen the city transformed from a small West Coast city into a bespoke global destination for the outdoor enthusiast, culture vulture, entrepreneur and more.
“Now the destination sells itself,” Everett said. “People are actually saying when thinking of meeting destinations, ‘Hey, let’s go to Portland.’”
Though the makers’ movement, cult restaurant followings and popular TV show “Portlandia” have all contributed to Portland’s recently elevated profile, Everett has known for a long time what a gem the city is.
“If you’re outdoorsy at all, it’s a great place to be,” she said. “You’re 90 minutes to the ocean, and you’re 90 minutes to the mountains. It’s been a great place for my family.”
When she’s not helping visitors savor the city, you can find Everett running in Forest Park, shopping at farmers markets or spending a day in Oregon’s neighboring wine country at a local vineyard.
Along with the city’s profile, how people plan meetings has also shifted dramatically since Everett joined Travel Portland. Many planners start their process online instead of picking up the phone. Despite this, Everett still sees her team and the destination marketing industry growing in size and importance.
“It always helps to have someone on the ground who can make real recommendations, who’s seen the property you’re looking at, who can give you the inside scoop on things that might not be readily searchable or on a hotel website,” she said.
What are some of those less-searchable treasures Everett recommends? Powell’s Books, Salt and Straw Ice Cream, and the city’s multiple “urban wineries” make the list. For the rest, you’ll have to plan your own meeting in Portland.
Meeting Tips from Desiree Everett
• Use your DMO (or CVB) because it’s a valuable resource on the destination and there is no charge for most of its services.
• Take time to site visit the destinations you are considering, if your schedule and budget allow.
• Portland is a great place to hold your next event.