Small Market Meetings

FEB 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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Page 7 of 47 www.sma ll mar k etmeet i n g m Conference Report 8 Meetings Leaders: Louisville's Cleo Battle By Dan Dickson get me to college because my parents proba- bly couldn't afford it at the time, and I also have the hurdles to thank for getting me injured and leading me to the industry in which I work today," said Battle. Battle has devoted 30 years to the hospital- ity industry. Along the way, he has held vari- ous positions at properties within the Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn and Sheraton chains. He also earned an MBA degree from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. He is a Certified Destination Management Executive and a Certified Association Sales Executive. His almost-accidental entry into the hospi- tality field led Battle to spend the early part of his career in various hotel management train- ing programs learning the operations side of the business. One job was as a hotel assistant general manager in California, but he felt com- pelled to leave because "the woman I wanted to marry was way back in upstate New York," he said with a smile. Battle went to Syracuse to pursue her, and W hen it comes to the pro- fessional career of Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau executive vice presi- dent Cleo Battle, the track world's loss has become the hospitali- ty industry's gain. Battle had no knowledge or interest what- soever in the hospitality industry when he was a track athlete at the University of Colorado in Boulder in the early 1980s. When he was unexpectedly injured, and it was strongly suggested that he retire from the sport he loved, the young man was suddenly in need of direction. "At the time, I was a little more focused on athletics than I was on my education," said Battle. "But once I got hurt, it was time to get a little more focused on the future." Battle decided to transfer to Metropolitan State College in Denver, nearer to his home. He huddled with a counselor who ran through a list of potential careers to see what he might be interested in. Nothing seemed to click. Then the counselor brought up hotel and motel management. "She said that it was a new curriculum, and she would put me in there until I figured out what I wanted to do," said Battle. "The rest is history, so to speak." Battle took the required hospitality classes and thought he was progressing nicely until he realized that he needed 1,300 hours of work in hotels to graduate. Battle had imagined he'd get his degree first and then figure out the hotel part later. "No, it doesn't work that way, and for me, I'm glad it didn't work that way," he said. He took a hotel job and began to learn on his own and from many others, and found that "I was a natural at this." Hurdles proved to be quite symbolic for the CVB executive. "I have the hurdles to thank for earning me a track scholarship to September 26-28, 2017 b 26 28 2017 b 26 28 2017 the switch in cities also proved to be a good career move. He landed a hotel job as director of sales. Before that he had only been in hotel operations. Since he now had operations experience and was gaining knowledge in the sales arena, Battle drew the interest of the Richmond (Virginia) Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. He worked his way up at the CVB, spending 12 years in the front lines while rising to vice president of sales and services. Then Louisville called in 2013. At the Louisville CVB, Battle concentrates on expanding industry relationships around the country while developing overall strategy for his organization's departments. "Our job at the CVB is to bring visitors to Louisville. Those visitors all have different titles. Some are lei- sure visitors, some are corporate visitors, con- vention visitors or tour group visitors," he said. Battle was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but raised in the Denver area. Even though he has worked in the hospitality industry all over the country, Colorado still holds a spe- Photos courtesy Louisville CVB Cleo Battle welcomes a group of robotics experts to a meeting in Louisville. Cleo Battle

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