Rick Hughes will retire June 30 as chief executive officer of the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association.
Hughes has led the non-profit agency for 10 years, the longest CEO tenure in the organization’s history.
“I had the big 60 birthday last year and the big 10 in this organization,” Hughes said Friday. “Plus I had a little medical thing that gave me cause for pause back in March. I’m totally fine now, but it just made me think.”
The association’s current board chairman, Troy Stremming, said the executive board will meet next week to discuss hiring a search firm to help find Hughes’ successor. National and local candidates are likely to be considered, he said.
Stremming, a senior vice president at Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, said Hughes’ retirement had been under discussion for awhile and was not a surprise. Stremming said he was confident the association’s 39-member staff will continue to work well during the interim.
“The city of Kansas City and the metro area have been very lucky to have had Rick over the last decade,” Stremming said. “Now, we won’t limit our search. We want the doors wide open.”
Stremming said it was too early to state a salary range for the top job at the $10-million-a-year organization. He said six months is a realistic time frame to name a new chief executive.
Hughes said he intends to stay in the Kansas City area. He will continue in a consulting role for the association through June 2014.
“There’s still work to be done here,” Hughes said. “I won’t be jumping off to Arizona or Florida. We like it here.”
He will, however, be taking a motorcycle trip in September. He is well known in hospitality circles for his Harley-Davidson V Rod.
The association said in a press release that Hughes leaves on a high note, having presided over the last two years of increased hotel room demand and some major convention bookings. The association had been publicly criticized by civic leaders during a 2010-2011 slump in hotel and convention business.
Before coming to Kansas City, Hughes worked at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association for 11 years and for Marriott Corp. for 14 years. He started his tourism career at the Lodge of the Four Seasons in Lake Ozark, Mo.
Hughes currently serves on the board of the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City, the Kansas City Downtown Council, the National Agricultural Hall of Fame, and several other organizations.