The Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is coming off a stellar year, will be under new leadership starting in late March.
Dana Markel has been hired as the new president of the organization, succeeding Jerry Cook, who last year announced plans to step down after 19 years in that position. Markel, currently executive director of Omaha’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, will assume her new job March 30.
As the top tourism official in Omaha since 2005, Markel worked with city leaders to develop and enhance the city’s tourism business. With more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, Markel has worked in convention sales in Omaha, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Miami.
“Dana brings an impressive resume of tourism experience” to Overland Park, Tracey Osborne, president of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.
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Markel, who grew up in Raytown and Buckner, Mo., will oversee a staff of 11 and a budget of about $1.9 million.
“Many opportunities abound for tourism growth and development, and as an added plus, I’ll be close to family again,” Markel said in the statement.
In 2014, Overland Park hosted 49 conventions that utilized the convention center complex. According to the convention bureau, these groups contributed about 50,000 hotel room nights sold toward a collective 1.286 million room nights sold citywide.
That represented the best total room night consumption in Overland Park’s history and was 7 percent higher than 2013, the organization said.
In addition to conventions, Overland Park hosted dozens of soccer, baseball, softball, dance and basketball tournaments, which brought more than 100,000 athletes, families and fans to the city.
The convention bureau has 34 conventions booked so far in 2015.
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