“From the Desk of…”: Q&A with Sports & Events Sales Manager Ashley Wilson

Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events

The latest edition of our “From the Desk of…” series is a spotlight Q&A with Ashley Wilson, CSEE, sales manager for Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events. Ashley is a full-time sales pro, former collegiate track athlete, wife to Jason and mom to Harrison (6), Charleigh (3) and Anderson (1). Keep reading to learn about Ashley’s passion for helping clients discover the Alabama Gulf Coast!

Q: How did you get started in the hospitality industry?
A: I started in the hospitality industry through SPORTS! No, seriously! I was a scholarship cross-country and track athlete at the University of Alabama. After graduation, I worked part-time at a local sports retail store in Foley and reached out to the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission (now Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events) to see if they had an internship opportunity. I started as an intern in 2010 and moved into a full-time position a year later. I fell in love with the destination and the people in our industry!

Q: When did you start at Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events? What drew you to the organization?
A: When I started full time in 2011, I served as a sales manager for both the meetings market and sports. After a few years, I had a good amount of repeat sporting events I was working with and moved over to solely selling sports/events. When I started as an intern, I was so excited to be back in the sports world and did not understand what all the organization did in marketing the destination. I participated in youth/college sports for as long as I could remember, but I never understood how much planning goes on behind the scenes to make these sporting events happen.

Q: What is the best part of your job? Why?
A: The best part of my job is going out into the community to grab lunch or bringing my family down to the beach for the day and seeing participants in their team gear. Sometimes, I’ll ask them if they are in town for a tournament (knowing that I’ve helped the organizer of the event get things booked) and seeing if they are having fun. One kid told me they lost every game that week and were out of the tournament but that was fine with him because they were going to Waterville (water park in Gulf Shores) tomorrow!

Q: Why should sports and event planners work with CVBs/sports tourism organizations?
A: Always, always, always check to see if a destination has a tourism office when looking to plan an event. They will have local information and can typically point you in the right direction for local resources, grant opportunities, welcome bags for participants and potential on-site event assistance depending on the event.

Q: What sets Gulf Shores and Orange Beach apart as a great sports/events destination?
A: Duh! The beach of course! But seriously, having an event in a beach destination will most likely help with gaining more participants. It also helps that our cities, both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, are committed to continuing to upgrade facilities and encouraging sports and events tourism growth. And, last but not least, our sales team at Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events is super knowledgeable and has worked many, many events in the past 15+ years.

Now for a little destination fun...

  • Favorite breakfast/brunch spot: Tacky Jacks
  • Favorite lunch location: Sea-n-Suds (Get the shrimp sandwich – trust me!)
  • Favorite restaurant for a special celebration: Cobalt
  • Favorite family fun restaurant: GT’s on the Bay
  • Favorite place to snag a deal: Tanger Outlets
  • Favorite place for date night: Ginny Lane
  • Favorite spot for live music: Flora-Bama
  • Favorite activity: Running along the Backcountry Trail at Gulf State Park
  • Favorite place to shop: The Wharf
  • Which do you prefer – sunset or sunrise?: Sunset

Contact Ashley today at [email protected]com to get started planning your next sporting or leisure event. Learn more about how Ashley can go to work for sports and event planners by checking out our complimentary services, including a comprehensive marketing toolkit.