From the Ritz-Carlton to the Beverly Hilton, Amy Ballard has worked at some of the world’s most famous hotels.
In November 2014, Ballard joined the Victoria-based Oak Bay Marine Group (OBMG) as the Director of Sales and Marketing. The OBMG, which encompasses four of BC’s best-loved fishing resorts as well as five marinas, a restaurant and a resort in the Bahamas, is the latest step in a career that’s seen everything from red carpet events to whale watching trips.
Her new role, says Ballard, “is a nice mix of the glossy, fun marketing side, involving photo shoots and website design, and the analytical side, where we make sure we are hitting our sales targets.”
Juggling both sales and marketing for multiple properties is all about setting priorities, she explains.
“On a typical day, I start by prioritizing my team and clients’ needs —if they have any questions, I take care of those first. Next, I look at what I can do that day to make the biggest impact on the company. Whether it’s putting the website up, improving our online marketing or working with the media, my job is to see how we can advance the company.”
Any given day might see Ballard supervising a photo shoot for a magazine ad, escorting a media group on a whale watching tour, meeting with the sales team, or fine tuning the company’s website and social media accounts.
Ballard clearly enjoys her job: “I get to deliver experiences I love to other people, and I get to work with the kind of like-minded, caring and outgoing people that this industry attracts.”
Like many hotel executives, Ballard started on the front line. She applied for her first job, as a front desk clerk in her native Texas, when her sister, a hospitality and tourism student, suggested that Amy’s outgoing personality was a good fit for hotel work. Three years later, at just 21, Ballard was already managing a limited service hotel.
“That’s what I love about this industry. It is strong on promoting from within. Even if you aren’t able to get formal training, your career can flourish if you have a caring, outgoing personality and a strong work ethic,” she says.
The front desk is a great place to launch a sales and marketing career, adds Ballard. “It’s the hotel’s central nervous system, where you communicate with every part of the business. And, if you’re going to be selling guest experiences in sales, you’ll need to know how they’re delivered in operations.”
Another top tip: learn about social media and online marketing. “The industry needs people who are savvy in these areas,” she says.
Does she miss the glamour of New York and Los Angeles? Not at all. “BC is one of the most stunning places in the world. Coming here makes people’s dreams come true, and I get to be part of that.”