#Eventprof of the Month

Veronica Rivera - National Sales Director at San Diego Tourism Authority

Here’s 10 questions with our October feature, Veronica Rivera.

1. What initially drew you into the events industry?

Like many, joining the events industry was accidental. I was studying at San Diego State when I took an Intro to Hospitality class to fill my semester. Within three weeks, I told my mom I was switching majors from Business Administration to Hospitality and Tourism Management – with an emphasis on Meetings and Events. Her exact words were, “No you’re not. Did you get kicked out of school?” She let me sell her on the idea, and after 12 years in the industry, she sure loves the perks!

Group photo

Veronica Rivera, Chrissy Thompson and Theresa Wiend of La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club at one of the last live events in 2020, MPISCC WeCon – I can’t wait to get back to live events!

2. What’s a day in the life of Veronica like?

For the last six months, I have been working from home for the first time in my career. I’ve created a morning routine that I believe has been instrumental in my sanity – yoga, meditation, walking my 8-year-old pup (Nala), coffee, LinkedIn updates, more coffee – then I dive into a day of Zoom calls, RFP updates, a few more Zoom calls, and client connections.

Other things I love: my Cavapoo, Nala and my nieces, also the 49ers

Other things I love: my Cavapoo, Nala

3. How do you feel your role helps advance your company’s overall goals?

Not only am I the direct link to clients securing meetings and events in San Diego, but I also have the honor of being a liaison for my clients when dealing with hotel partners, venues, restaurants, attractions, and over 1,200 members in the San Diego Hospitality Industry.
I am an ambassador for our members, the organization, and the destination.

4. How do you measure success for the events you manage?

Our team’s goal is to secure new business into the market (we like to call it NEMO). We focus on businesses that have never been to San Diego or have not been to the destination in the last five years.

This is definitely not an easy feat, but it challenges me as a salesperson to build strong relationships with clients. Instead of a transactional business model, my clients feel my commitment to building lasting relationships with them for the future of San Diego.

5. What was your biggest event fail, and how did you overcome it?

As a National Sales Director, I host a roadshow with hotel partners and clients in my market. We are always looking for new and cool venues to host our events, and we thought we hit the nail on the head with an event venue out in Orange County. Although it was September, when I arrived at the venue, I walked into a complete oven. Instead of a nice, refreshing, breeze from the AC, I was smacked with a wall of heat. It turns out the venue did not have AC. After problem-solving with our on-site contact, several box fans from the local hardware store were the only solution. 👎

I learned to always ask about the central air when securing a new venue!

6. What is your absolute favorite part of your job?

I absolutely love and full-heartedly believe in our brand and the “product” we are selling. I have lived in San Diego for 12 years and enjoy the sense of community the destination has to offer. Although San Diego is the 8th largest city in the U.S., you can drive anywhere within 15 minutes, and the wide range of neighborhoods and experiences keep this Gemini busy!

I also thoroughly enjoy sharing my passion with clients and listening (I mean truly listening) to what their needs are. I make it my goal to always share something new and the most rewarding experience has to be when a client says, “Okay, I’m going to trust you” – as they move forward with my suggestions!

I am so lucky to be in the position that I am in. I love sharing my passion for San Diego with others!

Group photo

SDTA Hotel Sales Team pre-COVID, fully staffed, My inspiration to get meetings and events back to business.

7. Where do you see the events industry going in the future? Any trends?

Hybrid, without a doubt, hybrid. From my conversation with clients, some are projecting a 50% loss in live attendance. But, by shifting to a hybrid model, they can retain attendees while creating experiences they may not have explored before.

Personally, prior to the pandemic, I did not need to know the ins and outs of what my audio-visual companies could offer regarding a virtual event. Yes, I knew what set them apart from our other partners, but now my knowledge stems deeper. I have a better understanding of their offerings, which has allowed me to serve my clients better and match them with the right partners.

8. What’s a tool that’s saving you time in your job?

I love LinkedIn. It allows me to get information and updates about San Diego out to my clients and partners quickly. I also love the analytics too – like who’s viewing your posts. I find the platform allows me to stay connected and share San Diego experiences in real-time. As a form of research and prospecting, it’s wonderful!

The real me with the signature point

9. Where do you find inspiration?

Where I find inspiration changes often. Right now, it is the desire to get my coworkers, hotel partners, and clients that are currently furloughed or laid off back in business. Although San Diego and California do not have a reopening date for when meetings and events can resume, working to build a funnel to keep businesses moving forward is my way to contribute to the future success of our industry.

A quote that I love right now is from the “10 Scrolls from the Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino;

“I will persist until I succeed. The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I will persist until I succeed.”

10. Any advice for #eventprofs just getting started?

I think there are three things I have learned in my career. First, don’t pigeonhole your career path. I never aspired to be in the DMO World so early in my career because I didn’t believe it was possible. But, because of my relationships and hard work I am now celebrating four years in my position. Which leads me to my second point, our industry is small so never burn a bridge. In a few years, someone you’ve burnt a bridge with could easily be your boss, your client, or your coworker. Finally, do not be afraid to ask for guidance or mentorship from the industry professionals you admire. We all love to feel like we are experts in our role and if someone comes to us with a compliment or admiration for what we do, you better believe we’re more inclined to help out and offer guidance!

In June 2018 I cycled 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles with AIDS LifeCycle. This was one of the most rewarding experiences as it was mentally and physically challenging but definitely an experience I will never forget. I was happy to have fundraised over $5k for the work of San Francisco’s AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

I also love to travel even if it’s for a short weekend getaway, I always feel recharged after getting away. I also love to do adventurous activities. Here are a few photos of my experiences:

Rock climbing in Krabi, Thailand

Seward, Alaska Snowmobile Glacier Tour -hitting speeds of 70 miles an hour over the ice was my breaking point, I slowed down after that.

If you find me on the golf course I am probably wearing some fun and ridiculous golf outfit.


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