• Meet Julie Oatman, Ace Director

     
    POSTED May 3, 2018
     

    A sharp card in the “convention services” deck, this Soaring Eagle veteran plays with a winning hand.

Julie Oatman, CMP, is chomping at the paddle to get back to paddleboarding this spring on Five Lakes and Littlefield Lake, both located near her home in Farwell. 

“I grew up on a lake in Waterford and spent most of my free time on the water,” says Oatman, also a fan of water skiing. 

As director of sales and catering convention services at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Oatman rides several waves, and sometimes, she says, they can get a tad turbulent. 

“In my job, you always have to have a plan B. Problems are going to occur, but the client never sees us sweat. We find solutions without anyone knowing there was an issue. We’re here to make the meeting planner look like a superstar,” says Oatman, shortly after hosting an event for Morbark Industries.

The director, who started working at the resort the day it opened in 1998, relishes how fate played a role in not only helping her launch her career in hospitality sales, but also introduced her to her husband. 

After spending time in Colorado working at a visitors bureau and then as a group coordinator at a resort, she sensed it was time to return to Michigan. “My family was there so I wanted to go back. I sent my résumé to a lot of companies in Michigan and received a call from a man who wanted me to interview at a hotel in Southfield,” Oatman recalls. She not only got the job, but ended up marrying the man (now a realtor in Clare) who had invited her to interview at the hotel (he was director of human resources at the time). 

After a stint there, she filled positions at both an Auburn Hills and a Troy hotel and was eventually approached to work at Soaring Eagle. “With the casinos opening in Michigan, I knew it would be a good opportunity. I thought I’d stay for two years and then move back to Southeast Michigan where my family is, but here I am today.” 

With a full-service spa, five restaurants, casino, and indoor and outdoor concert venues, 70,000 square feet of meeting space and more, there’s never a dull moment for Oatman, who also serves as membership vice president for the Meeting Professionals International Michigan Chapter. 

“No days are alike,” she says. “You’d think after so many years it would get mundane. It’s the opposite!” 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 

 

Event planning and experience design go hand in hand. Just ask Maria Moyano, experience designer for the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC), based in NYC. “I think that everything is an event. You can go have coffee, and that’s an event. Everything is also an experience. You feel happy, and that’s an experience. It’s about what you are trying to get out of the event—and then how does an experience elevate it,” says Moyano.

 

In the midst of the pandemic last year, Loris Menfi joined San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk as general manager. At the time of her hire, Rivercenter had recently unveiled a renovation to its 70,000-plus square feet of meeting space.